Oregon standoff Day 22: What you need to know Saturday – OregonLive.com
As we enter Day 22 of the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, here are the latest developments:
● Negotiations to end the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge went awry Friday, as protest leader Ammon Bundy questioned the FBI’s legal authority to even be in Harney County. The next step toward resolving the 3-week-old standoff isn’t clear. The hang-up appears to be Bundy’s belief that FBI
agents have no standing to deal with the refuge takeover unless they’re deputized by Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward.
● Two cars traveling along desolate Sodhouse Lane slowed as they neared Duncan Evered, busy packing a rucksack with mail he emptied from the roadside box. Evered was alone out on the desert Jan. 2. He was the last employee left at the Malheur Field Station, a separate nonprofit island within the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He had no idea his neighbors at refuge headquarters four miles away had left days earlier, warned of potential trouble. “I got this slightly spooky feeling,” said Evered, co-director of the field station. “These people just looked at me.” He trudged back to the compound that Saturday night, ready to eat after a long day of tending the field station buildings. His cellphone buzzed to life. “Duncan, you need to get out of there now because you have an armed militia down the road,” said the caller, a federal law enforcement officer. That was three weeks ago and those with the Great Basin Society Inc., the nonprofit that runs the field station, worry what’s become of their compound since armed militants moved onto the refuge.
● The man spearheading an armed occupation in defense of the rural lifestyle and values of eastern Oregon grew up in the urban sprawl of Southern California and honed his tactical skills as an Army scout. Ryan Payne now defines himself as a Montana militiaman and anointed protector of the downtrodden ranchers who valiantly fight federal overreach on the West’s vast stretches of shrub land. He doesn’t wear a cowboy hat like Ammon Bundy, his partner in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, but Payne sounds every bit the sagebrush revolutionary when he speaks — especially on his favorite topics, the U.S. Constitution and the powers it bestows to “We the People.” His journey to the refuge began in the stark desert landscapes of Southern California and Iraq, where he says three experiences shaped his worldview.
● The group present at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters 30 miles south of Burns, Ore. since Jan. 2 has ebbed and flowed. Some protesters appear to have spent the night continuously, while others have come and gone. A few people describe themselves, in videos from the compound, as sympathetic visitors who drove great distances to see firsthand what’s happening. We’ve put together a partial list of individuals who have appeared at the compound, along with what’s known of their roles.
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Les Zaitz @LesZaitz