Oregon occupation: Militia 'willing to kill or be killed' occupy US wildlife reserve

The occupation began following a peaceful protest over legal action against local ranchmen

Siobhan Fenton
Sunday 03 January 2016 10:16 GMT
The rancher said God told him to lead the protest in Burns, Oregon
The rancher said God told him to lead the protest in Burns, Oregon (Facebook)

A group of militiamen have occupied a wildlife refuge in Oregon, it has been reported.

The self-proclaimed “patriots”, say they have around 150 members stationed in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, The Oregonian reports. Their leader has reportedly informed local press that the men are planning to stay in the refuge indefinitely and are “willing to kill or be killed” to do so.

The occupation began shortly after a peaceful protest yesterday in support of a local ranching family facing prison for arson.

Two brothers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, are country ranchers who have been engaged in a standoff with local government regarding grazing rights. The brothers have been convicted of arson but maintain that they were entitled to set fire to land as they were doing so to reduce growth of invasive plants and protecting their property from the threat of wildfires

The "patriots" have described the sentencing of the brothers as “tyranny”.

In a video posted to Facebook, allegedly featuring two men claiming to be members of the occupying militia, one states: “This will become a base place for patriots from all over the country to come to be housed and live here.

“We’re planning on staying here for several years. And while we’re here, what we’re going to be doing is we’re going to be freeing these lands up, getting the ranchers back to ranching, getting the miners back to mining, getting the loggers back to logging, where they can do it all under the protection of the people.”

He added: “We’re doing this for the people. We’re doing this so the people can have their land and their resources back where they belong. We’re calling people to come and stand. We need you to bring your arms and we need you to come to the Malheur National Wildlife refuge.”

A second man adds: “This is the power of America right here. People got together for this and it doesn’t have to stop here. This could be a hope that spreads through the whole country. Everybody’s looking for this hope because the government has beat us, oppressed us and took everything from us. They will not stop until we tell them no.”

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