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Final Occupier Refusing To Leave Oregon Wildlife Refuge

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Media wait at a checkpoint about 4 miles from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, Ore., as the sun rises on Thursday. The FBI had surrounded the last four protesters holed up at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and were waiting for them to surrender.i

Media wait at a checkpoint about 4 miles from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, Ore., as the sun rises on Thursday. The FBI had surrounded the last four protesters holed up at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and were waiting for them to surrender.

Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images


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Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images

Media wait at a checkpoint about 4 miles from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, Ore., as the sun rises on Thursday. The FBI had surrounded the last four protesters holed up at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and were waiting for them to surrender.

Media wait at a checkpoint about 4 miles from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, Ore., as the sun rises on Thursday. The FBI had surrounded the last four protesters holed up at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and were waiting for them to surrender.

Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images

Three of the last four occupiers at a wildlife refuge in Oregon have reportedly surrendered to the FBI, but the fourth is continuing an armed occupation that is stretching into its 41st day.

David Fry, Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson and Sandy Anderson were the last four militants remaining at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday morning. A group of armed anti-federalists took over the refuge in early January, saying they were protesting the convictions of two Oregon ranchers for arson.

Banta and the Andersons left their weapons behind and walked into FBI custody on Thursday morning, Fry said.

But Fry said he wouldn’t surrender. “I will die a free man,” he said in a phone call with political activist Gavin Seim that is being live-streamed online. During the call, Fry expressed suicidal thoughts and intentions.

Livestream Of Phone Call

WARNING: This situation is ongoing; the audio may include profanity and violent situations.

Fry said the government was refusing to listen to his grievances, which include the fact that he believes his tax dollars are funding abortions. At one point he said he had a gun to his head; at other times, he said he needed promises of protection, and a way to control how his tax dollars were spent, before he turned himself in.

“If they attack me, I have to defend myself,” Fry said. “I’m a man, I’m taking a stand. … A stand means you’re willing to risk your life.”

“Man wasn’t made to be put behind bars for standing up for his own rights,” he said later.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Fry was friends with LaVoy Finicum, the refuge occupier who was shot and killed by law enforcement at the end of January.

The Thursday morning surrender — which was supposed to include all four occupiers — was negotiated with the help of Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and evangelical leader Franklin Graham.

(You may know Fiore for her gun-centric family photos and calendars; The Washington Post has a profile. Rev. Franklin Graham is the son of televangelist Billy Graham.)

The deal was arranged in a series of calls that were livestreamed online Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with tens of thousands of people tuning in.

More On This Story

Protesters in Burns, Ore., march toward the home of Dwight Hammond Jr., a local rancher convicted of arson on federal land. The Jan. 2 protest was peaceful, but ended with a group of militiamen occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Burns Paiute Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Rodrique talks to reporters about the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Wednesday.

Residents Grant and Gaye Gunderson, part of the group of town residents who were waiting for the anti-federal, anti-FBI protesters at the courthouse in Harney County.

The armed individuals occupying part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon include Ryan Bundy. On Thursday, he had a gun and a tape measure on his side. Bundy is the son of Cliven Bundy, whose 2014 armed standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management in in Nevada drew national attention.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stand next to the outbuilding located near the Randy Weaver home near Naples, Idaho, in September 1992.

On the calls, Fiore expressed support for the occupiers but urged calm and called for peace. She also checked in to make sure the militants had eaten breakfast, had coffee and water, used the bathroom. “It could be a long day today,” she said early Thursday.

The occupiers repeatedly indicated they thought they might be killed by the FBI. At times, they indicated it would be the best thing that could happen for their cause. “Kill me. Get it over with,” Fry said on Wednesday night.

On Thursday morning, Fiore exhorted them to lead by example and said they needed to stay alive to tell their stories.

“A dead man can’t talk and a dead man can’t write,” Fiore said. “We have to stay together and stay alive.”

Fry described in the livestream how the other three occupiers left their guns behind and gave themselves up to the FBI. Once they had left, he said he had no intentions of following them.

Some people involved in the negotiation had been concerned the deal might not go through at all because Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was arrested Wednesday night. Bundy was originally planned to be present at the surrender, OPB’s John Sepulvado says.

Bundy was charged with conspiracy and assault on a federal officer over his 2014 standoff with federal agents at his Nevada ranch, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“Cliven Bundy was traveling to Oregon to raise support for his sons and four militants still holding out at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge when FBI agents arrested him at the Portland airport,” Sepulvado reported for our Newscast unit.

“Bundy’s daughter, Bailey Bundy, said her father was indicted on conspiracy charges,” Sepulvado says. “Before departing from Nevada, Cliven Bundy had called for supporters to come to Burns, Ore. He said in a statement, ‘Gather as many people as possible, and go now.’ “

But while supporters might be nearby, inside of the refuge, Fry appears to feel alone.

KrisAnne Hall, an activist on the call trying to persuade Fry to leave, told him the country is filled with people who share his goals.

“You’re not the only one that is fighting,” she said.

“Well, I’m the only one who’s still here,” Fry responded.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/11/466394039/listen-final-occupier-refusing-to-leave-oregon-wildlife-refuge?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=news



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