An attorney for two Oregon ranchers whose impending prison sentences led an armed group to take over a national wildlife refuge says they will seek clemency from the president.
In a press conference Monday, Harney County Sheriff David Ward said ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond had turned themselves into authorities to begin serving there prison sentences at 1:37 p.m. Monday.
The ranchers are currently in custody at Terminal Island Federal Correctional Facility in San Pedro, California.
Kendra M. Matthews, a lawyer for the Hammonds, said Monday that the father and son will ask President Barack Obama to pardon them. They were convicted of arson for setting fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006 and served some prison time.
A judge said in October that their terms were too short and ordered them back to prison.
Their sentences have been a rallying cry for the group who say they ultimately want to turn over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge land to local authorities so people can use it free of U.S. oversight.
Ward addressed the armed occupiers in Monday’s press conference.
“You said you were here to help the citizens of Harney County,” Ward said. “That help ended when a peaceful protest became an armed and unlawful protest.”
“The Hammonds have turned themselves in. It is time for you to leave our community. Go home, be with your own families and end this peacefully,” the sheriff said.
When contacted by OPB for comment, Ryan Bundy, an occupier at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, said, “I ought to respond to the sheriff, not to you, so I’ll go that route.”
Sheriff’s offices from around the state and Oregon State Police are on the ground assisting to resolve the situation, Ward added.