Time: 3:18 p.m. CEST
Oregon grabbed national headlines on Saturday when a self-styled armed men broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the National Public Radio reports. The armed group occupies the federal building in protest of what it sees as government overreach on rangelands throughout the western United States, NPR writes. The group’s apparent leader and spokesperson Ammon Bundy said to Oregon Public Broadcasting, “we stand in defense.”
Further, he said, “when the time is right we will begin to defend the people of Harney County, in using the land and the resources.” NPR explains the background of the story and says, that Ammon and Ryan Bundy are sons of rancher Cliven Bundy, who took part in an armed standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, in Nevada in 2014. But this time, Ammon Bundy is part of a group of 15 to 150 people, who are protesting the arson convictions of the two Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven.
The case has its background in 2001 and 2006, when the U.S. government aid the Hammonds set fires that spread onto land management by the BLM. NPR said, the fire in 2001 burned 139 acres of public land, and the 2006 blaze, for which only Steven was convicted, burned an additional acre of public land. The first convictions were handed down in 2012, but this weekend’s armed occupation has with the sentencing that came afterwards.
Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which increased the penalties for arson against federal property, the mandatory minimum was up to five years in federal prison. “The law, which was passed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, struck the judge presiding over the sentencing as too harsh — and off-base in this instance,” NPR writes.
As the original sentences were remanded, and the Hammonds were sentenced to five years in prison. “The Hammonds are expected to report to prison Monday,” NPR reports.
But, the Hammonds’ attorney stated that the Burns do not represent the ranchers, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. Even Ammon’s father Cliven doubted the protest. “”I don’t quite understand how much they’re going to accomplish,” Bundy told OPB. “I think of it this way: what business does the Bundy family have in Harney County, Oregon?”
As of Sunday, law enforcement had not attempted to remove the armed group from the federal building, OPB reports, as NPR publishes.