A funny thing happened when that heavily armed militia of non-Oregonians seized and began occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January 2016. Americans laughed. Perhaps we’re jaded by news of one violent terrorist act after another but these occupiers quickly seemed comical. Internet message boards spawned new names for the occupying group: from Talibanjo to Vanilla ISIS to Y’All Qaeda to the Stupidians and beyond, the occupiers were just downright amusing.
Now 16 of the occupiers are in custody and indicted for an array of offenses, including:
– conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force;
– occupying federal property “while using and carrying firearms”;
– threatening violence against anybody who attempted to remove them from the refuge;
– using social media and other means of communication to recruit and encourage others to join them; and
– refusing repeated federal orders to leave.
The indictments allege that the conspiracy began on October 5, 2015, when 2 defendants met with the Harney County sheriff and warned him of “extreme civil unrest” if their demands were unmet, and continued to the date of the indictments.
Meanwhile, 4 holdouts continue occupying the Wildlife Refuge: Jeff Banta; David Fry; Sandy Anderson; and Sean Anderson. Sean Anderson is already wanted in Wisconsin on unrelated charges. None of these 4 people were with the original occupiers; they arrived sometime after the takeover. Though group leader Ammon Bundy urged the 4 to leave the refuge, as late as January 30, 2016, the 4 said they will leave only if all are given immunity from prosecution and they are ready to die defending their position. (Those occupiers have a penchant for saying that sort of thing: “I’ll die defending [fill in the blank].” In truth, only 1 died: LaVoy Finicum, who apparently committed suicide by cop). The 4 holdouts are now also indicted.
The defendants are scheduled for arraignment on the indictments on February 24, 2016. In the interim, I’ll make a prediction. Ammon Bundy will somehow wind up representing himself at trial. He will make rambling, ineffective arguments based on the Turner Diaries, Sovereign Citizenship, Common Law and the lack of federal jurisdiction because the U. S. flag has too many stripes or something equally idiotic. Of course, he’ll be convicted and go to prison.
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