It didn’t take us long to get into the Year 2016 until we have our first serious confrontation.
Armed militiamen (we’ll get into this in a moment) have “taken over” a federal headquarters for a national park ridge in Oregon following a protest in a nearby town. Swearing to fight off “anyone” who threatens to try to remove them from the land, these ammosexuals who got dressed in their Sunday-finest camouflage to “go to meetin’” say they will maintain the post and continually brag about the weaponry they have and the numbers (approximately 150 by estimates). Oh, and their leader is the son of the Nevada cretin Cliven Bundy, who was doing well with his own diatribe against the federal government (despite the factor he owes over $1 million in grazing rights fees) until he started talking about how the “Negro” needed to be treated.
Yes, Ammon Bundy is at the helm of this little coffee klatch, except the problem is the klatch doesn’t have books (they may have coffee), it has AR-15s. One of many militiamen who flooded to Oregon to protest the further jailing of two Oregonites for arson (they admitted they were burning their land, the fire got out of control and that they threatened federal authorities who put the fire out; originally jailed for a short period of time, federal judges said it should have been longer and the men had to surrender to authorities), Bundy and his buddies decided they weren’t quite ready to head back to Nevada. Instead, they thought it would be a good idea to forcibly take a federal property, then swear that they would shoot any local, state or federal agent who came to try to force them from the area.
Lovely way to start the year, isn’t it?
There are several problems with this beyond simply the legal issues that it implies (and those would be treason, sedition and, if any federal, state or local officers were killed or injured, first degree murder charges; then we’d get to the small shit like seizing federal property). The people in Oregon whom Bundy says he’s helping have said they DON’T WANT HIS HELP. The two men involved in the arson case have already reported to federal prison to continue to serve their sentences and have issued statements through their attorneys that in no way do those at the Bundy camp represent them. It doesn’t stop with just the two men at the center of the case, either.
The Pacific Patriot Network, a loose-knit group that claims to oversee militias on the West Coast, said it “does not support seizing federal property” even though it understood the frustration with the federal government. A group that united behind the Bundys in 2014 in their case in Nevada, the Oath Keepers, has made sure to keep a far distance away from Ammon Bundy this time around. Although others wouldn’t speak ill of Bundy, they also “wish he wouldn’t have done this,” according to a report from Reuters, because it draws a mark of ill-repute on militias.
But here’s the big question that surrounds this situation. Why haven’t the federal authorities – either park rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation officers, Department of the Interior officers, SOMEONE from the government – reacted to the situation? Is it because it isn’t a threat to anyone at this point? Or is it because these are whites involved in the situation?
The federal government hasn’t exactly had the best track record when it comes to armed standoffs with anti-government opponents. The incident in 1992 in Ruby Ridge, ID, that led to the death of three people (including a woman, a child and one U. S. Marshal) is considered to be one of the worst run operations in the history of law enforcement. Using a Rules of Engagement that was extremely draconian (down to the killing of noncombatants and animals, if necessary), the Ruby Ridge incident was held up as how “not” to handle such a situation.
While the hearings regarding the Ruby Ridge incident were ongoing, the FBI and ATF agents earned another blemish on their records. In attempting to deliver an arrest warrant on David Koresh and a search warrant of his Branch Davidians compound in Waco, TX, four ATF agents and six members of Koresh’s Branch Davidians religion were killed. After a 51-day standoff, the FBI and ATF – believing that children were in danger inside the compound – raided the compound. A resulting fire (investigations revealed it to have been set by those inside the compound in a final suicide pact with Koresh) from the attack killed the 76 people who were inside the compound.
Since those two incidences, however, the federal government has been rather subdued in its responses to domestic incidences. The Bundy case from 2014 – where 1000 militiamen basically dared agents to take some shots at them, all for naught – is a case in point. It is also very likely that this case in Oregon could be run much like the 2014 Bundy case was handled by federal authorities.
In essence, this is a battle being fought on the government’s turf. They can cut off electricity to the building, cut off water, put a loose circle of agents around the area – or none at all – and simply wait for Bundy and his fellow yahoos to decide that playing soldier isn’t as much fun when you have to fend for yourself. Then they’ll come out and, as they do, you pick them up and charge them with an assortment of laws that they’ve broken – or do nothing at all and make them look even more foolish.
There is another point being bandied about out there and it does bear some discussion amongst the adults in the room. These are all, for the most part, middle-aged white males who are involved in this situation in Oregon. What would be the reaction of the federal authorities if there were 150 black, Latino or Asian men heavily armed and storming a federal building?
It is loosely comparable, but we’ve seen a similar response from governmental authorities in the past. In 1985, police in Philadelphia, armed with arrest warrants and orders to evict members of the Black Power group MOVE from a building, instead ended up in a firefight with said group. The Police Commissioner at that time, Commissioner Gregore Sambor, ordered the building to be bombed and Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Frank Powell dropped two one pound “water-gel explosive” devices on the roof of the house.
The results were catastrophic. Not only did the resulting explosion destroy the top of the building, it started a fire that spread to an estimated 65 buildings that surrounded the targeted house (police also refused to allow for firefighters to fight the fire, due to the chance MOVE members might shoot at them). In the end, eleven members of MOVE, including five children, died as a result of the fire, 250 people were left homeless (MOVE members who survived said that survivors were shot at by police as they fled the carnage) and ZERO political or law enforcement personnel faced any repercussions from the event.
Perhaps we’ve come a distance since that day in 1985 – or even those days in 1992 or 1993 – where such usages of force would be considered. There are easier ways to bring about the closure of a standoff – some of which I mentioned previously, cutting off water, power, essentials that would eventually force someone out of a stance – rather than going in with guns blazing. With this current situation, we can only hope that it ends with a peaceful solution; with a Bundy involved, however, and the rhetoric they and the militias wield, they will try to push every button possible to try to goad the government into a fight.