Nearly 40 days into the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, both sides appear to be wearing thin on patience. In a series of videos released Sunday one of the remaining militants inside the refuge called on federal authorities to leave the state and people to take up arms and join their cause. “The feds, if you’re watching this, p*** off. Do your job. Get the hell out of Oregon, get the hell out of all of the states,” David Fry said.
Meanwhile, the law enforcement roadblock around the refuge appeared to take on a new level of seriousness over the weekend with the addition of a sign warning of potential consequences for anyone who attempts to unlawfully pass the roadblock.
As the standoff between the occupants and law enforcement continues, here’s what you need to know about recent developments:
Yes, they’re still there: Thirty-eight days after the occupation began, four militants remain inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Though communication with the remaining occupants has slowed, leaving some on social media to question if the occupation is still ongoing — it’s not over. David Fry, Sean and Sandra Lynn Pfeifer Anderson, and Jeff Wayne Banta are still in the refuge. The FBI still has a roadblock around the perimeter of the refuge, and residents in Harney County are still on edge.
But, according to Fry, time may be running out. In a video titled “When will we rise against the enemy? posted Sunday afternoon, Fry said he wasn’t sure how much longer the group would be inside the refuge. “Supplies aren’t unlimited,” he said while calling on more people to join the movement against the federal government. A power generator can be heard buzzing in the background of the video.
“Subject To Arrest”: One of the reasons the group in the refuge could be running low on supplies is because law enforcement has prevented movement to and from the refuge since Jan. 26, when eight members of the movement were arrested in connection with the occupation. Since then, a road block has prevented militants from freely leaving the refuge and visitors from stopping by as they had in the early days of the occupation.
OPB’s Rob Manning noticed a new addition to the law enforcement road block Saturday: A digital sign that reads, in part, “Subject To Arrest.” It’s the latest indication that law enforcement guarding the refuge have no interest in additional militia members or the media entering the refuge.
Independent Investigation: Speaking at LaVoy Finicum’s funeral Friday in Kanab, Utah, Finicum’s oldest daughter, Thara Tenney, called for a “private, independent investigation” into the death of her father. Finicum was killed in an altercation with law enforcement officials on a rural Oregon highway Tuesday, Jan. 27 while several other members of the so-called Bundy Militia were taken into custody.
The FBI has released video footage of the incident leading to the shooting and has said Finicum twice reached for a gun in his pocket before a law enforcement officer shot him. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is leading an investigation into the officer-involved shooting.
Who removed the memorial?: On the side of the highway in rural Oregon where Finicum was killed, a memorial has popped up for the Arizona rancher. Supporters of the right-wing militia movement have used it as a gathering place of sorts, and paid their respects to Finicum. But as Rob Manning reported, sometime either late Friday or early Saturday the memorial of crosses, flags and flowers had been stripped bare. By Saturday afternoon visitors had restored the memorial, but the parties responsible for removing it remain unidentified.
In a video released Sunday afternoon, David Fry referred to the people behind removing the memorial as “scumbags” before launching into a monologue about the greater issue behind the movement.
Did Ammon Bundy’s lawyers violate Oregon law?: Early on in the refuge occupation two attorneys with the Eugene-based Arnold Law Firm visited the refuge and met with members of the occupation movement. Later, after Ammon Bundy was arrested and charged in connection with the occupation he retained the Arnold Law Firm to represent him. That retention could be a violation of Oregon State Bar Guidelines, as OPB reported Friday. Section 7.3 of Oregon’s bar rule book prohibits attorneys from soliciting clients by phone, electronic contact or in person.
‘Just go home’: That’s the feeling many in Harney County shared with Manning this weekend about the whole occupation.
Manning spoke with Burns resident Larry Jay at the memorial for Finicum Saturday. Jay said he appreciates the attention the occupation has brought to federal land issues, but that he wants both sides to cool off and end this peacefully. “We want to come back, come back to the table, the bargaining table - and sit down like normal people, and talk this out, so that everyone will know what’s going on,” he said.
Some residents are vocal about wanting the militants and associated protest groups in Harney County to leave. Others are just as vocal about federal authorities leaving town. One thing everyone seems to agree on: They want life to go back to normal in their sleepy eastern Oregon community.