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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Oregon Occupation Ends; Cliven Bundy Arrested

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - After 41 days, the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is over and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was arrested entering the state to rally for the release of his jailed sons.

Three of the last four holdouts - husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada - walked out of the refuge on Thursday morning and surrendered to the FBI after lengthy negotiations that included Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas.

The last remaining militant, David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, stayed on for another hour and a half and threatened to kill or be killed before finally surrendering at 11 a.m.

There were no injuries and no shots were fired, according to an FBI statement.

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was arrested by the FBI late Wednesday night when he arrived at the Portland airport for a rally to support his jailed sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy.

Spokeswoman Beth Ann Steele said the FBI would announce the charges against the elder Bundy on Thursday morning.

Cliven Bundy held his own armed standoff against the federal government in 2014 over $1 million in unpaid fees for grazing his cattle on public land. He has called for others to join him in refusing to pay grazing fees that he and his sons say are unconstitutional.

The government has never collected the grazing fees Cliven Bundy has refused to pay for more than a decade. It called off the agents sent to arrest him in 2014 for fear of violence from his armed supporters.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy spearheaded the armed occupation at the Oregon wildlife refuge on Jan. 2. The brothers, the four militants arrested today and 14 other defendants already in jail all face charges of conspiring to keep federal officers from doing their jobs.

With the occupation over, federal authorities have access to refuge, its grounds, offices and computers. It's possible that the occupiers could face additional charges based on what the FBI finds.

"Much work is left to assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts," Billy J. Williams, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said. "We are committed to seeing the job done and to pursue justice for the crimes committed during the illegal occupation."

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