On Monday, Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of the Bundy Family who have long been at odds with the federal government and strong advocates for constitutional limitations upon the federal government with regards to land appropriations in Western states, declared that “We the people” will retain the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon.
In a declaration obtained by PolitiStick, Bundy sent a notarized declaration to the Harney County Sheriff’s Department, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and President Barack Obama declaring:
“This is notice that We the People of Harney County and also We the People of the citizens of the United States DO GIVE NOTICE THAT WE WILL RETAIN POSSESSION OF THE HARNEY COUNTY RESOURCE CENTER.”
The declaration purposefully renamed the wildlife refuge as the “Harney County Resource Center.”
The declaration also called for the removal of all federal and state policing agents from Harney County, but stated that they could post a Sheriff’s deputy at the road leading to the wildlife refuge.
The declaration is perhaps the first step in an altercation with the federal and state government who seized-upon a convoy of protesters as they were en route to a neighboring town to speak. In the ensuing chaos, protester Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by Oregon State Police.
The FBI released aerial footage of the altercation and offered pointed commentary to justify their use of deadly force to subdue the man that many maintain was irate, but who posed no threat to police as he had his hands clearly visible and away from the firearm that was later found in his jacket.
Since then, the group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, locked-away in jail in Portland, has repeatedly communicated through his attorney that the remaining protesters at the refuge should vacate in accordance with federal demands.
Cliven Bundy’s declaration, however, indicates a re-energizing of the protest.
“What this is saying is that Cliven Bundy is taking control of things,” Cliven said in an interview on Monday. “If we don’t retain it, then we’ve lost everything that we’ve done in the last two months. We’re not gonna give up.”
He continued, “This is not Ammon’s message. This is my message … We’ve made a decision to retain it … The feds are going to get out of there.”
The elder Bundy claimed that his son, Ammon, is likely being coerced into cooperating.
“That’s what [Ammon] said, but I never believed it. I don’t think that’s what’s in his heart. He probably got his arm twisted.”
Carol, Cliven’s wife, agreed. “Ammon does not want bloodshed. But he wants the message to continue,” said Carol. “We’ve made a statement. We’ve made a stand. And we’d like to hold out.”
Cliven says that he has not spoken with his son who is in custody.
The Bundys emerged into national prominence after they successfully repelled a federal invasion of Nevada land surrounding their ranch on which they, and many other ranching families, had been grazing their cattle since the 1880’s.
In 2014, as the federal government swooped-in and began seizing cattle on the land, protesters from all over the country descended upon the remote town of Bunkerville and successfully secured the release of the stolen cattle. Since the armed confrontation, the federal government has maintained a distance from the Bunkerville area.