The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, is entering its second month today. Only four militants remain inside the refuge and as many as 11 have been arrested and charged in connection with the occupation. An armed protest is expected to take place in Harney County later today.
Here’s what you need to know about the occupation:
Disconnected: The FBI has blocked most of the remaining militants’ forms of communication with the outside world, the militants told OPB Sunday. OPB reached David Fry, one of the four occupiers left at the refuge, by cellphone Sunday morning. He said the FBI has disconnected most of their cellphones. He told OPB that only he can receive calls and none of them can make calls. He also told OPB that internet access was disconnected.
An Unlikely Holdout: By all accounts, David Fry was an outsider among the core group of original occupiers at the Malheur refuge. The 27-year-old Ohioan provoked anger from the groups leader when OPB first reported on his pro-ISIS and antisemitic posts on social media. But militant LaVoy Finicum, now deceased, was able to convince the leaders of the group to let Fry stay. Several weeks later, Fry is one of the last people remaining at the refuge.
On Their Own: What’s life like for ranchers stuck between the FBI barricade around the wildlife refuge and the militants on the refuge? Stressful, to say the least. Andy Dunbar’s 400-acre ranch is situated directly adjacent to the refuge, and he told OPB’s Amanda Peacher that the proximity to the militants has “psychologically exhausted” his family.
The morning after the Bundys were arrested, Dunbar said several militants trespassed onto his property. When his wife dialed 911 for help, due to law enforcement’s hands-off strategy to prevent escalation, Dunbar said no one came to help. Though the trespassers eventually left, Dunbar said “we’re kind of on our own.”
Go Home, Please: In videos obtained by OPB, Ammon Bundy and his wife, Lisa, pleaded with the remaining militants at the refuge to go home. In the videos, the couple asks David Fry, husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta to leave the wildlife refuge. “To those at the refuge please stand down,” Bundy said via phone from the Multnomah County Detention Center.
Ammon Bundy’s most recent plea for the standoff to end came the same day he and and his brother, Ryan, were denied bail by a federal judge. The judge ruled the brothers were a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Call To Action: The Pacific Patriots Network has organized a protest of the “violent, malicious and deceitful tactics” of law enforcement in relation to the occupation. In a press release issued Friday, the PPN called on “any and all Americans” to come to Burns, Oregon, for what they have described as a peaceful protest. The group said it plans to demand that the FBI leave Harney County, that Sheriff David Ward and Judge Steve Grasty resign, and that the FBI special agent in charge, Greg Bretzing, be detained during the ongoing investigation into the shooting death of Robert LaVoy Finicum.
“PPN is dedicated to a PEACEFUL (emphasis theirs) operation. If you have any ill intent, please do not come. We do not need you,” the group wrote to potential participants in the release. They advised those interested in joining to not bring long guns into the Harney County community.
OPB’s Amelia Templeton reports it is believed the PPN protest will begin outside the FBI’s local headquarters at the Burns airport. Templeton also reports a group of Burns residents have organized a counter protest for Monday, as well.
Timeline: The Armed Occupation Of The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
John Sepulvado / Juan Ramirez / Bryan M. Vance/OPB