Oregon standoff: Harney County won't host community meeting with Bundy as … – OregonLive.com
Harney County has told an Ammon Bundy-affiliated group of locals that it can’t hold a planned community meeting at the county-owned fairgrounds.
The location for the meeting has become a wedge between the Harney County Committee of Safety and the county government, once loosely allied in their desire for Bundy to leave town.
The self-appointed committee planned to host Bundy and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne on Friday to outline the militants’ exit plan. They’ve said the 7 p.m. meeting will go on, with or without a meeting space furnished by the county or another community group.
“We have a longstanding practice of allowing community groups to use county facilities,” said Harney County commissioner Steven Grasty. “But we unfortunately now find ourselves in a place where the county must deny those facilities to any group that is supportive of, associated with, or on the behalf of the militants at the refuge.”
At a community meeting it hosted last week in at the county’s senior center in Burns, the committee read a drafted letter to Bundy offering to take on his mission while asking him to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It’s not clear if the six-member committee ever delivered that letter to Bundy.
But committee member Chris Briels, a retired Burns fire chief who held a part-time position acting as the county fire marshal, said he had resigned that post over the county’s refusal to host the meeting.
“I will not work for government or a person that I do not believe in or have faith in,” Briels said, joining the occupiers at a Wednesday news briefing at the refuge. “I will not work for somebody that I don’t trust.”
The committee formed days before Bundy and his followers began their occupation of the wildlife refuge at a meeting organized by the militants, though some members have at times resisted Bundy’s tactics.
Bundy wants to turn over the federally owned refuge land to local ranchers and loggers. He also said he won’t leave until a father and son rancher are released from prison. They were convicted of arson for lighting fires that burned federal land.
— Elliot Njus