Interviewed on CNN, Art Roderick said armed protesters who are occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon are not being treated by authorities in the same way that Black Lives Matter protesters and Muslims have been because they were “not looting anything.” The law enforcement analyst was responding to the unfolding situation outside the county seat of Harney County.
On January 2, an armed group of occupiers seized the federal facility. No injuries to police or federal officials have been reported. It was on that day that some 300 persons showed up in Burns OR to protest the pending imprisonment of local ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond, who are facing five years’ confinement on arson charges.
We want the government to abide by the Constitution and play by rules. This is what this protest is about. #OccupyMalheur
Speaking on January 3, Roderick told Brian Stelter of CNN that police and law enforcement should not react with force. He said, “The last thing we need is some type of large confrontation because that’s when stuff goes bad,” Roderick said.
“And I think in this particular instance, if we just wait them out, see what they’ve got to say, then eventually, they’re all going to go home.” In contrast, progressive and leftwing comments have called for aggressive action at the Malheur wildlife refuge. TV personality Montel Williams, who is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who served in the Marine Corps, has called for deadly force.
Twitter has exploded with posts contending that if the Oregon occupiers were black, the federal government’s response would be commensurately harsher. Stelter said if the current occupiers were “Black Lives Matter protesters or if these were peaceful Muslim Americans [then] they would be treated very differently by law enforcement.” In response, Roderick said “This is a very rural area,” Roderick replied. “It is out in the middle of nowhere. What are they actually doing? They’re not destroying property, they’re not looting anything.” The federal government has learned, said Roderick, how to manage situations like this. The FBI is currently leading the response to the situation at the wildlife refuge. For their part, the Hammonds have disavowed protest leader Ammon Bundy and accompanying protesters.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.