After nearly a three-week occupation, Ammon Bundy has finally begun meeting with the FBI. Bundy made a trip to the airport in Burns, Oregon, on Thursday for a meeting with federal agents by telephone. Reporters watched as Bundy spoke with an FBI negotiator by phone. The conversation was streamed online by a member of Bundy’s protest group, according to CBS News.
The Ammon Bundy meeting with the FBI has been described as weird. Some are criticizing the phone call between Bundy and an FBI mediator, questioning why Bundy would leave the headquarters building that he and a growing group of protesters have been occupying at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy drove to a phone located at the airport in Burns. An FBI mediator was stationed at a makeshift headquarters nearby and spoke to Ammon Bundy from there. This was the first communication between Bundy and the FBI. The Oregon standoff leader has been in contact with local law enforcement. The Inquisitr reported about an earlier meeting between Bundy and Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward on January 7.
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) January 21, 2016
Ammon and his group have occupied the headquarters building since January 2. Bundy says his group is acting on direct orders from God as they protest the imprisonment of the Hammonds. The father-son ranchers were sentenced to serve five years after setting fire to their own land that ended up damaging part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During Bundy’s conversation on Thursday, Bundy told the FBI mediator that his group is hoping for a peaceful resolution to their protest.
The meeting was broadcast publicly by a member of Bundy’s group. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported on the conversation. “The only ones that are going to make this a non-peaceful event will be you guys — the FBI or other law enforcement,” Bundy said, according to the OPB report.
I think It’s time for the…”militia”…to go home, nobody cares about you…nobody.. https://t.co/qc35H55RuZ
— Sebastian Roché (@sebroche) January 22, 2016
“I want to keep the dialogue going. We want to work together with you,” the negotiator told Bundy. The OPB report said that the FBI mediator was not identified but others on the scene did confirm his role in the conversation. Ryan Payne and Bundy’s bodyguard Brian Cavalier, as well as several other members of the protest group, accompanied Bundy to the airport for the telephone meeting.
The negotiator warned Bundy that it will take some time to address the demands of the group. The situation is complicated and many wonder why law enforcement doesn’t just remove the whole group and charge them with trespassing. Ammon Bundy and his group are hoping to end their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with their lives, their freedom, and with the return of public land to the public. The negotiator’s willingness to work with Bundy is pretty convincing and it’s looking like Bundy may have some hope of getting what he wants. It just might take some time and a few more people to pull it off, according to the conversation reported by OPB. “And take some other people that have some more experience to really get together on this and work together, to find a good resolution,” the negotiator told Bundy.
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) January 22, 2016
The conversation between Ammon Bundy and the FBI mediator ended well and there are plans to speak again on Friday. After the call was over, Craig Overby spoke on behalf of the FBI. “We’re glad to open a dialogue with him,” said Overby. “What we have in common is we want a peaceful resolution. And I think he wants that too.”
The FBI declined to comment any further on their future plans for the Oregon standoff and any planned conversations with Ammon Bundy. It was reported that despite Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s irritation over the FBI’s slow response to the Oregon standoff, the timing was “deliberate and measured.”
Residents of Burns, Oregon, and the surrounding Harney County want Ammon Bundy and his boys off their land. They are urging law enforcement to do what it takes to get the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge back so it can be enjoyed as public land again.
[Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]