Q&A: What's going on with the Oregon armed standoff

AP News
Posted: Jan 28, 2016 5:11 PM
Q&A: What's going on with the Oregon armed standoff

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — Leaders of the armed group that took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon to oppose federal land policy were arrested and will stay behind bars until at least Friday. Authorities and jailed group leader Ammon Bundy now are working to persuade the handful of holdouts at the remote preserve to stand down.



A video posted Thursday by the holdouts says four members of the armed group are still at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and will leave if no one faces arrest.

It comes after federal and state law enforcement arrested group leader Ammon Bundy and others Tuesday in a traffic stop that left one man dead and then blocked the roads leading to the property. Others were apprehended later.

In a video on the YouTube channel "DefendYourBase," which the group has been using to issue updates during the nearly four-week-old takeover, a speaker believed to be David Fry says the FBI told the group that everyone was free to leave.

But he says the occupiers want assurances they won't arrested because one person faces a federal warrant.

"We're still stuck here, four of us. They're telling us it's safe to leave, but it's not safe," according to the video, in which occupiers in camouflage sit around a campfire near pickup trucks, an American flag and weapons.



Bundy has urged those still at the refuge to leave and asked the federal government to allow the holdouts to go home without being prosecuted, according to statements released through his attorney.

As the holdouts remained at the refuge Thursday, he told them: "Turn yourselves in, and do not use physical force."

Bundy said the armed activists never pointed their weapons at anyone and "never wanted bloodshed."



So far, eleven people have been arrested, including Bundy and his brother Ryan Bundy.

They all face the same charge — conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force. Charges could be added or dropped depending on the FBI investigation, which is still underway.

A judge has ordered seven of the defendants, including the Bundys, held in jail pending a Friday hearing, saying they are a danger to the community.



The group took over the refuge on Jan. 2 to demand the federal government turn public lands over to local control and object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.

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



Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a 55-year-old rancher from Arizona, died after the traffic stop Tuesday night near the refuge. It's unclear what happened in the moments before his death.

Authorities have said shots were fired but declined to say how many or if Finicum or any of the other activists exchanged gunfire with officers. Ammon Bundy said in his statement Thursday that FBI agents told him the shooting was recorded on video.

"We are anxiously waiting to review this video," Bundy said. "Questions must be answered."

Finicum vowed a few weeks ago that he would die before spending his life behind bars. He was a prominent voice of the group, and his affable but passionate demeanor made him a popular subject for on-camera interviews.