CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported, citing other news reports, that Ammon Bundy had tweeted a comparison of himself to civil-rights leader Rosa Parks. Subsequent reports have said the Twitter account does not belong to Bundy.
The leader of the self-styled Oregon militia told reporters Tuesday that the group would leave when a plan was in place to turn over federally owned land to locals.
“It is our goal to get the logger back to logging, the rancher back to ranching,” said Ammon Bundy,the man who has emerged as the leader of a group that has engaged in an armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, according to CBS News.
Bundy has appeared as a leader of the militia group along with his brother, Ryan. This isn’t the first time the Bundy family has engaged in a standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management: The brothers’ father, Cliven, sparred with the federal government in a similar 2014 armed protest in Nevada.
The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is entering its fifth day. On Saturday, about two dozen armed protesters broke into the refuge’s unoccupied building and refused to leave. It followed a march in protest of new prison sentences for two ranchers who were convicted and previously served time for setting fire to federal grazing land.
Those two ranchers, Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, reported to prison Monday, Reuters reported. A judge ruled in October that their prior terms for the arson — three months for the father and one year for the son — were too short under federal law. They will now serve about four more years each.
The Hammonds said they set fires in 2001 and 2006 to stop invasive plants from spreading on their ranch, which is adjacent to the refuge near Burns, Oregon, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutors said the Hammonds set the fire to cover up poaching in the area.
The group of anti-government protesters — which is calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom — believes the Hammonds have been treated unfairly and exposed to double jeopardy for having to serve multiple sentences. They’re demanding that federal lands be turned over to local authorities and that the Hammonds be freed.
Local authorities have not yet attempted to reclaim the refuge. The local sheriff pleaded with the occupiers to “go home,” and other residents haven’t seemed pleased with their takeover, either. The Hammonds have tried to distance themselves from the militia, saying through their attorney that the group didn’t speak for them.
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