Finicum tied the group’s occupation to the FBI’s presence in Harney County. In an interview with OPB, he said the FBI and other federal authorities are “terrorizing” local residents, and that his group of militants — who call themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom — will act as “protectors” of the Burns community.
“They need to understand where we’re at,” Finicum said of the community in Burns. “I say this for the sake of America — that the FBI is fine, that they have armed forces. They need to go home. It’s about the federal government tearing into every aspect of our lives.”
Finicum’s comments mirrored recent statements by militant leader Ammon Bundy, who warned federal government employees to stay away from local residents.
“We as American citizens, we’re saying this is not okay,” Finicum said. “When you consolidate power, the power continues to be concentrated. We are very strong, very firm, this facility will not go back to the federal government, ever.”
The comments are the most direct acknowledgement that there is no exit plan for the group, which has occupied the refuge since Jan. 2, to leave Harney County, despite a number of previous claims from occupiers that they intended to leave if certain demands were met, including the release of Dwight and Steven Hammond.
Law enforcement officials did not respond to requests for comment.