Sixteen of the armed militants who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early January are officially facing charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force. From The Oregonian:
The alleged offenses began Oct. 5, when two of the defendants met with the Harney County sheriff to warn of "extreme civil unrest'' if their demands were unmet, according to the indictments.
The alleged co-conspirators are charged with occupying the federal property "while using and carrying firearms,'' threatening violence against anybody who attempted to remove them from the refuge, and using social media and other means of communication to recruit and encourage others to join them.
The indictments also alleged the group carried firearms on the federal property and refused repeated federal orders to leave.
Those named in the indictment include those who’ve already been arrested: Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier, Joe O'Shaughnessy, Jon Ritzheimer, Shawna Cox, Pete Santilli, Jason Patrick, Dylan Anderson and Duane Leo Ehmer. The grand jury also announced the four remaining militants—David Fry, Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson and Jeff Banta—will face the same conspiracy charge when and if they leave the refuge. Kenneth Medenbach, who was arrested while driving a stolen federal vehicle into town for snacks, was also named in the indictment.
The indictments can be read in full here. Is this just the beginning of charges the militants will face? Seems likely. The FBI and local law enforcement will have to get into the refuge to assess the damage done to the federal property, including the federally protected Paiute Tribe’s sacred land, before moving forward with additional charges.
In addition to the indictments, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a bill that would require BOTH the federal government AND the militants to pick-up the multi-million dollar bill Oregon residents are expected to pay for the law enforcement operations. Blumenauer said:
“The state and local government shouldn’t have to pick up the tab…it’s not their fault…the feds need to reimburse and then go after the people who caused it,” he says.
It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. While only one of the indicted people (Duane Ehmer) is a resident of Oregon, many Oregon residents did provide support to the militants in the way of food and supplies for a long stay, as well as protests in favor of the armed militants.