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Armed force takes over building on federal land in Oregon, vow to remain 'as long as it takes'

Ammon Bundy

(NaturalNews) A group of armed Americans led by Ammon Bundy, 40, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, have taken over a building on a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, vowing to remain "for as long as it takes" to effect changes in land use policy and to draw attention to the government's heavy-handed prosecutorial tactics.

Bundy and his group have also accused federal and local officials of unfairly punishing ranchers Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son, Steven Hammond, 46, both of whom are scheduled to report to federal prison on Monday, for refusing to sell their land to the government.

In comments to CNN, Bundy was vague about his and the group's end goal, but that restoring the "people's constitutional rights" was a priority.

"This refuge -- it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area," he told the news network. The group has taken over the HQ of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

"People need to be aware that we've become a system where government is actually claiming and using and defending people's rights, and they are doing that against the people," he added.

'We're not terrorists'

The Hammonds were convicted in 2012 under a federal anti-terrorism statute, of committing arson on federal land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Both were charged in connection with a 2001 fire, and Steven in connection with another fire in 2006. Though the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 calls for a minimum sentence of five years in prison, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan – now retired – gave them lighter sentences because he did not believe they had exhibited malicious intent.

Federal prosecutors appealed Hogan's three-month sentence for Dwight Hammond, and one-year sentence for Steven Hammond – which both had served – because they were far short of the minimum. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ordered them re-sentenced in October.

On Saturday, a group of about 300 supporters rallied and then marched in Burns, Ore., from a local grocery store parking lot to the Hammonds' home. After the march, Bundy and his group occupied the refuge building. There were no government employees in the building at the time.

"We will be here as long as it takes," Bundy told CNN. "We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves."

Bundy said that his group is armed, but he also refused to describe it as a militia. He also would not say how many people were with him, telling CNN on Sunday that information could jeopardize "operational security."

Prepared to stay 'for years'

The Bundy's were involved in an confrontation with heavily armed members of the Bureau of Land Management, which is part of the Interior Department, in April 2014. As Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, reported at the time, the incident shaped up early on as highly volatile, and over little more than some land-use fines BLM said Cliven Bundy – who has ranched the same land all his life – had not paid (Bundy said otherwise).

"...[T]he U.S. government has dispatched hundreds of heavily armed soldiers, snipers and helicopters to lay siege to a ranch near Bunkerville Nevada, called the 'Bundy Ranch,' where the Bundy family has been running cattle since the 1870's," he wrote. "In 1949, the federal Bureau of Land Management was created, and in the 1990's the BLM claimed (false) authority to start charging "grazing fees" for Bundy's cattle. Today, the BLM claims the Bundy family owes over $1 million to the government."

As of this writing, local officials in Oregon said they were conferring in an attempt to find a way to resolve the situation.

"We are not terrorists," Ammon Bundy said. "We are concerned citizens and realize we have to act if we want to pass along anything to our children."

In a later interview with reporters, Bundy said he and others occupied the building because "the people have been abused long enough."

"I feel we are in a situation where if we do not do something, if we do not take a hard stand, we'll be in a position where we'll be no longer able to do so," he said, as reported by The Associated Press.

He added that he and the others were prepared to stay "for years" if necessary.





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