Oregon Militia Standoff: Five Reasons It Isn’t What It Seems
Whether or not you’ve been following the news about the Oregon militia standoff, it’s a story that’s bound to dominate the headlines well after it is resolved. The standoff in Burns, Oregon, which began January 2, has captivated the nation. Armed militia members occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge following what was supposed to have been a peaceful demonstration protesting the re-incarceration of two members of the Hammond ranching family on federal charges. What’s happened since will go down in history, with the final chapter yet to be written.
1. The Hammonds Aren’t Involved In The Standoff
Despite the fact that the Oregon militia standoff has been undertaken in the name of the Hammond family’s legal cause, the Hammond family itself does not support the cause. Oath Keepers reports that Dwight and Steven Hammond, the now re-incarcerated Hammond family members, in no way endorse the armed Oregon militia standoff at the Burns federal facility.
The Oath Keepers, one of the most prominent militia groups in the United States, have been giving statements regarding the issue at several speaking engagements.
The Hammond family issued a statement through their attorneys regarding their response to the situation, too.
“Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone in his group/organization speaks for the Hammond Family, Dwight Hammond or Steven Hammond. In addition, I wish to report to you that, as recently ordered by the District Court, District of Oregon, Dwight Hammond and Steven Hammond intend to voluntarily report to the designated federal facility on January 4, 2016, as required.”
2. Despite Reports Of “Double Jeopardy,” That’s Not What Happened
Even though media outlets have reported that the center of the Oregon militia standoff has to do with the Hammond family being involved in illegal sentencing “double jeopardy,” that’s not really the case. As KTVZ reports, the Hammond family was not charged with the same crime twice, which is the definition of double jeopardy. Rather, and in contradiction to what the armed Oregon militia standoff members would like the public to believe, the Hammond family members convicted of arson on federal lands were sentenced below federal minimum sentencing guidelines for their crimes by their first judge.
A federal appeals judge, Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, corrected the erroneous initial sentencing for the 2001 arson blaze (a.k.a. “The Hardie-Hammond Fire”), which torched 139 acres of federally-owned land adjacent to the Hammond’s property. The father and son were sentenced to five years in federal prison, with credit for time already served. The pair were on the verge of peacefully reporting to prison when the Oregon militia standoff began following a peaceful local protest.
3. Ammon Bundy Cites Mormon Religion As Motivation For Occupation
“Congress sought to ensure that anyone who maliciously damages United States’ property by fire will serve at least 5 years in prison. These sentences are intended to be long enough to deter those like the Hammonds who disregard the law and place fire fighters and others in jeopardy.”
While most right-wing supporters of the Oregon militia standoff cite protection of the Constitution as the reason behind the occupation, Ammon Bundy (the leader of the insurgent occupiers) cites something entirely different. The son of notorious tax-evading Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy (a man who spawned a federal standoff of his own last year), Ammon has cited his Mormon beliefs as the foundation for the armed Oregon militia standoff he’s spearheaded.
The New York Daily News reports that Bundy has cited his Mormon religious beliefs as the foundation for his current occupation of the Burns, Oregon, federal facilities and lands. The Washington Post goes on to report on the foundation of Mormon opposition to the federal government. Namely, the Mormon fixation on a character from their holy book, Captain Moroni.
“People are drawn to the historical Captain Moroni because he’s the military studmuffin of the Book of Mormon; the character is brash and decisive, even ‘angry’ … He gets the job done.”
For the Mormon church’s official stance on the armed Oregon militia standoff, they have disavowed their influence and in no way officially support Bundy or his efforts to overthrow the Hammond’s sentence and take up arms against the United States itself.
“While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility…”
4. There Are Reports Of Fraud And Contention Among Militia Members
While the Oregon militia standoff participants are trying to put on a united front to both the government and media, there have been reports that the honeymoon might be over among the participants. Dead State reports that the discontent among the Oregon militia standoff participants may have even reached the point of constituting fraud and theft.
Dead State reports that less than a week after the start of the standoff, one militia member from Arizona known as Joe Oshaugnessy, or “Captain O,” once a recruiter for the militia, left the wildlife refuge to binge drink at bars and on booze purchased from liquor stores. He reportedly financed his drinking by stealing money the Oregon militia had raised online to cover expenses, not money being raised to cover binge drinking.
5. So Far At Least, The Oregon Standoff Has Remained Non-Violent
Despite the fact that the Oregon militia standoff members are heavily armed, the volatile situation has remained non-violent. At least between authorities and Oregon militia standoff participants. There have been reports of violence between members.
US Uncut reports that at least one fistfight, requiring medical treatment, has taken place among members of the militia members holed up in Oregon.
CNN reports that the authorities have tried to avoid a confrontation between law enforcement officials and militia members. This while Bundy states that he will “defend himself” if need be.
“Lewis Arthur, a man from a group called ‘Veterans on Patrol’ claims to have visited the occupation with three men on Wednesday to remove a ‘radicalized’ and ‘suicidal’ veteran with PTSD. According to several reports by Arthur’s group, Blaine Cooper sucker-punched one of Arthur’s men, sending him to the hospital with a concussion and a re-arranged face.”
“We will be here as long as it takes. We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves.”
So far, the government has approached the potentially explosive Oregon militia standoff situation with an abundance of caution, even as tensions between the illegal occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge reportedly escalate. Only time will tell if the situation will end peacefully, or if the Oregon militia standoff participants will force the government into another Waco-like situation.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]