Ammon Bundy, through his lawyers, reiterated that the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge must end.
“My message still remains. Turn yourselves in. Do not use physical force,” Bundy said through his lawyers Thursday.
The lawyers read from a prepared statement on the steps of the federal courthouse in Portland.
“I am committed to freedom, not force. We are done with the culture of force,” his statement continued.
Four occupiers remain at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, held up behind police roadblocks. They told OPB Thursday morning, they’re ready to negotiate a peaceful exit, but want insurances that all four won’t be arrested.
The occupiers said FBI negotiators told them that three would be free to go, but one is the subject of a federal arrest warrant. Mike Arnold, one of Bundy’s lawyers, said the remaining protester need to go home or turn themselves in.
“He doesn’t want us to come back and tell him that someone else had died” said Lissa Casey, another of Bundy’s lawyers. “He doesn’t want to hear that from his lawyers. He wants this to end peacefully.”
“Phase one of this protest needs to come to an end,” Arnold said. “They have exercised their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. They have done it very well.”
Arnold said the armed occupiers have brought attention to a “problem that is ignored back East, in the Midwest and in areas that don’t understand the vast land that we have.”
Arnold said “phase two” is about exercising the right to due process. “The people remaining at the refuge need to remember, with phase two, with a peaceful end to this peaceful citizen protest you will have new powers of influence. You will have a subpoena power. You will have all the powers that a presumed innocent individual gets in our criminal courts.”
On Wednesday, three additional militants were taken into custody and could be arraigned as early as Thursday in federal district court in Portland.
Through his lawyers, Bundy also addressed the circumstances that led to his arrest and the death of fellow occupant LaVoy Finicum. Bundy’s statement said the group only had guns with them to protect themselves and that they were traveling to Grant County to educate local residents.
In the statement, Bundy said he looks forward to seeing law enforcement’s video of the arrest and Finicum’s death. “We only had guns for our protection and never pointed them at people … We never wanted bloodshed. We verbalized this many, many times,” the statement read. This is a developing story. We will continue to update this throughout the day.
This is a developing story. We will continue to update this throughout the day. Follow all of our coverage of the armed occupation in Eastern Oregon.