Hey there reader, I hope you’re doing great. A small group of armed anti-government militants occupied the Bureau of Land Management buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, OR beginning January 2, 2016.
The group calls themselves the Citizens of Constitutional Freedom. They are led by Ammon Bundy and his lieutenants, Ryan Bundy and Jon Ritzheimer. The Bundys object to the sentencing of father and son ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, convicted of setting illegal fires on federal property in 2001 and 2006. These crimes mandate 5 year sentences but Dwight and Steven Hammond were sentenced to 3 months and 1 year, respectively. The reason: the judge found 5 year sentences to be cruel and unusual punishment in 2012. Upon re-evaluation of the case, the U.S. attorney at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the original sentences, without giving credit to the Hammonds for time already served and had them resentenced to the original 5 year minimum. The Hammonds appealed to the Supreme Court citing cruel and unusual punishment but their appeal was rejected in March, 2015. They were resentenced to 5 years each with credit for time already served in October, 2015. The Hammonds reported to serve their sentences in federal prison in San Diego, CA on January 4, 2016.
In addition to protesting the Hammond’s sentences, Ammon Bundy claimed the armed occupation was also religiously motivated, citing a Mormon figure Captain Moroni as inspiration to oppose the federal government.
Sequence of Events
On January 2, the group peacefully marched with 300 other proponents, protest signs in hand from the Safeway parking lot in Burns, OR to the Hammond’s home, then to the local Sheriff’s office and back. En-route back to the Burns Safeway, the Bundys, Jon Ritzheimer and 20 insurgents broke away from the protesters and seized the Malheur Refuge. The CCF took defensive positions, demanded the release of the Hammonds and that the Bureau of Land Management relinquish control of the Malheur National Forest.
Law enforcement have been cautious but have not escalated the situation, recalling the Ruby Ridge siege in 1992, Waco in 1993 and the Montana Freemen standoff in 1996. The anti-government 3 Percent group from ID arrived to support the CCF on January 8. Ammon Bundy said if the local citizens wanted the CCF to leave, they would. Harney County Sheriff David Ward asked the insurgents to leave, stating they would be escorted to the County line. The group rejected the sheriff’s offer. Another anti-government group, the Pacific Patriot Network arrived to provide support and security but were sent away on January 9. Two of the confederates were arrested for stealing and driving a federal vehicle to the local Safeway on January 15. The group has grown to approximately 40 supporters. Ammon Bundy attended a Harney County meeting to discuss the groups intentions and was told to leave by several attendees and one CCF supporter was arrested for felony possession of a firearm on January 20. Oregon Governor Kate Brown called for the group to decamp and for the the federal government to end the insurgent’s occupation. The occupation is estimated to cost the tax payers approximately $65,000 per day.
Ammon Bundy attempted to hold a mock common law trial against the federal government on grounds of violating the constitution with CCF supporter and computer repair store owner, Bruce Doucette, presiding as judge of the U.S. Superior Court, which does not exist in reality. Doucette wanted to establish a citizen grand jury and create a make believe legal process which might legitimize the Sovereign Citizen movement, experts say.
CCF Key Personnel
Ammon Bundy, born in 1975, son of Cliven Bundy and leader of the CCF believes he is not breaking the law and is following the constitution. He played a key role in the Bundy Standoff with BLM officials in May, 2014. Ammon is the owner of Valet Fleet Service in Phoenix, AZ and he lives in Laveen, AZ.
Ryan Bundy, born in 1972, eldest of Cliven Bundy’s 14 children is brother to Ammon. Ryan has a long history of engaging with law enforcement; 2006: Cited for burning without a permit during a restricted period, pleaded guilty, paid a $100 fine and was sentenced to probation for six months. 2007: Arrested on suspicion of interfering with a legal arrest, waived his right to an attorney and demanded a jury trial, only to change his plea to no contest on the day of the scheduled trial. Sentenced to six months of probation in November 2008, ordered to take a life skills class and fined $500, court records show. 2011: Found guilty of several vehicle-related citations, including an equipment violation and driving on a restricted license. 2012: Arrested on an allegation of misdemeanor theft. A judge ordered the charges to be dropped if Bundy fulfilled 18 months of probation. 2013: Charged with a public nuisance stemming from an allegedly unregistered vehicle on his property in Cedar City, UT. 2014: Charged with interfering with an animal officer. He pleaded no contest in April 2015, but not before he was arrested on a failure-to-appear warrant. He ended up paying a $150 fine. 2015: Charged with resisting arrest in Cedar City, UT. Ryan is part owner of Valet Fleet Service along with his brother. He also owns a construction company and lives in Cedar City, UT.
Jon Ritzheimer, born 1983, former U.S. Marine, from east San Diego County, CA and likes motor cycles. Ritzheimer organized a 250 person draw Mohammed campaign in Garland, TX and another in Glendale, AZ in May 2015. Ritzheimer wears fuck Islam t-shirts and is known for making youtube videos about the constitution, political and anti-muslim views. Ritzheimer provokes people to utilize their 2nd amendment rights and the FBI issued a warning to NY law enforcement regarding Ritzheimer’s views on Syrian refugees. Ritzheimer is a supporter of the anti-government militant group 3 Percenters and former member of the the Oath Keepers. Ritzheimer has a temper and made a youtube video to express his anger after receiving dicks and dildos in the mail from the public. Ritzheimer lives in Peoria, AZ.
Robert “Lavoy” Finicum, born 1959, cattle rancher and author, father of 11, fostered 4 troubled boys from mental hospitals, drug rehabs, group homes for emotionally distressed youths, lives in Fredionia, AZ. Finicum’s bio can be found here.
3 Percenters and Oath Keepers, two anti-government extremist movement groups which promote the idea that the federal government is plotting to take away the rights of American citizens and must be resisted. The 3 Percenters claim only 3 percent of the American population served during the War of Independence and they are the modern day equivalent of the 3 percent of patriots and also represent 3 percent of the population of American gun owners who will not be disarmed. The Oath Keepers encourage members of the military and law enforcement to pledge not to follow certain hypothetical “orders” from the federal government, such as putting American citizens in detention camps, disarming the American people.
These men are insurgents, insurrectionist, illegally occupying a federal building in an armed standoff with law enforcement officials. They are not considered terrorists because they have not engaged in ideological violence. Yet. But now that several weeks have elapsed and more has come out about them, we’re beginning to see how they behave. The people of Burns, OR and the Governor are growing restless and want the insurgents to leave or be removed. There is already infighting among the members. And the more time the insurgents occupy the buildings, the more charges they will face upon surrender. Several of the insurgents have already been arrested on outstanding warrants and criminal backgrounds. And the Hammond family wants nothing to do with the CCF.
I think we should be cautious with these guys given they are armed and have a history of anti-government beliefs and behaviors. I think law enforcement officials are doing the right thing in waiting them out giving the occupiers time to panic. If I were there I would wait them out, cut their electricity and supply channels and let them surrender peacefully.
In late January, the Bundy brothers, Lavoy Finicum and 2 other militants were stopped on a highway 395. Finicum exited the vehicle, reached in his pocket for a 9mm pistol and federal agents shot him dead. The Bundys and the militants were arrested and charged with federal conspiracy charges. Ritzheimer surrendered in AZ and faced the same charges. From his cell, Ammon Bundy called for the remaining militants to surrender, then said he was treated unfairly in jail. Federal agents arrested father Cliven Bundy at the Portland Airport for his standoff with federal land agents at his ranch in 2014. The elder Bundy was en-route to assist the last of the militants in the wildlife preserve. 3 militants surrendered and David Fry was arrested on the 41st day of the stand off. The Bundy militants were acquitted of all charges on October 27, 2016.