On Saturday, an armed group of men took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters just outside Burns, Oregon. The group, an offshoot of a larger group that was in town to support local ranchers who are set to report to prison for setting fire to government land, calls itself a militia and says it is prepared to say in the federal building “for years” if federal land is not returned to Harney County ranches and loggers. The Oregonian reports that the group is led by Ammon Bundy, whose father Clive Bundy staged a standoff with federal officials two years ago.
As the land is owned by the federal government, the FBI has jurisdiction, but as of this morning (January 4), there was no law enforcement presence at the refuge.
“The FBI is working with the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and other local and state law enforcement agencies to bring a peaceful resolution to the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” the FBI’s Portland office said in a statement posted on CNN.com. “Due to safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved, we will not be releasing any specifics with regards to the law enforcement response.” The agency is slated to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. local time.
The seemingly lack of police presence has prompted many to wonder how this standoff would play out if the men, who are White, were Black. Writer Elon James White created the hashtag #OregonUnderAttack to describe the situation on the ground.
— Elon James White (@elonjames) January 3, 2016
Did I miss the call for the national guard in Oregon? I recall them in Ferguson and Baltimore. #OregonUnderAttack
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) January 3, 2016
150 armed men aren’t considered a serious threat, yet a 12 year old playing with a toy gun is.. Surely you see the hypocrisy here. #Oregon
— Jackée Harry (@JackeeHarry) January 3, 2016
The building takeover has also spawned the hashtag #YallQaeda, which both pokes fun at the group and documents what some feel is hypocrisy surrounding the government’s handling of proven terrorists in this situation.
— Jake Thurman (@Mr_Thurman) January 3, 2016
— Krissy (@__Krisssyy) January 4, 2016
White people demanding that land that never belonged to them be returned to them, which is just the white-est. #YallQaeda
— Daniel La Spata (@therealDFLS) January 4, 2016
Meanwhile, the Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven—the ranchers the group was rallying around—are turning themselves into officers at a California prison today. Their attorneys issued a statement, saying that the duo will request clemency from President Barack Obama.