Sunday, January 3, 2016

Country Asks: Where Are Moderate Armed Militias?

After a small peaceful protest of militiamen and civilians from around the country took place in Burns, Oregon, over the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to actually enforce the real minimum sentencing on two ranchers convicted of arson on federal land, a "group of outside militants"—which was led by members of felon rancher Cliven Bundy's family—took over an unoccupied Malheur National Widlife Refuge headquarters building, claiming that they were prepared to occupy it for several years as a base for "patriots" across the country.

The illegal armed occupation in opposition of constitutional federal law has left distraught Americans inside and outside Oregon asking where the moderate armed militias are to denounce this act of violence.  Sarah Potter, who works at the headquarters but will be unable to return to her job, was able to speak with reporters: "Are there no moderate gunmen who think this is a problem?  I now have no job!  How will I put food on the table?"  Her husband Theodore expressed similar dismay while trying to console his wife, wondering why such people "live here if they hate America so much".  Similar reports have come in from as far away as New York and Michigan, states heavily populated by moderate militant groups, where citizens have called for their states' militias to make public statements critical of the situation in Oregon.  One woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, expressed fury that her friend from the local Constitution Party group has not commented on Facebook against the attack, telling a reporter for MLive that this is "very unlike him".

This sentiment seemed to be shared by the two arrested ranchers (from the Hammond family) as well, who disagree with the Ninth Circuit's decision but seem overwhelmed by the support from the protesters, and now the clearly irrelevant armed occupation by the Bundy militia.  The Hammonds' lawyer said in a separate statement that his clients are "flabbergasted" that "these otherwise friendly people would resort to such tactics".  Mr. Schroeder assured the press that the Hammonds would themselves never condone acts of violence, especially on public land, and that they wanted to echo the call from their community for moderate militia groups to publicly distance themselves from this act of terror.

Journalist Laura Sage from The Oregonian has recently reported she has yet to receive a response to requests for comment from Oath Keepers of Oregon and American Patriot Party, and has interpreted this silence in her most recent article to mean that the groups approve of the takeover.  The Michigan SSA actually has had more success recently in getting word on this from "Bob" from Oath Keepers ourselves ("Bob" provided this pseudonym for anonymity purposes), who said in an email that Sage's comments "do not necessarily follow".  We are presently unsure if this means his group condemns the attack, and have emailed back for clarification.

In the meantime local police have shared with news outlets that they are currently performing reconnaissance to discover if there are any black militiamen at the headquarters worth taking out first, saying the white members have not yet made them "fear for [their] lives".

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