Kelly Gneiting, one of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has apparently issues a challenge to Governer Chris Christie (and I'm really hoping that this is as fake as the satirical story about the old birdwatcher pulling a high school wrestling move, but I'm afraid it's not).
With comments such as challenging Christie to fight "mano a mano" while "wearing diapers and slapping bellies just like when we were toddlers," Gneiting takes Christie to task for suggesting the Oregon "militia" disband and says if Christie wins one of 10 wrestling matches "the Oregon Occupation will disperse."
FBI STATEMENT ON MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SITUATION
The FBI recognizes that many in the community have questions about why we are here and our role in helping to end the occupation of the wildlife refuge. We are here to work closely with Sheriff Ward and our local, state and federal partners to protect the safety and welfare of this community. This occupation has caused tremendous disruption and hardship for the people of Harney County, and our response has been deliberate and measured as we seek a peaceful resolution.
Good news for Cafe Soriah fans: The famously tiny Mediterranean restaurant on 13th Avenue will expand into its neighboring space, allowing owner Ibrahim Hamide to accomodate more customers.
Hamide says that his neighboring business for 22 years, a dress shop, shut down last summer, and Hamide's brother-in-law purchased the building in late August.
"So now I have an extremely friendly landlord," Hamide jokes.
He says the restaurant has had to turn people away on weekends because Cafe Soriah doesn't have enough floor space to accomodate the flood of people interested in having dinner there. The expansion will help cushion some of the demand.
"I'm looking forward to it, and it should allow us to do a better job serving people," he says.
Ideally, Hamide says, the expansion will be finished by Valentine's Day, and construction starts this week.
From felons with guns to people harassing media and law enforcment, the Harney County Sheriff David Ward has had it with VanillaISIS and their occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
In today's press release, Ward details run-ins with the law the occupiers have had while in Eastern Oregon, as well as events surrounding the almost three-week standoff.
He wraps it up saying, "I then personally met with Ammon Bundy, who has proclaimed to be the leader of the occupation, on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to discuss a peaceful resolution. I asked Ammon and his group to leave, which he stated he would not do. From that point forward, the occupiers at the refuge have been considered by law enforcement (local, state and federal) to be criminals -- and they need to vacate the refuge.
It's clear at this point that the Bundy group does not have the interests of Harney County in mind -- they're in it for their own agenda. We will continue to work to keep you safe while they continue to not keep their word."
MESSAGE FROM SHERIFF WARD (TUESDAY, JAN. 19, 5:30 P.M.)
We continue to work with our law-enforcement partners to protect the Harney County community during the armed and unlawful occupation occurring at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Some events have occurred in the community involving criminals heading to or from the refuge. These are listed below:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 14 -- Oregon State Police (OSP) stopped a vehicle for a lighting violation. The driver -- Dwane Kirkland, of Hamilton, Montana -- was arrested on charges of Felon in Possession of a Firearm. He was in possession of a handgun and a rifle. The vehicle he was driving had switched plates and was uninsured.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 15 -- OSP arrested Kenneth Medenbach, of LaPine, at the Safeway in Burns. He was arrested on probable cause for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. OSP recovered two vehicles stolen from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during this encounter.
Occupants of the second vehicle fled the scene before police arrival. The Sheriff's Office is working to identify and arrest these suspects. If you have any information, please contact the sheriff's office with tips at 541-573-1362.
Every time a trespasser from the refuge operates a vehicle that belongs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they are committing a crime. We will not tolerate it when they come into our community driving stolen vehicles.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 17 -- OSP discovered a traffic crash on Greenhouse Lane near Highway 20. An investigation revealed the driver -- Darrow Burke, of Ukiah, California -- lost control on an icy corner and rolled. He was not injured, but was cited for no operator's license. Mr. Burke told OSP troopers he had been at the refuge for the past week.
Law enforcement has also had multiple contacts with non-Harney County citizens who claim they are in the community to act as intermediaries between the FBI and the trespassers. Many of these people are armed with handguns and assault rifles. These persons -- as well as the trespassers -- are wearing police/military-style body armor when contacting law enforcement. They continue to conduct surveillance on law enforcement and have harassed members of the media.
We will continue to work with our partners to keep Harney County safe while the FBI works toward a peaceful resolution at the refuge. Additional law enforcement resources have been moved towards locations to be poised to react to any situation that may occur. This includes notifying the hospital of more people in town and ensuring they have the capability to handle any medical emergency.
Today's events include:
- Today at noon, a "Rally for Malheur" was held in cities throughout Oregon, hosted by the Audubon society.
- Tonight at 7 p.m., Harney County is hosting its second Community Meeting in the Burns High School gym. We encourage the community to show up to hear the latest updates and make your voices heard.
The Bundy group continues to break its repeated promises to leave the refuge if the community asked them to do so. On Monday, January 4, the community did just that -- and the Bundy group failed to leave.
I then personally met with Ammon Bundy, who has proclaimed to be the leader of the occupation, on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to discuss a peaceful resolution. I asked Ammon and his group to leave, which he stated he would not do. From that point forward, the occupiers at the refuge have been considered by law enforcement (local, state and federal) to be criminals -- and they need to vacate the refuge.
It's clear at this point that the Bundy group does not have the interests of Harney County in mind -- they're in it for their own agenda. We will continue to work to keep you safe while they continue to not keep their word.
As Martin Luther King Jr., Day dawns, a couple of brothers from Eugene, Jake and Zach Klonoski remind Oregonians that it's not just a day off, but a day of action. The action they seek is against the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
We are often reminded that the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. honored today demands that we make this holiday a day of action and not simply enjoy a day off.
For Oregonians, this MLK Day carries with it a deep frustration. For sixteen days, the highest profile protest in the nation is on our soil, though it is not being conducted by Oregonians. Deep in southeastern Oregon, a small group of heavily armed, out-of-state militants have seized public land and buildings on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. An inheritance of every American, President Teddy Roosevelt set aside the Malheur NWR in 1908 “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” Three hundred twenty species of birds visit or live in the Malheur NWR, a treasure of the great Pacific Flyway that stretches from Alaska to Patagonia.
Most Oregonians have heard the militants demands that public lands be auctioned off and felt the shame of our state being mocked in national media as the occupation has stretched on with no end in sight. Admirably, law enforcement authorities have restrained themselves to avoid violence or injury – though clearly the law is being flouted and the local community does not support the occupation.
Still the specter of violence hangs over Oregon this MLK Day, and there is insufficient outlet for Oregonians to respond to the offensiveness of this illegal intrusion. This day more than any other demands action.
We find creative lessons for the situation in Harney County in a small southeastern German town, Wunseidel. There an annual neo-Nazi march glorifying the Third Reich regularly embarrassed the local community.
That year when the Neo-Nazis gathered, to their surprise their marching route was demarked meter-by-meter and the community came out to cheer them on. Local residents had organized and pledged donations for every meter the marchers preceded that would go to EXIT Germany, a group dedicated to supporting the safe exit of neo-Nazi from extremist groups. The YouTube video of the 2014 march-turned-Walk-a-thon is a thing of beauty.
We know the occupiers of the Malheur still have internet access, the tweets of the anti-government activists requesting snacks be mailed by US Post Office are infamous.
That connectivity opens a path for us all to teach these out-of-staters a lesson about Oregon. We invite you to visit www.GOHOMEmalheur.org where you will find information on the “Getting the Occupiers of the Historic Oregon Malheur NWR Evicted” campaign (G.O.H.O.M.E.). You can also add a per day campaign pledge of any amount that you choose, your donation will increase with each day that the occupation of the Malheur NWR continues.
At the end of the occupation the collected donations will be distributed between the four groups below, groups antithetical to the occupiers’ message of brute force and rage, as well as the privilege and narcissism inherent in their goals.
• Friends of Malheur NWR – a civic organization dedicated to the environmental and educational goals of the Malheur NWR, the Refuge’s upkeep and protection, and to promoting the NWR system;
• Americans for Responsible Action — a national political action group, founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre by former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, to advocate for common sense gun control and Second Amendment rights;
• Burns Paiute tribe – the original inhabitants of the Malheur region, dispossessed despite a 1868 treaty, the tribal leadership has eloquently given lie to the occupation’s claim to be fighting for the “rightful owners” of the Malheur.
• The Southern Poverty Law Center – a decades-old organization that monitors extremist groups around the United States and reports on their activities.
Each day the occupiers choose to continue their illegal occupation of our lands, they will be increasing funding of these groups. Their illegal occupation will be transformed into an occupy-a-thon, raising money that will assist in undoing any accomplishment they hope will emerge from their efforts.
Our fondest hope is that in a cold building in Harney County, an occupier will read this article, type in www.GOHOMEmalheur.org and witness the combined statement of thousands Oregonians, of tens of thousands of Americans, demonstrating the futility of what he is doing. Deflated, he will shoulder his weapon and peacefully depart our state —the threat of physical force defeated by our collective soul force.
If you would like to send your message, visit www.GOHOMEmalheur.org. The language to announce your pledge on social media is there to share far and wide. Make a pledge and honor this day of action, while demonstrating to the occupiers of the Malheur NWR how to act for change with discipline and dignity.
Deb Elder, aka DiveGirl Deb, of Eugene is active on both the local and national level to advocate for lyme disease education and better medical acknoledgment and treatment. She formed the Flippin Lyme Foundation after returning to Eugene from a protest in Washington, D.C. last May. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org