“The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
Justice Scalia wrote those words to start the majority opinion in DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL. v. HELLER, which reaffirmed the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms for Americans.
Justice Scalia’s death on Saturday is a huge blow to not just our gun rights, but many conservative values, and of course the liberals are jumping for joy in the most sickening ways. Liberals once again proved why they are not the warm, loving and kind people they claimed to be by posting comments about their happiness at Scalia’s passing, including many comments about urinating on his grave.
The Scales of Justice
While the POTUS and most liberals will say the Supreme Court has been too conservative, it has actually been pretty balanced as far as both sides are concerned. With Scalia on the bench, the Second Amendment was protected and yet liberal agenda’s like gay marriage were granted, so no matter where you stand on those issues, you must admit that it was a balance.
A dramatic shift would occur if another liberal judge is appointed to the court and cases involving the right to bear arms or protections of the Constitution could take a very negative turn.
Before Scalia’s body was cold, the President proclaimed that he would nominate a replacement and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said, “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
This is actually as important as choosing the next POTUS as a liberal Supreme Court could override many decisions a Republican president or Congress makes in the coming years. The next President will probably have a chance to replace several judges on the court as well, since several are close to retirement.
The power the Supreme Court has over our lives with its decisions cannot be underestimated, and your rights could be in a very precarious position right now.
A Great Writer
He was a he was one of the great writers in the court’s history and even more so in his dissents than when writing opinions in favor of the majority. He always stuck to his beliefs and often showed his outrage when the court ruled against them.
When the court struck down a state law that made private homosexual conduct a crime, Scalia wrote,
“It is clear from this that the court has taken sides in the culture war, and in particular in that battle of the culture war that concerns whether there should be any moral opprobrium attached to homosexual conduct.”
He claimed the court was supporting same-sex marriage with that opinion, even though the majority denied it. A decade later, same-sex marriage had been legalized in 13 states. And the Supreme Court, with Scalia in once again in dissent, struck down a federal law that had denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Once again, Justice Scalia was proven to be correct in his original opinion.
When the court did decree that same-sex marriage was the law of the land, he once again wrote a scathing dissent saying the majority decision was a “threat to American democracy.” He wrote,
“Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact, and the furthest extension one can even imagine, of the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the
Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
He was a firm believer in the Constitution and that it should be interpreted exactly as it was written, not adjusted for the times as so many Federal Judges seem to do. He said,
“The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the courts, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
He Changed the Court for the Better
Scalia changed more than just legal doctrine, he changed the way the court interacts with the cases they take on. The justices asked few questions during oral arguments before Scalia and once appointed, the junior justice, started flooding lawyers with questions relentlessly. Not long after, other justices started to take a more active role in questioning the lawyers just like Scalia did.
He was always something of a purist when it came to the Constitution, declaring that the Bush administration could not imprison an American citizen indefinitely without charge. On this, his opinion was by far the most radical on the court, he stated,
“If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime, it must be done openly and democratically as the Constitution requires, rather than by silent erosion through an opinion of this court.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement, “He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the court and the country he so loyally served.”
Born in 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey, Justice Scalia was the first Italian American to serve on the high court. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, President Obama said, “For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was a larger than life presence on the bench. A brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, an incisive wit and colorful opinions, he influenced a generation of judges, lawyers and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.”
No Autopsy Being Performed
I’m usually one to look at conspiracy theories as nothing more than inventive humor, but occasionally the facts actually add up and the outlandish becomes the reality. Almost immediately there were people calling the Justice’s death a hit, that the Obama administration had him killed so that they could appoint a liberal justice to the court which would further erode conservative values.
A judge declared Scalia dead over the phone at 1:52 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Law enforcement officials had said there was no sign of foul play and his remains were embalmed early Sunday morning to comply with the Texas law that states a body must be embalmed before being moved out of state.
But that all seems too packaged doesn’t it? Declaring someone dead over the phone because 2 local justices were out of town, no autopsy performed, no drug screening and the body embalmed the next day, etc. That is exactly how I would write a movie script for killing a Supreme Court Judge and getting away with it.
There is even one report that the judge was found with a pillow over his head. That’s not a common sleeping pattern for most people, but this report has not been confirmed at this time.
A needle small enough to look like a mosquito bite would be all that is needed to administer the correct drugs to induce a heart attack and the Central Intelligence Agency supposedly has a gun that can fire such a dart and leave no real traces, but then we are getting into what most would consider crazy talk with black helicopters and secret deals, etc.
FYI: There are helicopters that are painted black, and secret deals happen every day, especially in Washington D.C.
Blocking a Nomination
Democrats are already calling for Republicans to do their duty to the Constitution and approve any nominee that President Obama sends forth, but don’t forget how much Democrats love blocking nominees.
Robert Bork is probably one of the most famous nominations to the Supreme Court that Democrats refused to confirm. One of the key Democrats leading the charge to block Bork’s nomination was then Senator Joe Biden, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A recent example is Miguel Estrada; he was nominated by Bush in 2001. Estrada would have been the first Hispanic member in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in history. But, Democrats blocked Miguel Estrada for more than two years. Eventually Estrada got tired of the Democrat filibustering and withdrew his name from consideration in late 2003.
Regardless of who ends up sitting on the court, the country just lost one of the greatest defenders of the Constitution and he will be forever remembered in his writings of the law.
Things at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge changed with the FBI surrounding the group remaining at the refuge and insisting they put down their arms and surrender immediately.
Remaining at the refuge are David Fry, 27, from the Cincinnati area, Jeff Banta, 46, from Elko, Nevada, Sean Anderson, 47, and his wife Sandy, 48, from Riggins, Idaho.
The four are the remainders of the group, the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, who took over the wildlife refuge headquarters Jan. 2. The four have been alone since Jan. 28, two days after the occupation leaders were arrested on a highway north of Burns and protest spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was murdered in an ambush by the FBI and Oregon State Police.
Attempts to End the Standoff
There have been repeated efforts to bring the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a peaceful conclusion. Ammon Bundy, who participated in the armed standoff in 2014 at his father’s ranch over grazing fees, has issued written and taped statements through his attorneys urging the four holdouts to leave the refuge. The FBI has been conducting telephone negotiations for days, but Fry and the others have insisted they wouldn’t leave unless they had immunity from arrest.
The four have rejected the demands to surrender for several hours before one of them said they will turn themselves in at a checkpoint once Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Christian evangelist Franklin Graham arrive in the morning. Others had offered to intercede on their behalf as well.
The remaining four occupiers livestreamed the standoff as it played out for hours through an open phone line on YouTube. An estimated 60,000 people listened as the occupiers displayed anger and panic, prayed with those on the phone and yelled at the FBI agents surrounding them.
“There’s nowhere for you to go,” one officer was heard saying.
David Fry was heard shouting back, “We’re leaving tomorrow.”
In a statement, the FBI said one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside their encampment at 4:30 p.m. When FBI agents tried to approach the driver, he returned “at a high rate of speed” to the camp. Agents then moved into position ahead and behind “the area where the occupiers are camping” with armored vehicles.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing, said: “It has never been the FBI’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully.”
But, Bretzing said, “we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area.”
All four face arrest on a federal charge of conspiracy for their roles in the armed occupation. They are among 16 others that have been indicted on that charge along with Ammon and Ryan Bundy and others that were at the refuge.
A Dramatic Open Phone Call
The occupiers talked over each other as the call moderator, identified on the YouTube feed as Gavin Seim, tried to sort out the identities and relayed calls for help to outside parties.
“Just hang in there,” he said as he tried to give the occupiers encouragement and calm them down.
At one point over the audio, Sean Anderson was heard yelling, “Did your boss send you here to kill innocent Americans?” at the FBI agents surrounding them.
An agent over a loudspeaker said: “David, I want to talk to you.”
“What do you want?” Fry replied, then yelled, “You guys killed LaVoy” and “You let Obama bring terrorists into our country.”
Sean Anderson said there were five armored vehicles around the camp. “They have way more guns than us. We need help. … We will not fire until we’re fired upon,” he said.
Anderson also was heard saying: “Mark, you promised and you lied again,” apparently referring to an FBI negotiator.
His wife Sandy chimed in that the four have been asked to put down their guns, but “our weapons are at our sides.”
They said they had planned to meet Thursday with Fiore and that they had been told Cliven Bundy would appear as well. They also said they wanted someone to get in touch with Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham who had been in touch with the occupiers at one point previously.
Graham later called in, reaching Sean Anderson. Graham offered to be at the refuge at 7 a.m. Thursday to join the occupiers in walking out to surrender, Anderson said. It was unclear if the FBI would entertain such an offer. The occupiers reported that they were told by the FBI that no one else would be allowed onto the refuge, so it is unclear if Graham and Fiore would be allowed to enter the refuge.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the father of jailed occupation leader Ammon Bundy, also appeared to be heading to Burns, according to the “Official Bundy Ranch” Facebook page.
Even then, Sandy Anderson seemed to balk at surrendering. “I am not going to jail for standing up for my rights,” she said.
“If my wife says she’s not leaving, I’m not leaving,” her husband Sean said.
Earlier in the night, Sean Anderson said that the occupiers would shoot only if fired upon. He said they all expected to be killed.
As the standoff continued, Fiore, the Nevada assemblywoman, got on the live stream line to offer to negotiate between the occupiers and the FBI. Fiore had just arrived in Portland and was scheduled to appear Thursday at a news conference supporting Ammon Bundy. For several hours, Fiore stayed on the line as she rode in a car with other state legislators in a race to reach the refuge and walk the occupiers out.
Over and over, Assemblywoman Fiore stopped the conversation to lead or ask someone to lead the group in prayer. The Andersons were the most frequently heard voices on the call. At one point, Jeff Banta talked with Fiore but only for moments and most of the time he could not be heard. Fry also disappeared from the feed, apparently stepping away from the phone to deal with the FBI agents surrounding them.
For a time, Fry was on a second phone talking to an FBI negotiator. He was apparently told that the agent wouldn’t talk to the Assemblywoman. Only Fry’s part of the conversation was audible.
“I will come to the refuge,” Fiore said. “They have to let someone to negotiate. We cannot afford more bloodshed.” She urged the four to keep calm as she tried to talk directly to the FBI by phone.
“Listen, we’re not coming out,” Fry was heard saying on the phone to the FBI negotiator. “You need to find another option.”
Bundy Arrested in Oregon
Cliven Bundy, the rancher who touched off the armed showdown with federal authorities at his ranch in Nevada and who supported the standoff in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport as he was on his way to the refuge near Burns.
Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m. and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.
He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer, the same charge lodged against his two sons for their role in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He also faces weapons charges.
Bundy has been watched closely since his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, but the feds have somewhat left him alone since then. He has not paid grazing fees for his cattle using federal land and the agency claims he owes $1 million in unpaid fees and penalties.
He and many supporters confronted federal agents who had impounded Bundy’s cattle that were found on federal property. To avoid bloodshed, the federal agents retreated and Bundy’s supporters turned loose the cattle.
The remaining occupiers did in fact surrender on Thursday, albeit a bit later than originally planned and only 3 at first with David Fry initially balking at the idea.
The event again played out live on a call that was streamed by an acquaintance of Fry’s, who yelled rambling tirades and threats against the government on a cellphone from a cot inside a tent. Fry’s friend, tried to calm him and the others between Wednesday night and Thursday.
Fry held off his surrender for a couple of hours after the other three walked out, saying his grievances still had not been met.
“I’m actually pointing a gun at my head,” Fry said. “It’s better to die with honor than be forced to live dishonorably.”
He finally said he would leave if everyone would say, “Hallelujah.” As he walked out, officials standing nearby yelled it out for him to hear.
An officer told him to put his hands behind his back and then the online call went silent.
For those that have called these men and women domestic terrorists or criminals I would ask what your response would be if the government tried to push you out of your home and your job? Would you simply allow it to happen or would you try to fight back in any way you can?
Remember these people did attempt to resolve their issues in the Federal Courts which obviously sided with the Federal Government, before resorting to making public statements like the 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch and the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Expect Cliven’s other two sons Mel and Dave to be arrested at the first opportunity and their ranch seized for the unpaid fees. The BLM will finally get both the Bundy Ranch as well as The Hammond Ranch once they fail to pay all their penalties as well.
In the end, the unstoppable BLM gets their way again, freedom and the Constitution take another step back in return. Let’s hope those ranchers along the Red River in Texas fare a bit better.
Dwight and Steven Hammond
The Hammonds faced a minimum of 5 years up to the death penalty for accidentally burning some public land under the “Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996”, even though they had lawfully started the fires on their own property for sound reasons. The judge sentenced Steven to 1 year and Dwight to 3 months in prison and they served their sentences, but the BLM was not satisfied.
The BLM demanded that the sentences be at least the minimum of 5 years required of the charges and persisted for years, until the Hammonds were resentenced under the harsh terrorism law. This enraged many fellow ranchers and Patriots who felt the Hammonds were being unlawfully persecuted by the BLM, since they had already served their time as set down by the judge.
One major point of contention is that federal agencies burn thousands of acres of public land and even private land, without consequence, even if those fires destroy private homes. No one from the BLM has ever been held accountable for the destruction of private property when using the same back burn practices.
Had the land been under local control, it is doubtful this situation would have ever exploded in this manner. It could have been resolved under state law by local juries, judges and officials accountable to their local communities, not by a faceless government screaming terrorism for using the same practices that they use. The conflict would have been resolved locally by the will of the people, which is the way American government was designed to operate.
On January 2, 2016, several hundred citizens marched in protest to the conviction of Dwight and Steven Hammond in the little town of Burns, Oregon.
Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
After the march in Burns, around 15 armed protesters occupied the vacant office buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The protesters were led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy and started calling themselves the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. More patriots soon arrived at the refuge.
Ammon Bundy reportedly said that he began leading the occupation after receiving a divine message ordering him to do so. Ammon is Cliven Bundy son and used much of the same language as his father during the standoff at their ranch in Nevada, a mashing up of Mormon symbolism and a disdain of the federal government during the occupation.
One member of Bundy’s militant group refused to give any other name to the press than “Captain Moroni, from Utah” and was quoted as saying, “I didn’t come here to shoot. I came here to die.”
The group has demanded the release of the Hammonds and that the federal government cede ownership of the refuge to the people in the area or the local government and have no further dealings in the matter. They also expressed a willingness to engage in armed conflict on several occasions.
During the occupation, law enforcement allowed the group to come and go from the refuge at will. However, Kenneth Medenbach, of Crescent, Oregon, was apprehended by the FBI in Burns on January 15, while driving a vehicle stolen from the refuge facility; a second vehicle stolen from the wildlife refuge was also recovered at the scene.
Both vehicles bore altered markings of “Harney County Resource Center” on the doors, the unofficial name the group began calling the refuge since shortly after the occupation. Duane Kirkland, of Hamilton, Montana, was also arrested by the Oregon State Police on January 20 for allegations of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Kirkland was released without charges.
The Assassination of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum
On January 26, the main leaders of the group attempted to nearby Grant County, Oregon, where Ammon Bundy was scheduled to speak at a public meeting. It was the first time in which the main leaders were traveling together away from the refuge headquarters. State and federal authorities used the opportunity to ambush them with a traffic stop on a stretch of U.S. Route 395, situated away from populated areas and any potential witnesses.
This is of course where the government’s story of what transpired does not match those of the people in the vehicle that Finicum was driving.
The short story from the government is that they stopped both vehicles, but Finicum soon sped off and after crashing into a snow bank, exited his vehicle with his hands up, and then reached for his concealed 9mm handgun at which point he was shot and killed.
If you have looked at the drone footage provided by the government, that story sure looks like it could be the truth. However, a lack of sound on the footage leaves one major thing as an unknown, when did the shooting actually start?
The FBI’s account is that three shots were fired killing Mr. Finicum as he appeared to reach for a concealed gun initially having his hands in the air after exiting his vehicle.
But, eyewitness accounts, along with several critical reviews of the video call the FBI version into serious question, claiming that government agents had already fired two shots at the truck and were firing at him as soon as he exited the vehicle in an attempt to surrender. At no time did Finicum or anyone in the vehicle fire at the officers even after taking fire.
According to an eyewitness statement from an 18-year old female passenger in Mr. Finicum’s pickup, Victoria Sharp, that Mr. Finicum was shot first, while his hands were in the air as he exited his vehicle and that the officers fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition at him and the vehicle, not the 3 rounds fired the government alleges.
The media has given little attention to Ms. Sharp’s first-hand recounting, on the other hand, Facebook videos posted by Mr. McConnell have received broad attention where he claimed that Mr. Finicum was shot while rushing at law enforcement agents. He has since recanted these stories as he was over a mile away when the shooting took place.
According to Shawna Cox who was also in the vehicle with Finicum, he only sped away from the first stop because they were fired upon by the officers with one shot hitting the passenger side mirror. Ryan Payne exited the vehicle from the front passenger seat and was arrested.
Shawna Cox and Victoria were in the back seat of the vehicle along with Ryan Bundy and they all tried to take cover laying on the floor boards because as Finicum drove away the officers and agents showered the vehicle with bullets, at least 120 by Ms. Sharp account.
Victoria recounts that she and Shawna Cox were screaming and pleading that the FBI stop shooting. She then explains that Finicum ended up driving the vehicle into the snow embankment and it was stuck, so he got out of the truck with his hands up. She says he was just walking in the snow with his hands in the air.
Shawna Cox ads that the FBI was firing on the vehicle before Finicum exited with his hands in the air, she felt that this was his attempt to protect the women in the vehicle and that he yelled “just shoot me” many times, as if they would stop the assault on the vehicle by putting all the attention on himself.
According to Victoria’s account, she personally witnessed that the FBI, and multiple shooters shoot Finicum many times, including after he hit the ground and that as he lay dead on the ground his hands were still up above his head.
She then says, after this, the government continued to riddle the vehicle with dozens, possibly hundreds of bullets, and that the only reason the two women and Ryan Bundy survived was that the shooters had a bad angle. Ryan Bundy was hit by a bullet or shrapnel during this attack on the vehicle. It should be noted that no one ever fired a weapon from the vehicle.
After the Murder
Victoria Sharp was not charged with any crimes and is free. Shawna Cox was arrested and released on bail with conditions that she be placed on home detention with GPS monitoring and that her travel be limited to Kanab, Utah, Fredonia, Arizona, and Multnomah County for future court appearances.
She also was ordered to not possess or control any firearms, surrender her passport and have no contact with the co-defendants in the case. Because of the firearm restriction, her family took the firearms from her home to her son-in-law’s shop/garage for secure storage.
Strangely and tragically, her son-in-law, 37-year-old Logan S. Brown, was killed in the shop/garage while in possession of the guns when a fire engulfed the building. Initial reports are that the fire was accidental and due to a faulty stove.
Blaine Cooper who was at the refuge said, “When they left to go over to the other county, all of them left their weapons behind. As far as Ammon wasn’t armed, LaVoy wasn’t armed, all of LaVoy’s (Finicum’s) weapons were at the refuge when he left.” This would make the 9mm the FBI says Finicum was reaching for a plant by the agents, no weapon was seen in the available video.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Barrow said an indictment was returned against the 11 people who have already been arrested as well as others, perhaps a reference to the last four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge who have refused to leave.
Regardless of how you feel about the occupation of the refuge, the actions of our government against the Hammonds is shameful and should frighten any home or land owner in the United States. As I have stated, I feel the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a mistake, and some well-intentioned patriots got sucked into an action that did not serve its intended purpose.
In fact, the occupation turned many against the patriot militias and are justifying the governments fear of them. This could lead to further crackdowns on militias, the forced disarming of groups that are deemed a threat to the United States, and more. The exact opposite of what many intended.
The ambush and subsequent murder of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum however should outrage every American and make them realize that our government does not and will not protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness if it conflicts at all with their needs.
The BLM is Doing the Same Thing in Texas
Along the Red River at the Texas / Oklahoma border, the BLM claims that despite ranchers having a deed for their properties and having paid property taxes on the land each year, the land should never have been sold to them, as it is actually federal land.
This surprisingly happened when the BLM decided to “redefine” the boundary lines along the Red River, to half a mile inland from the river. For ranchers like Ken Aderholt this means the BLM now claims 625 of his property’s 1,250 acres, including the land where his home is built.
Aderholt has also been paying property taxes on the full acreage and that, in the past, it was determined that the federal government only owned a tiny “sliver” of land along the river in the gradient boundary and he has a deed issued by the State of Texas for the rest.
The BLM simply replies that the State of Texas should never have produced that deed as the land was federal land and that they can take the property from him legally. It should be noted that Aderholt’s family has lived and raised cattle on the land for the past 70 years.
Expect this to turn into another “Oregon” type issue if the BLM persists in stealing these rancher’s lands.
If we can be murdered at will by our own government or have our land stolen from us anytime the BLM decides to “redefine” boundaries, are we really still a free nation?
The Hammond Ranch and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
The Hammond ranch is located in the Harney Basin which was originally settled in the 1870’s. The valley was settled by several ranchers and was known to have run over 300,000 head of cattle. These ranchers developed a state of the art irrigation system to water the meadows for the cattle and it soon became a favorite stopping place for migrating birds on their annual trek north.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was created on August 18, 1908 by a proclamation from President Roosevelt, under a law which allowed the president to declare game preserves on federal public land. The refuge began as an 81,786-acre parcel surrounding Malheur Lake, Harney Lake and Mud Lake, and was originally named the Malheur Lake Refuge.
The refuge has grown to its current size of 187,756 acres through federal purchases and acquisitions of surrounding lands, including some by using eminent domain. Anyone that has dealings with the government exercising eminent domain knows that it is basically the legalize theft of your property.
Yes, you are compensated for the property, but rather than putting your property up for sale, the government simply forces you to sell it. For farmers and ranchers who work the land for years, this can be a very bitter pill to swallow.
The refuge now stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide. The expansion of the refuge grew until it now surrounds to the Hammond’s ranch. Being approached many times by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Hammonds refused to sell. Other ranchers also choose not to sell.
In the 1970’s the FWS, in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), took a different approach to get the ranchers to sell. Ranchers were told that, “grazing was detrimental to wildlife and must be reduced.” 32 of 53 grazing permits were revoked and many ranchers were forced to leave with no way to feed their cattle. Grazing fees were raised significantly for those who were allowed to remain. Refuge personnel took over the ranchers’ irrigation system claiming it as their own and controlling where the water went.
By 1980 a conflict over water allocations on the privately owned Silvies Plain adjacent the refuge. The FWS wanted to acquire the ranch lands on the Silvies Plain for the refuge. Refuge personnel intentional diverted the water from the vast meadowlands and into the rising Malheur Lakes.
Within a few short years thirty-one of the ranches on the Silvies plains were flooded. The ranchers that once fought to keep the FWS from taking their land, now begged the FWS to acquire their useless ranches. The waters were then diverted back to the meadows and the Silvies plains are now part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The Hammonds filed on a livestock water source and obtained a deed for the water rights from the State of Oregon in the early 1990’s. When the BLM and FWS found out that the Hammonds had obtained new water rights near the refuge, they became vindictive towards the Hammonds.
The FWS challenged the Hammonds right to the water in an Oregon State Circuit Court. The court found that the Hammonds had legally obtained rights to the water in accordance with State laws and therefore the use of the water belongs to the Hammonds.
In August 1994 the BLM & FWS illegally began building a fence around the Hammonds water source. Owning the water rights, the Hammonds tried to stop the building of the fence. The BLM & FWS called the Harney County Sheriff department and had Dwight Hammond arrested and charged with 2 counts of “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors, which are felony charges.
Dwight Hammond spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before he was taken before a federal magistrate and released without bail. A hearing on the charges was postponed and the federal judge never set another date.
Shortly after the water dispute and some right of access road closures, the BLM & FWS arbitrarily revoked the Hammond’s grazing permit for their upper areas of their ranch without any reason or court ruling. As a traditional “fence out state”, Oregon requires no obligation on the part of an owner to keep his or her livestock within a fence or to maintain control over the movement of the livestock.
The Hammonds intended to still use their private property for grazing. However, they were informed that a federal judge in a federal court had ruled that the federal government did not have to observe the Oregon fence out law and that those laws are for the people, not for government.
This cut their ranch in almost half and they could not afford to fence the land, so the cattle were removed. The Hammonds experienced many years of financial hardship due to the ranch being diminished. The Hammonds were forced to sell their ranch and home in order to purchase another property that had enough grass to feed their cattle.
This new property included two grazing rights on public land. Those grazing rights were also revoked later by the BLM. The owner of the Hammond’s original ranch passed away from a heart attack and the Hammonds made a trade to get the ranch back.
In 2001 they lit a prescribed burn which is a common range management practice to control weeds and improve forage, also on their own property. They informed the Fire Department before setting the fire.
The Hammond family also lit grassfires in 2006 to create a back burn, on their own property to stop summer lightning fires headed in their direction.
The fires worked perfectly to improve and protect the range as the Hammonds wanted, except the fires did burn onto adjacent BLM controlled public land. The Hammonds openly acknowledged having lit the fires, and they also put the prescribed fire out when it burned off of their property.
Arson charges were brought against the father and son duo under the “Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996,” because a small portion of land under federal control was burned. This law carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of death.
When the judge realized that no real “crime” was committed and the stiff sentencing under the terrorism law did not apply to the case, he issued much lighter sentences and the Hammonds served the time the judge sentenced them to.
But the BLM is in charge of the public lands did not accept the lighter sentencing and persisted for years until the Hammonds were resentenced under the harsh terrorism law. The Hammonds protested the verdict but followed the law and turned themselves in to serve the rest of their sentences. The did not request assistance from anyone, nor did the approve of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
As you may or may not know the Hammonds ranch and other ranch-lands surrounding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge sit atop a vast swath of precious metals, minerals, and uranium that is heavily desired by not only the federal government, but foreign entities as well.
This could be a huge motivation for the BLM to seize the land especially considering Hillary Clinton’s dealings with the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company, to Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, Rosatom. This actually allows the Russian company access to one-fifth of the uranium in the United States.
As the Russians assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his own family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. Very shady dealings involving Hillary Clinton for sure.
With the Hammond men locked up for the rest of their 5 year sentences, the ranch will probably have to be sold, and of course, during the court preceding the Hammonds were forced to grant the BLM first right of refusal. If the Hammonds ever sold their ranch they would have to sell it to the BLM. This is one of the ways they swallow up more and more land and put these ranchers out to pasture for good.
In Part 3 we will talk about the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by the Bundy sons, the group Citizens for Constitutional Freedom and the controversy surrounding the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in an ambush by Federal agents and State Police.
Many people only recently became aware of this war with the 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada and the ongoing takeover at the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.
Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was killed in an ambush by FBI agents and state police on January as he and others were on the way from the refuge to the town of John Day, Oregon, where they had planned to speak. There are many questions concerning the actions of the FBI and police in the shooting and the reasons behind the takeover which we will examine in my next article.