At the start of the new year, a group of armed protesters stormed the headquarters of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon and claimed it as their base of operations for a standoff against the federal government.
Three weeks later, they’re still out there, and their laundry list of demands hasn’t changed.
The group, led by Ammon Bundy, the son of a Nevada rancher known for his own fight against the feds, is staked out at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in defense of two ranchers whom the protesters say were unfairly treated by the government.
The standoff began in early January in support of two Oregon ranchers convicted three years ago of arson on public lands. Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 43, say they set fire to the land they leased from the government for grazing as a way to get rid of invasive species. The men were sentenced to five years in prison—the mandatory minimum for arson on federal land—but argued that the sentence was unconstitutional. The father served three months and the son one year before being released, but a federal judge ordered them back to prison to serve the remainder of their sentences. The Hammonds turned themselves in to a California prison January 4.