An armed convoy with the Pacific Patriots Network surrounded the Harney County Courthouse Saturday afternoon to meet with Sheriff Dave Ward, where the two sides discussed the ongoing occupation near Burns.
The Pacific Patriots Network is a collective of people from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, who, Saturday morning, arrived at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge claiming to secure the scene where armed militants have been stationed for the past week. Some of the men carried long guns.
One of the network’s founding members, Joseph Rice, told OPB’s Amanda Peacher the members of the network were there to try to diffuse the situation.
“We inserted ourselves as a buffer between the government authorities and the refuge authorities as a neutral moderating space,” Rice said. “We want to see cooler heads prevail, we want to see people step down the rhetoric, we want to see an open dialogue and discussion.”
The Associated Press reported the leaders of the occupation, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, told the network members their help was not needed at the refuge and requested they leave. However, network founding member Brandon Curtiss said they left on their own accord.
Occupier LaVoy Finicum said he and Ammon Bundy welcomed the new arrivals, but asked them to put their guns away.
After leaving the refuge, more than 20 network members stationed themselves around the courthouse, where concrete barriers had been placed by local law enforcement Friday. The Patriots positioned armed guards at each of the streets leading up to the courthouse.
When asked why the convoy included armed men who appeared to be standing guard at the perimeter of the courthouse, Rice said, “We have a right to protect ourselves.”
Rice told OPB they went to the courthouse to deliver what he called their “articles of resolution” to the county. Ward met with members of the network shortly after 5 p.m.
Ward said, while he worried about the potential for conflict, he respected the work the network members were doing.
“I just worry about any conflict” -Sheriff Ward #Oregonstandoff— Amanda Peacher (@amandapeacher) January 10, 2016
Sheriff says he respects what these guys are doing, he doesn’t respect what’s going on at the refuge. pic.twitter.com/b75JReS2Q5— Amanda Peacher (@amandapeacher) January 10, 2016
It’s over. Handshakes, business cards, promises to stay in touch. #Oregonstandoff— Amanda Peacher (@amandapeacher) January 10, 2016