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

AP News
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Posted: Jan 29, 2016 12:37 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 have been arrested and are behind bars until another court hearing Friday. Authorities and jailed group leader Ammon Bundy now are working to persuade the handful of holdouts at the remote preserve to stand down.

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WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE REFUGE?

Federal authorities said Friday that four members of the armed group are still at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The holdouts have been frequently posting to the YouTube channel "DefendYourBase" during the nearly four-week-old standoff but have not issued a video update since Thursday morning.

That's when the occupiers said they wanted assurances they won't be 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," a speaker believed to be David Fry says in the video, in which occupiers in camouflage sit around a campfire near pickup trucks, an American flag and weapons.

It comes after federal and state law enforcement arrested 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.

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WHAT IS AMMON BUNDY SAYING?

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.

He told the holdouts Thursday: "Turn yourselves in, and do not use physical force."

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

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WHAT'S NEXT FOR THOSE ARRESTED?

So far, eleven people have been taken into custody, 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 federal judge said Thursday that she will not release any of those arrested while the occupation continues, the Oregonian reported.

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

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HOW DID THIS BEGIN?

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.

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WHAT ABOUT THE MAN KILLED?

Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a 55-year-old rancher from Arizona, died after being shot by police who stopped his truck and another vehicle carrying occupiers.

The FBI released video showing a white truck driven by Finicum taking off and officers chasing it. It shows Finicum's vehicle plowing into a snowbank, and a man identified as the rancher getting out of the truck.

At first, he has his hands up, but then he appears to reach into his pocket at least twice. The FBI said Finicum had a loaded gun, and his truck nearly hit an agent before it got stuck in the snow.

The bureau said authorities gave Finicum medical assistance about 10 minutes after the shooting, when they were sure there were no other threats.

Finicum vowed this month 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.