Three months after the nation’s media flooded Roseburg after the Umpqa Community College shooting, they are back for another story that is getting national attention: occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by members of a self-proclaimed citizen militia.
Bad news always leads the news, that’s a given. For a state the size of Oregon to have two major news stories within 100 days of each other is rare.
We expect cool heads to prevail in Malheur County and the occupation to end without violence or destruction. It is unlikely that there will be a Waco-like invasion by law enforcement; the most probable outcome is the militia members will slowly start to return home, regardless of their protestions that they’ll stay for months or years.
Ammon Bundy (of the Nevada Bundy family that perpetrated a stand-off at their ranch in 2014) came to Malheur County to support Dwight Hammond and his son Steve who were ordered back to prison to serve a longer term for a crime of which they were convicted.
Bundy was followed by others who came from around the country (primarily the west) citing Constitutional issues and federal government overreach in the rangelands of eastern Oregon.
Americans would be forgiven if, after the past three months, they have a jaundiced view of our state. Madmen shooting up a classroom, an armed group taking over a lonely outpost, what is going on over there in Oregon?
Every protest has its valid points. The militia in Harney County have good points about public lands managed by federal agenies and how they develop plans that impede the public’s use of those lands for their livelihoods.
Once a solution is fostered and this is behind us, all of us should concentrate on the things that would result in good news in the national media.