Things to know about arrests of activists from Oregon refuge

AP News
Posted: Jan 27, 2016 12:40 PM
Things to know about arrests of activists from Oregon refuge

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The FBI arrested the leaders of an armed group that has occupied a national wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than three weeks during a traffic stop that left one dead. Here is a rundown of what happened and what it means:



The group's leader, Ammon Bundy, and several others were heading to a community meeting Tuesday night in a small town near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to discuss their views against federal management of public lands.

Police arrested Bundy, his brother, Ryan, and three others during a traffic stop north of Burns, the FBI and Oregon State Police said in a statement. Officers shot and killed a man wanted by federal authorities, but few other details were released.

It was not clear what led to the shooting or if he or any of the other ranchers exchanged gunfire with officers.

Separately, three others tied to the standoff were arrested: two in Burns and one in Arizona.



Authorities didn't identify the person, but the daughter of an Arizona rancher told the Oregonian that it was her father. Arianna Finicum Brown told the newspaper that Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, 55, of Cane Beds, Arizona, died.

He was a public presence at the refuge, often speaking for the group at news conferences. He told The Associated Press on Jan. 5 that he was not going to go to jail.

"This is where I'm going to breathe my last breath, whether I'm 90, 95 or 55," Finicum said at the refuge.



The FBI didn't say, but authorities had come under increasing pressure from Oregon's governor, local officials, residents and a nearby tribe to act after having taken a hands-off approach.

Bundy's group had been free to come and go. They held frequent news conferences at the refuge, traveled to meet with sympathizers and others, and attended community meetings. At one last week, locals shouted at them to leave.

Ammon Bundy had been in contact with an FBI negotiator and local law enforcement.



The group took over the refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land restrictions and object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.

Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, reported back to prison this month after serving no more than a year on arson convictions. A judge ruled the terms fell short of minimum sentences that require them to serve about four more years.

The case led Bundy's group to demand an inquiry into whether the government is forcing ranchers off their land, though the Hammonds distanced themselves from the group. It's a clash over public lands that dates back decades in the West.



It was unclear how many people remained at the refuge, but armed activists still are believed to be holed up there. Jason Patrick, a new leader of the occupation, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that five or six group members are continuing the standoff.

The FBI established checkpoints around the preserve out of "an abundance of caution." Only ranchers who live in the area surrounding the preserve will be allowed to pass.



Those arrested face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats, the FBI said.