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.
As humorous stories both true (people are sending them dildos) and satirical (old birdwatcher takes them out with a wrestling move) circle the internet, the brothers write that most Oregonians have "felt the shame of our state being mocked in national media as the occupation has stretched on with no end in sight."
The full press release is below.
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.
But as MLK reminded the nation in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
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.
The Klonoski brothers are the sons of Judge Ann Aiken. Aiken has taken criticism for being the judge who sentenced the Hammonds, the men who committed arson on federal lands, to the full five years the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that they be sentenced to.
Jake Klonoski told The Register-Guard that, "“We have not spoken to her about this, she doesn’t know what’s going on, and we have no intent to speak to her about this because it has nothing to do with her."