This week, as far-right groups are celebrating the first anniversary of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over his refusal to pay years’ worth of grazing fees, the anti-government group Oath Keepers is getting involved in another dispute with the BLM, this time in Oregon.
The Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon, reports that members of the Oath Keepers are gathering in southwest Oregon to prevent the BLM from temporarily shutting down operations of a mine that is violating federal regulations, claiming that the BLM’s actions are “unconstitutional.”
A group of armed volunteers has descended on rural Josephine County in defense of a mining claim that’s become the subject of regulatory action by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The federal agency says the Sugar Pine Mine, near Merlin, has been operating outside current mining laws and regulations, and the BLM recently ordered the claim’s owners to cease operations until they file a plan of operations.
In response, the local chapter of the Oath Keepers, a group of former and current military and law enforcement personnel who’ve pledged to disobey any “unconstitutional” orders, says it was asked to defend the property from any encroachment by federal authorities.
Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the local Oath Keepers chapter, told the paper that she doesn’t want what’s going on in Merlin referred to as a “standoff” and that it has nothing to do with the Bundy anniversary:
She says the group doesn’t want its security operation referred to as a “standoff,” and says the event’s timing coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Bundy’s showdown with BLM agents was unintentional. “There’s absolutely no relationship to that,” she says.
But some of the national activists streaming to Oregon (Emerick says she’s “been contacted by people from Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, all parts of Oregon”) seem to see it differently. An article on the national Oath Keepers website promises a “brewing fight,” referring to it as a “potential standoff,” as does a piece in the popular far-right outlet Infowars and another on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.
The private mining consortium that includes the disputed mine is also promising to “do battle” with the BLM, posting a manifesto on its website that the non-standoff “presents what is probably a once-in-a-generation prime opportunity to strike at the heart of the very surface management authority of the DOI and USDA.”
Where is this all headed?
This case is headed in a direction that presents what is probably a once-in-a-generation prime opportunity to strike at the heart of the very surface management authority of the DOI and USDA and to restore the “as patent” rights of every mining claim owner in the United States by striking down the actual source of that intrusive authority.
Regardless, we intend to take BLM fully to task and will not feel sorry for any civil or criminal consequences that may be leveled upon any BLM employees who are found to be negligent of wrong doing. We are actively pursuing these individuals through a wide range of tactics with the intent to reign in these wrong doers.
Meanwhile, the BLM says it’s just asking for the Sugar Pine Mine to submit a “plan of operations” for the mine or appeal the decision. The local sheriff — viewed by many in the militia movement as the ultimate law enforcement authority in the country — says he’s trying to mediate the conflict.