As alarming as this is (and it is
fucking alarming), that's actually a perfectly reasonable thing to protest.
There's an article at Oregon Live from last October called Controversial Oregon ranchers in court Wednesday, likely headed back to prison in arson case
; I think it leans too much to advocacy for the Hammonds but it's got a pretty good rundown of the case, and why the feds' use of an antiterorrism law is pretty appalling:
The convictions were punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which followed the Oklahoma City bombing and other deadly acts of domestic terrorism. But on Oct. 30, 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan, presiding in his last sentencing before leaving the bench, said the Hammonds' conduct wasn't in keeping with the intentions of the law.
That law might apply, Hogan said, if someone intentionally burned sagebrush in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where fire can burn up ravines to houses.
"Out in the wilderness here, I don't think that's what Congress intended," the judge said. "I am not supposed to use the word 'fairness' in criminal law. I know that I had a criminal law professor a long time ago yell at me for doing that. And I don't do that. But this – it would be a sentence that would shock the conscience to me."
I don't have a problem with putting people in prison for setting (multiple
) fires that spread to federal land. I don't even have a problem with the five-year sentence. But I do
have a problem with prosecuting it under an antiterrorism law.
Course, if you want to make that point, maybe engaging in actual terrorism
isn't your most effective option.
And yeah, breaking into a federal building with guns
sure sounds like domestic terrorism
to me. Even without Bundy's "If they try to come and force that issue, [...] lives could be lost because of that" comment.
There's another pretty great piece at OPB, Who Wants A Burns Standoff? Not The Sheriff, The Ranchers, Or Even Cliven Bundy
The prospect of hundreds of out-of-towners who openly carry firearms concerns some residents in Burns.
Fliers with the message “Militia go home” hang on signposts downtown.
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said he received death threat emails from people in other states after he told militia organizers he would not create a safe haven for the Hammonds to stay in Harney County.
“I haven’t slept a full night in close to two months now. I have a lot of anxiety,” he said. But Sheriff Ward wants to protect his county.
“What we’ve been threatened with here is civil unrest and the insinuations of armed rebellion,” said Sheriff Ward.
Cliven Bundy said if Sheriff Ward wanted to keep the protests away, he should have worked harder to get the Hammonds’ sentences reduced or vacated. “I believe that the local governments have failed these people,” Bundy said. “The sheriff, he has the duty to protect the life, liberty and property of his citizens. And I believe he has failed, totally here.”
Bundy told OPB the protest is meant to draw attention to the expanding power of federal and state governments, and that his sons are going, “for a good purpose.”
Even Bundy is unsure whether the protest is a good idea, and whether it’s proper for his family’s supporters to get involved. “I don’t quite understand how much they’re going to accomplish,” Bundy said. “I think of it this way: what business does the Bundy family have in Harney County, Oregon?”
“In one sense, I believe very much in local government, and local control, and local authority,” Sheriff Ward said. To him, the militiamen are welcome to protest. But he doesn’t want to see the rally escalate. “We cannot have what happened at the Bundy Ranch here,” Ward said. “I won’t allow it from law enforcement and I won’t have it from citizens.”
Sounds like it's a powder keg and things could get really ugly fast. On the other hand, it sounds like law enforcement is ready to wait and see and give things a chance to de-escalate, because, y'know, white people.