Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What the hell is going on in Oregon (and why you should care)

We now interrupt your usual style blog to ask the following:

What the hell is going on in Oregon?

Today marks the 5th day of the civilian occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Reserve, a United States government property, by a group led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy. 

If their last name sounds familiar, it's because their father, Cliven Bundy, also led another standoff with the U.S. Government in 2014 in Nevada when the  government, frustrated by the illegal cattle grazing of Bundy's and other ranchers on government lands. Why does the government care where the cattle graze? Well, the unchecked grazing of Bundy's cattle alone has cost taxpayers in excess of 1 million dollars. 

While there is about forty-five million acres of public rangeland specifically designated for Nevada grazing, owners must have a permit for the land they use and pay fees for the lands care and upkeep. Apparently paying his fair share didn't fly with Bundy and there was a great uproar is Nevada all about it. 

Back to our current issue in Oregon: Why all the hooplah? Well apparently this protest comes as response to Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, who currently face jail for setting arson fires that spread to government lands. (You know, a jail-able offense.)

The odd part about all this (well one of them)? The Hammonds say they've never asked for help from the Bundys. The Bundys are in fact action on the Hammonds behalf after being stirred up by the Hammonds neighbors and fellow ranchers. In fact the Hammonds are placing distance between themselves and the Bundys, their lawyer saying that "neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family."

Another interesting tidbit, neither Bundy boy lives either in Oregon nor at their family ranch in Nevada. Neither one of them are even ranchers. Yet oddly they choose this time to come to the aid of federally indicted arsonists by occupying not only government owned lands but and demands the arsonists (who've since surrendered themselves to the government) be freed and the government surrenders their lands. And they are using their own feeble and loose interpretation of the United States Constitution to back themselves up.

The final tidbit, that I personally find very interesting: Seems that these protesters are ignoring a very simple fact; They have no rights to the lands they are currently occupying. The Paiute tribe uses the Wildlife Reserve, now being occupied by Bundy and crew, for ceremonies, medicinal plants, and willows for handicrafts, but now are restricted access to the lands that they have inhabited since before Europeans ever stepped foot on the continent.

“The protesters have no right to this land," tribal chair of the Paiute people, Charlotte Rodrique, told the Associated Press. "It belongs to the native people who live here." Charlotte isn't alone in her sentiments. At a council meeting held on Tuesday, members discussed their grievances about the entire situation. "I'm, like, hold on a minute, if you want to get technical about it ... the land belongs to the Paiute here," said another member of the tribal council, Selena Sam. 

Why should YOU care?

Well, for several Reasons: 

1) Because as of an hour ago, the government has yet to really get involved. One would expect when a group of heavily armed men decide to take over anything owned by the U.S. Burns, the nearest city to this militia (30 miles away) has cancelled school for a week and is advising citizens to stay in doors while their local law enforcement has gotten involved, but where are the Feds?

2) Because you are a citizen of this democratic country, ergo, care. 

3) Because if a militia of white men with guns can simply displace one group of people in one area, virtually shut down a city in another, and command the attention of local and state law enforcement in Oregon as well as the National Government over a baseless cause by using their own weak and ill educated interpretations of the Constitution, whose to say they can't in your city?