After sons of rancher Cliven Bundy led armed militia members in occupying a federal building in Oregon in protest of a federal court ruling regarding two ranchers who were sentenced to jail time for arson on federal lands, at least one “Patriot” group is urging its members to “stay out of” the situation: The Oath Keepers.
The leader of the extremist Oath Keepers, one of the biggest players in the standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada, thinks that the Bundy brothers have gone too far. In a statement issued on New Year’s Day, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes said that although he’s sympathetic to Dwight and Steven Hammond, the ranchers convicted of arson, he wants no part in the Bundy sons’ takeover of a federal wildlife refuge because the Hammonds had not asked for help.
In a video statement, Rhodes said that the Oregon situation is “exactly the opposite of the Bundy ranch,” claiming that while militia groups “went to Bundy ranch to prevent that family from being Waco’d,” the current standoff is being “manufactured by potheads who want a fight” and is no longer a “peaceful protest.” He added that the Hammonds “were found guilty by a jury of their peers.”
“So, this is exactly the opposite of the Bundy ranch,” he said. “You have a situation where you have people who don’t want this and you have outsiders trying to force it on them. So I think we need to stay out of it. If it’s only a matter of peaceful protest, that’s fine, that’s good to go. But you cannot go there and force a confrontation with rifles in hand when the family does not want the assistance, so I think people should just stay the hell out of it, besides the peaceful protest, but that’s not what I see happening.”
Saying that Cliven Bundy’s son Ammon has “not been clear” on what he wants his allies to do, Rhodes stated, “Oath Keepers will not be involved in an armed standoffs that’s being manufactured by potheads who want a fight because this is going to be a bad fight, not a righteous, moral high ground fight. Stay out of it.”
The Oregon chapter of Oath Keepers was one of the groups that signed on to a “redress of grievances” on behalf of the Hammonds in December.