OPB reporter Amanda Peacher, on site in Burns, Oregon, spoke with Weekend Edition host John Sepulvado about the most current news after a militia broke into a federal building in support of Dwight and Steve Hammonds, Eastern Oregon ranchers.
Here is what you need to know today:
1. The number of militiamen that broke into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Building on Saturday evening was first estimated to be about 150 people. Although the official number has not been verified, it seems that only a few dozen men are occupying the federal building.
2. The militiamen aren’t all Burns, Oregon locals. Some of the militia members traveled from Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Texas in support of Eastern Oregon ranchers, the Hammonds.
3. Ammon Bundy, the apparent leader of the group, will make a statement at 11a.m. PT. Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, was a key player in a months-long 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada. All official updates from the militia are expected to come directly from Bundy.
4. An email sent to Oregon federal employees told them to stay away from the Bundy militia. In part, it read: “Our top concern is employee safety. All employees are accounted for, and the Refuge will be closed until further notice. Employees of all land management agencies in the area will operate from alternate worksites, telework, or administrative leave.”
5. Opinions from residents vary in Burns, Oregon, as the militia first protested and then occupied a federal building. Many in Harney County do not agree with the militia entering their town. Some support the mission of protesting the federal government but not the tactics used by the militia. The mindsets of the militiamen, at this point, is up for debate, but one man who called himself ‘Captain Moroni,’ from Utah said he was “willing to die here,” but that he wouldn’t shoot.