Armed Militia Overtakes Oregon Federal Building
On Friday, a group of heavily armed men descended upon and occupied a federal building in Oregon to protest the sentencing of two ranchers for arson. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, was overtaken by a group of approximately 300 protesters – many of them armed with assault rifles – this weekend. They have vowed to potentially stay at the refuge “several years” if need be until their demands are met.
The armed militia – which is being met with a bevy of scrutiny on social media – is protesting the prison sentences of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, who were re-sentenced in 2015 for two fires they set to public lands in 2001 and 2006. A judge ruled the initial sentences served by the father and son was not long enough under federal law. Mic:
“It wasn’t until 2010 that the BLM brought charges against Dwight and Steven under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Act, according to the Idaho Press. As the Oregonian reported, the two were found guilty of perpetrating arson on government land after a two-week trial in 2012, and were expected to serve the mandatory minimum of five years in prison for the crime. “However, then-U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan thought the punishment “grossly disproportionate” to the ranchers’ offenses, according to TSLN. In their sentencing hearing, the Register Guard reported, Hogan awarded Steven Hammond one year and one day behind bars for the two fires, and Dwight Hammond three months in prison for his role in setting the 2001 fire. “According to the Register Guard, Hogan’s ruling didn’t sit well with the Oregon government, which appealed his decision on the grounds that it disregarded the legal minimum sentence for such a violation. In October, the father and son were given five years of prison time each, “with credit for the time they already served” following their 2012 sentencing, according to the Oregon District Attorney’s office.”Though the armed insurgents are protesting the sentencing, the Hammonds themselves had agreed to their punishments. The occupation of the federal building has drawn much scrutiny from users on social media, where they have pointed out the differences in responses from the media when non-whites have guns and when a group of white people walk around with assault weapons and other guns in plain view.