Authorities said Friday that they were still working for a peaceful end to the standoff at a rural Oregon wildlife refuge, where an occupation that began nearly a month ago has dwindled to just four people who remain there even as the group’s leaders faced new court hearings following their arrest.
By late morning in eastern Oregon, there were no indications of a breakthrough in the protest over federal control of ranch lands — an armed occupation that has opened wider debates over government reach in the West and the limits of civil action in opposition.
Four holdouts have stayed hunkered down in a barricaded federal building, and they still remained in the refuge Friday morning, officials said. The FBI said Thursday night that its negotiators were in contact with the small group.
Meanwhile, FBI officials moved aggressively to dispel questions about the shooting death Tuesday of one of the most high-profile occupiers of a rural Oregon wildlife refuge. A video appears to show the man reaching for a loaded handgun before being shot by an Oregon state trooper.
While the video is low-quality and leaves room for interpretation, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland division, said Thursday the officers who fired at LaVoy Finicum believed he made two moves with his right hand to reach toward the loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun inside his jacket.
Finicum, a cowboy-hat-wearing spokesman for the occupiers who took over a building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns on Jan. 2, was killed in an operation that also resulted in the arrests of five people, including the group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, and his brother, Ryan.
With 11 occupiers in custody, just four were left at the refuge, resisting fresh calls from their jailed leader to “turn yourselves in and do not use physical force.”
SOURCE: Kevin Sullivan, Carissa Wolf and Mark Berman
The Washington Post