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Grant County Warns Potential Militants, Denouncing Occupation


Grant County leaders unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday in opposition to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The meeting was the third time the court had deliberated and heard public comment over a similar resolution.

County leaders said they were pleased the 41-day occupation is over, and the resolution sends the message that out-of-county militants are not welcome in Grant County. It also states county officials will continue to collaborate with state government and land agencies.

The meeting room was standing room only and perspectives on the resolution were mixed. Some took issue with resolution language referring to the occupiers as “militants.”

Francis Preston said she sympathized with occupation leaders’ frustrations with the federal government. 

“I never saw them one time as a militant,” Preston said. “They were voices of reason.”

Resolution supporters said it was important that Grant County take a stand, even though the occupation is over.

“My contention is that it is as relevant as ever,” said Kay Steele. Steele added she is worried Grant County could become a target for potential future occupations.

That’s in part because county Sheriff Glenn Palmer met with some of the militants during the standoff, and is a member of a national group of sheriffs who refuse to enforce some federal laws.  

The county statement also emphasized the importance of local collaborations with the federal government and encouraged any “out-of-county militants remaining in Harney County to go home to their families, and let local citizens speak for themselves.”

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