A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The stark lesson of Malheur events

Written February 11th, 2016 by Hasso Hering

So what have we learned from the protest and occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County? Among other things, the government is determined to go after people whose objections to federal authority go beyond accepted conventions. It wants to make an example.

The Malheur occupiers are charged with conspiracy to violate a Reconstruction-era law against keeping federal agents from doing their jobs. Since they entered vacant buildings and stayed there, presumably they could also be charged with burglary and trespassing, though perhaps those are not federal offenses.

After the last occupiers gave up Thursday, FBI agent Greg Bretzing issued a statement in which he said the refuge would remain closed for weeks. First it would be checked for bombs and other hazards. Then FBI teams would arrive “and collect evidence related to potential crimes committed during the occupation.” Forensic computer experts would examine various electronic devices. “And it will likely be a number of months before the forensic examiners complete their analysis.”

The late LaVoy Finicum, later killed at a roadblock, had broadcast a video showing some apparent Indian stoneware sitting out in the open. He said this was the condition the government had left them in and the protesters had neither touched nor moved them. But the FBI said specially trained cultural-resource investigations would look for violations of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, a job that would take weeks.

It’s clear the government will leave no stone unturned to put these protesters away, if it can, for a long time.

The hard-nosed attitude is already evident in the Bundy brothers being denied bail and their father being arrested when he got off a plane in Portland. (What, they couldn’t arrest him in his home state, Nevada?)

The intended lesson for people opposed to federal policies and practices is obvious: Complain all you want, but if you actually do anything drastic or radical, even if you hurt no one, prison is where you’ll probably end up. (hh)

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11 responses to “The stark lesson of Malheur events”

  1. Bobby says:

    Good riddance.

    The FEDs went after them? I’m pretty sure they came to pick a fight. If they don’t understand or respect the law, then maybe they should have at least respected the fact that the Feds have bigger guns than they did. Frankly, compared to other federal standoffs, the FBI seemed to have done a pretty good job ending the whole situation with just one death.

    Do they have legitimate gripes about land management practices? Meh, maybe. There’s plenty to argue about how federal lands ought to be managed. If it wasn’t clear before, armed insurrection isn’t the best way to bring those arguments.

  2. Jim Clausen says:

    Exactly Hasso,

    What concerns me is how much the federal government has been – and is – training with local law enforcement. How much will be incumbent on local law (police and prosecutors) in the future? Will the feds require local entities to do things their way?

    I think the answer is already at our doorstep with the way the DOJ has recently treated Ferguson. Ferguson is now required to knuckle under to federal authority mandates. Mandates that can not even be questioned as proven by their latest encounters.

    This is the exact opposite of how our Founding Fathers envisioned the federal government working. Answers are supposed to be coming from local entities – like “we the people” – NOT from the federal government.

    Our not so little experiment with top down government needs to stop and we the people need to become more empowered or we will all soon be answering to our higher authority – the feds…

  3. tom cordier says:

    Hasso–will you also write details of the killing. My understanding is the man was shot several times from the back. Question —how did the shooting officer feel threatened by looking at the back-side of the man killed? Where is the audio of the confrontation created by the officers? Who gave the order to kill the man-and when? The details are important and the gov’t controlled oppressive forces have shown many times a lack of transparency fostering distrust..

  4. Bill Kapaun says:

    The longer the feds “manipulate” the history of this event, the more the disgust will grow within the citizens.

    It’s obvious the government will stop at nothing to fabricate charges.

    Take the guy that flew into PDX. They arrested him on charges from 2014 because he was such an “imminent” danger.
    What BULL!

  5. centrist says:

    A few thoughts
    Social protest is rarely accepted by government when public safety is affected. Whether in 2014 or in 2016, arms were displayed and aggressive statements made.
    Collecting Bundy senior near home likely had a risk to the public. Waiting for him to be in a relatively low-risk location was a sound tactical move. Nobody got hurt.
    If you disagree with our current form of government, there are three choices to consider — silently accept, constructively work for change, or leave.
    I’m not leaving or silently accepting

  6. Warren Beeson says:

    Regardless of this sad & tragic episode, it is clear that the (not “our”) federal government is out of control. We have any number of federal agencies running amok with no accountability (or probably even encouragement from a politicized administration). The IRS, EPA, VA, DOJ and others are corrupt, inept, and expanding. It is the direct result of the Progressive ideology that only the government can make the best decisions about how we should live our lives. They believe we should serve the government, not that the government should serve us. Our liberty, our rights, and our way of life are in jeopardy.

  7. Jim Engel says:

    Say, why don’t the bunch of you pundits take a year off & spend it in N. Korea as guests of ‘Lil Kim. You think my America is repressive!! It was tragic that Finicum had to die but my take is he was bound & determined to be the poster martyr for the group. He was given more than ample opportunity to “give up” at the 1st traffic stop but he chose to speed away, tried to plow thru a 2nd road block, repeatedly failed to “just put your hands on your head” & made movements to the inside of his bulky jacket for which I would have K-5’d him too!!! We have the ballot box not the bullet & if you can’t prompt enough votes to further your cause then that’s politics!…JE

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      100% spot-on Jim!

      • GregB says:

        And yes, Thank you Jim for putting into words what I have been thinking. It was not a smart move for these people to take over the wildlife refuge brandishing guns. I am for the second amendment, but jeez, give me a break. These idiots set back the cause, big time, for keeping our guns. Not even my NRA can support their actions (or, they should not, if they decide to).

        • centrist says:

          Thanks folks, you’ve made my day. Had something written similar to Jim E’s but dumped it without posting. Figured none of the negatizers would get it anyway.
          What I’ve noticed is that the puddle of knowledge about the functions of our government is pretty shallow, while the well of ignorance is too deep to plumb.

    • Dad says:

      You make some good points, but comparing the United States of America with North Korea is a bit like comparing Taylor Swift with Lady Gaga – a dish of vanilla will always look good next to meat-flavored soft serve.


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