According to reports from the FBI and Oregon State police, six individuals associated with the armed occupation of a Central Oregon wildlife refuge, including their renowned leader Ammon Bundy, were arrested after a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon.
CNN has reported that authorities stopped two vehicles–in what is now being confirmed as a felony car stop to apprehend Bundy and his followers– and all but two individuals obeyed orders to surrender. Those two individuals were identified as LaVoy Finicum and Ryan Bundy, Ammon’s brother, who exchanged gunfire with authorities, resulting in Finicum’s death and Bundy being injured.
Lavoy Finicum was well known for his outspoken temperament and unwavering belief in what he and fellow occupiers were fighting for, stating earlier this month of his desire to be killed in place of being sent to prison.
“Absolutely… I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box,”he told NBC News. “There are things more important than your life, and freedom is one of them,” he said. “I’m prepared to defend freedom.”
The news of Tuesday’s arrests comes a week after Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, called for an end to the protests being displayed at the Harney County refuge and questioned the Federal government’s ability to bring Bundy and his followers to justice.
“The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far,” Governor Kate Brown said during a news conference. “This spectacle of lawlessness must end. And until Harney County is free of it I will not stop insisting that federal officials enforce the law.”
The statements made by Oregon’s governor may have been what influenced Tuesday’s traffic stop.
Officials stated that eight individuals were arrested Tuesday evening by Oregon authorities: five in the traffic stop on Highway 395, two others in Burns, and one who eventually turned himself in, in Arizona.
They all face federal felony charges relating to their occupation of the Oregon Wildlife Refuge near Burns, where they’ve taken refuge since January 2 in an attempt to protest federal land policies that they believe have no authority in the region.
As of Tuesday night, Governor Brown stated the siege is still ongoing.
“The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress,” she said. “My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”
Occupiers of the Oregon refuge posted a statement regarding Tuesday’s events on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page.
“It appears that America was fired upon by our government. One of liberty’s finest patriots is fallen. He will not go silent into eternity,”
The Bundys’ father Cliven Bundy,who is best known for his ongoing battle with the federal Bureau of Land Management over grazing right for his cattle, spoke to the Los Angeles Times after his sons’ arrests.
“I have some sons and other people there trying to protect our rights and liberties and freedoms, and now we’ve got one killed,” he stated. “All I can say is, he’s sacrificed for a good purpose.”
With their leader Ammon Bundy now in police custody, there’s now the question of how long the remaining occupiers in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon will continue their stand; and what will be the settlement — if any — when the protest is all said and done.
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)