Judge orders continued detention for five men in Oregon standoff

A local resident is stopped and made to exit her vehicle at a roadblock near the headquarters of the Malheur National ...
JIM URQUHART/REUTERS

A local resident is stopped and made to exit her vehicle at a roadblock near the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns. A handful of armed protesters remained holed up in a federal wildlife refuge, surrounded by police and federal agents, despite impassioned pleas from their jailed leader for them to stand down after the death of an activist.

A  US federal judge has ordered the continued detention of five men who were key players in the nearly month-long armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, rejecting arguments that the occupation was similar to the Boston Tea Party or civil rights era protests.

"From Day One they were breaking the law - they made no secret they were breaking the law," said US Magistrate Judge Stacie F Beckerman on Friday (Saturday, NZT). "I reject the argument that this was a peaceful operation based on freedom of speech."

Beckerman denied release to Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Jason Patrick, Ryan Payne and Dylan Anderson, all of whom were central players in the occupation of the wildlife refuge that began on January 2.

Ammon Bundy address the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon, on January 5.
JIM URQUHART

Ammon Bundy address the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon, on January 5.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, were the leaders of the occupation, which started as a defense of two jailed ranchers but turned into a larger protest over the role of the federal government in people's lives.

They were both arrested on Tuesday (Wednesday, NZT) in an operation that also resulted in the death of LaVoy Finicum, one of the occupation's chief spokesmen, who was shot to death by an Oregon State Trooper.

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In court Friday, Ammon Bundy described himself as a "federalist."

"I believe federal government has a role and it is to protect people from the outside world," he said. "I do love this country very much. . . . This was never about an armed standoff - this is about protecting individual rights."

Lisa Hay, an attorney for Ryan Payne, told the court that "This country has a long and revered history of political protest . . . there is a history of civil disobedience . . . some forms of political protest require a law to be broken. . . . There are times when radical notions gain acceptance in a courtroom."

She drew comparisons between the occupation to lunch-counter protests during the civil rights movement and the Boston Tea Party.

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"I take issues with lunch counter sit-ins or the Boston Tea Party," Beckerman said. "Those were peaceful protests . . . this was so far beyond a peaceful protest."

 - The Washington Post

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