Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told federal officials that it is time to advance on ranchers holed up in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since Jan. 2.
Protest leader Ammon Bundy and his fellow ranchers have refused to leave the Burns, Oregon, refuge over allegations of federal overreach by the Bureau of Land Management. They want the federal government to surrender its control over the land. They also want father-son ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond to be released from prison, where they are serving a prison sentence for arson.
U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan sentenced the pair to a one-year prison sentence in 2012 for fires they caused that spilled over into acreage, also leased by the Hammond Ranch. In 2014, however, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that now-retired U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan illegally sentenced the Hammonds to terms below the five-year minimum. The Hammonds were ordered back to prison, despite serving time and paying $400,000 in damages to the government.
Brown said Wednesday that her patience with the protesters is at an end.
“[Federal officials] must move quickly to end the occupation and hold all of the wrongdoers accountable,” the governor said at a press conference in Salem, CBS News reported. “The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far. I have conveyed these very grave concerns directly to our leaders at the highest levels of our government: the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House.”
Brown estimates Bundy’s protesters have cost the state $100,000 per week in resources required by multiple local law enforcement entities.
“The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far,” Brown said, CNN reported. “This spectacle of lawlessness must end. And until Harney County is free of it I will not stop insisting that federal officials enforce the law.”