Statement on the Bundy Family Sedition Crisis in Harney County, Oregon
January 12, 2016
A Communiqué from the ANG Public Information Bureau:
To the International Indigenous Community
To all Colonised Peoples of the Fourth World
To all Brothers and Sisters taking part in the Anti-Fascist Struggle
The Aboriginal News Group (ANG) wishes to acknowledge the following political absurdity:
As most of the international news-conscious public is now aware, a heavily armed group of right-wing Euro-Settlers in the United States who self-identify as ‘Sovereign Citizens’ and anti-government separatists functioning (they claim) as a Constitutionally-sanctioned ‘People’s Militia’ have illegally taken physical control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (some 48 km south of Burns, Oregon) and its entire facility, (including government structures, vehicles and office computes). The seditionist group has been allowed (by the authorities) to erect roadblocks and have established a defensible perimeter overseen by two snipers watching guard from the installation’s fire-observatory tower along with several internal/external roving patrols provided by the equally neo-fascist Pacific Patriots Network and Three Percenter extremist domestic paramilitary organisations. (See: Jake Burman: ‘Armed anti-government protestors ‘in bid to overthrow US government’ after storming refuge‘ – Daily Express/Jan 4th, 2016 – and – Sam Levin: ‘Heavily armed men offer ‘security’ for Oregon militia at wildlife refuge‘ – Guardian UK/Jan. 9Th, 2016)
While the US press corps has described this situation as a protest, in point of fact, the Malheur ‘Operation’ was launched by a hodgepodge of loosely-affiliated, (and not very well-prepared) right-wing extremists seeking to overthrow the Oregon State and federal governments in accordance with their extremist-views of the Mormon religion and a self-centred, pro-European settler Libertarian interpetation of the US Constitution. (See: Brian Tashman: ‘Ammon Bundy: Bible Supports Militia’s Seizure Of Federal Land‘ – Right Wing Watch/Jan 6th, 2016)
This most recent (equally unsophisticated) Bundy Family armed ‘Stand-off’ (as the press has generously termed these situations) against the federal government and has now entered its second week without any measurable intervention from local law enforcement, federal authorities or the White House to put an end the coup attempt. The US as well as international public is left to wonder why no action has been taken after Harney County sheriff David Ward announced in a press statement that the Bundy Group is not hiding the fact that they are trying to create a nationwide right-wing movement to overthrow the US Government:
‘These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers when in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.’(source: Nigel Duara, Molly Hennessy-Fiske: ‘Oregon refuge occupation: ‘It’s getting dark, and it is freezing‘ – latimes.com/Jan. 4Th, 2016)
Operating under the religious and political leadership of Ammon and Ryan Bundy, militant sons of anti-government, radical cattle rancher Cliven Bundy – the Nevada State-based seditionists proclaim that they are forcefully taking possession of federal land by way of an armed paramilitary unit on the behalf of the Hammond Family, a father and son ranching outfit in Oregon who were recently re-sentenced under (admittedly questionable) federal mandatory minimum guidelines to serve out (a second) prison term after being earlier convicted and imprisoned for arson on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas after decades of overt belligerence on the part of the Hammonds and numerous open provocations and threats of violence levied against federal authorities. (See: Jeffrey St. Clair, James Ridgeway: ‘Showdown in the Malheur Marshes: the Origins of Rancher Terrorism in Burns, Oregon‘ – Counterpunch/Jan 5th, 2016 – and – David Edwards: ‘Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy: “The Lord told me” to fight a “civil war” with federal agents‘ – RawStory/Aug. 4th, 2014)
Despite the brazenness of this admittedly treasonous act and its staunch condemnation by Hammond family representatives and many local residents, as of this writing, there is (still) no sign of any willingness on the part of local or most notably, federal, law enforcement officials to re-take the property from the armed occupiers by force; or to surround the encampment with sufficient manpower/specialised assault (special weapons) teams, surplus-military vehicles and/or anti-riot equipment, air support and/or the (usual) establishment of a central command post, along with official representatives to the press, so as to ‘positively’ manage the situation; or, to (at the very least) dispatch surveillance (drone) aircraft to observe the seditionists and arrive at an effective (and permanent) end to the illegal takeover.
As we have mentioned above, none of the routine law enforcement exercises of civil control generally seen in less dangerous civil disturbances have been utilised in this particular situation (as of yet).
Which is notable, because in cases of (peaceful) organised civilian protest – such as the recent #Occupy Wall Street rallies and #BlackLivesMatter events (and historically during the classic Civil Rights Era) – which observe Gandhian principles of non-violence and unarmed action, protesters are regularly met with extreme and unapologetic brutality from local, state and federal law enforcement agents and (unfairly) accorded punitive and overtly biased reporting from mainstream press agencies and right-wing themed websites that demonise such activists as a threat to the social order. (See: ‘Law enforcement and the Occupy movement‘ – Wikipedia – and – Dave Id: ‘Interview with Scott Olsen About His Injury from the Police Attack on Occupy Oakland‘ – indybay.org/Nov 28th, 2011 – and – Alice Hines: ‘FBI Investigated “Occupy” As Possible ‘Terrorism’ Threat, Internal Documents Show‘ – huffingtonpost/ Dec, 23rd, 2012 – and – OllieGarkey: ‘They planned to kill us “if deemed necessary.”‘ – dailykos.com/Dec 30th, 2012 – and – justiceonline.org: ‘FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring‘ – PDF)
The military-grade armed Bundy Family action has not faced any such law enforcement attention. Because of this, we ask international observers to contrast this soft-glove treatment of domestic terrorism against the federal government’s militaristic response to the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee (situated within Pine Ridge Indian Reservation territory, South Dakota) by armed Oglala Lakota/Dakota tribal members and other followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the 1985 air-dispatched bombing of the (mostly African-American) MOVE Organisation compound in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (within a residential area of a major city) by civilian police forces. Excessive force was rationalised by both the authorities and the press as ‘necessary’ due to the fact that the protesters were assumed by law enforcement to be willing and able to defend their position(s) with firearms. (See: American Indian Movement Documents / Michigan State University Library – aics.org – and – Laura Sullivan: ‘Philadelphia MOVE Bombing Still Haunts Survivors‘ – NPR/May 16th, 2005)
No such concerns have been raised in regards to the Malheur Reserve takeover despite the fact that the action is being carried out by an obvious anti-government, paramilitary outfit openly threatening to engage in battle with local and federal law authorities if they do not get what they want. (See: Dana Liebelson, Nick Baumann, Ryan J. Reilly: ‘Oregon Militants Vow To “Kill Or Be Killed If Necessary,” But FBI Isn’t Biting‘ – Slantpoint/Jan. 4Th, 2016)
Unlike the listed examples of unarmed protest cited in the cases of #Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter – and armed protest in the cases of AIM and MOVE – it has become unambiguously clear that armed right-wing sedition events and individuals are not always handled in a similar fashion. Although there are cases of politically far-right persons being victimised (perhaps) unfairly by over-eager federal law enforcement agencies – as in the Randy Weaver/Kevin Harris Incident with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) troops in 1992 – such incidents are quite rare. (See: Tom Boggioni: ‘Move over Oregon: Texas armed standoff ends after 15 years — one year after charges were dropped‘ – RawStory/Jan. 8th, 2016)
On the whole, Caucasian terrorists/mass shooters and far-right organisations are statistically given much more of a chance to survive a police/FBI encounter and explain themselves in a court of law than are non-Caucasians, non-Christians and/or leftist persons and groups. This happens in light of the fact that right-wing extremists are much more likely to engage in head-to-head violence against both law enforcement as well as the general civil society strictly motivated by anti-social animus. (Ben Mathis-Lilley: ‘White extremist murders: Killed at least 60 in U.S. since 1995‘ – Slate/Jun. 18Th, 2015 – and – ‘DHS Warns of the Greatest Threat Since 9/11: Homegrown Violent Extremism‘ – Public Intelligence/Feb. 9Th, 2011)
In the infamous case of the 2014 confrontation between the Bundy Family and federal officials which saw far-rightists aiming weapons at federal officers, not one of the Bundy clan or any of their supporters were shot; beaten; tased; arrested or ever charged with threatening government law enforcement agents carrying out their duties. (See: George Knapp: ‘I-Team: Police faced possible ‘bloodbath’ at Bundy protest‘ – KLAS-TV/Apr. 30Th, 2014)
In the case of the Malheur Reserve takeover, local law enforcement has gone so far as to agree to meet with the terrorists in private and cordial, non-threatening meetings. And when face-to-face with the offenders, law enforcement did not take the opportunity to take the leaders of the coup into custody nor was there any attempt made to remove their ‘security detail’ from the illegally-occupied refuge grounds or the property’s headquarters. Interestingly enough, it has been reported that the local sheriff actually offered the Bundy group ‘safe passage’ out of the state if they would leave peacefully. A ‘request’ (rather than an order) that the Bundy separatists have steadfastly refused, even after promising to leave if the local community asked them to end their occupation. The community has certainly made it known that they want the Bundy’s to go home to no apparent avail or interest to the zealous seditionists who say they plan to stay in the Malheur Reserve for ‘years’.
Moreover, local law enforcement is seems is unable (if unwilling) to handle the situation. Despite vociferous claims by the Bundy’s and their supporters that the Malheur Reserve seditionists are ‘peaceful and law-abiding’, local sheriff D. Ward has been forced to relocate his family members after receiving numerous death threats and at least one report of his spouse being followed home by persons unknown to her. And there is open speculation that the Bundy Separatists may be preparing to ‘arrest’ the local sheriff – David Ward – and charge him with ‘treason’ (See: Travis Gettys: ‘Here’s why Oregon militants might be planning to ‘arrest’ the sheriff and execute him for treason‘ – RawStory/Jan 08th, 2016 – and – John M Glionna: ‘Oregon sheriff has received numerous death threats since militia takeover‘ – Jan 07th, 2016)
Furthermore, the corporate-owned mainstream news media have accorded the illegal occupiers ample airtime to freely disseminate their anti-government propaganda; conspiracy theories; religious beliefs and to defend their open threats against law enforcement, (if they attempt to enter the Malheur Refuge and/or take them into custody). Mainstream media has gone above and beyond what is necessary to painstakingly present a sympathetic eye rather than objective reportage of what is in fact a right-wing coup d’etat attempt being made against the administration of Barack H. Obama.
This is simply outrageous on a variety of levels. First, the fact that a gang of right-wing coup plotters would dare an attempt within the heart of the United States Empire against the administration of the first African-American president is jarring enough. But the fact that an obvious act of sedition is taking place without a direct and concentrated effort by any relevant government authority to suppress an ostensibly anti-government event is (itself) telling and self-explanatory in relation to the public discourse concerning institutional White Privilege, US firearms culture and the conspicuously extremist political sentiments of the contemporary American right-wing.
Many around the world have noticed this paradox. And what is most egregious about the entire affair is the visible silence of the federal government, which is having the blow-back effect of encouraging like-minded far-rightists to step-up their efforts at pursuing similar rightist-led insurrections against the United States system of government. One does not have to ‘agree’ with the polices of the US Government to perceive that what is occurring in the US state of Oregon isn’t in ‘defence’ of anything (the Manchester Guardian records 1,134 deaths of young African males in police custody in 2015 alone) other than the determined will of a small number of hardcore neo-fascists seeking to impose their extreme concepts of ultra-nationalist White Christian hegemony; American Exceptionalism and settler control over federal lands to a larger audience. (See: David Edwards: ‘Ammon Bundy: Armed militia is ‘a defense mechanism’ so we can ‘unwind’ federal ownership of land‘ – RawStory/Jan. 4Th, 2016)
The Bottom-Line: The Bundy Family and their supporters are dangerous extremists who are trying to justify their actions by way of a far-right, Libertarian perspective that ignores the authority of the federal government in favour of ‘States Rights’ and denies any responsibility for acknowledging Native American claims to their ancestral and/or treaty-accorded lands in favour of unquestioned European settler occupation. Their call to ‘release the land’ to White farmers and cattlemen is nonsensical and entirely neo-colonialist, being that the lands in question have always belonged to the Northern Paiute Nation as explained by tribal member Jarvis Kennedy:
‘I’ve got a question for the world out there, because all the eyes are on this little tribe here. What if it was a bunch of natives that went out there and overtook that or any federal land? We weren’t removed; we were killed and ran off our land, marched in snow out there hundreds of miles to forts. When they finally let us go, we didn’t have no place to go. Our land was already taken. They gave us 10 acres at the city dump. Think about that.’(Source: ‘Oregon: Northern Paiute Tribe Condemns Wildlife Refuge Occupation‘ – DemocracyNow!/Jan. 7Th, 2016 – also – Ian K. Kullgren: ‘Burns Paiute Tribe: Militants need to get off “our land”‘ – oregonlive/ Jan. 06th, 2016 – and – ‘Oregon: Northern Paiute Tribe Condemns Wildlife Refuge Occupation‘ – DemocracyNow!/Jan. 7Th, 2016)
In all respects, the Bundy Family seditionists are attempting to strong-arm public lands away from the federal government, that in truth, actually still belong to the Northern Paiute who have been essentially (and historically) cheated out of their birthright by the same federal administrative authorities the Bundy group are railing against for their own selfish reasons. This ‘operation’ has nothing to do with ‘freedom’ in the United States. And the Bundy seditionists are – without any reasonable doubt – far-right racialist thugs and land thieves seeking to overthrow the US Government for the sake of individual profit under a false (and bizarre) rubric of White ethnic preservation, pious (if misguided) religious observances and a jaundiced view of the US Constitution.
If the lands incorporating the Malheur Reserve is to be ‘returned’ to anyone, it is only right and fair to return the territory to the people that have always ‘owned’ it in the first place, many centuries before European invasion and conquest, the Northern Paiute. Any suggestion (in 2016) that White Americans ‘deserve’ public lands or possess a ‘natural right’ to take federal lands by force – apathetic to the ancestral rights of Native American nations who are indigenous to North America – is politically and ethically no different than the original enforced dissolution, depopulation and dismissal of Indigenous nations by the first European settlers and their colonial descendants.
The Malheur Reserve occupation is intended to be the latest salvo in an ongoing neo-fascist coup d’etat against state and federal government. However, it is also an act of colonial violence towards the Northern Paiute people and all Indigenous Peoples within the continental United States. Nothing more, nothing less.
Respect Indigenous Human, Territorial and Legal Rights!
Respect the Ancestral and Legal Rights of the Northern Paiute Nation!
Join the International Fight Against Fascism!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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ANG Public Information Bureau / The Fourth World: