Anthony Noel is founder of the NPA and co-founder of the Greenville Guardian from which this article comes. He makes a good point here. The contrast in responses between armed white people taking over a federal facility and black people peacefully protesting at Ferguson and other places is stark and shocking. Below is his fine article.
This land is your land. This land is my land.
Unless, apparently, you’re Ammon Bundy or one of his rancher buddies, in which case all land is their land. Period.
As 2016 dawned, a small group of armed Americans (now calling itself “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom”) broke off from a larger protest, then broke into and “took over” an even smaller group of buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, hundreds of miles from anywhere in the frozen high desert of Oregon. The refuge was closed, the buildings locked up. In short, the place was deserted.
Now that, fellow patriots, is “Don’t Tread On Me” bravery at its utmost, don’t you think?
Bundy says he is protesting that most popular (and most murky) of the ultra-right’s boogeymen, “government overreach.” In this case, that translates roughly to, “We want to graze our livestock and hunt wherever we please, including federally owned lands, without paying grazing fees (in the case of the former) or being arrested (when we illegally do the latter). And we believe we should be able to do these things, even though there are laws preventing us and everybody else from doing them. Because… we say so.”
In short, ranchers with an overwrought sense of entitlement – and guns – are occupying federal buildings and implicitly threatening to violently “defend themselves” if any effort is made to remove them. There’s a longer version of the events that brought us to this place, but the foregoing pretty much sums it up.
News of this little action surfaced a few days ago, and yesterday came word that the FBI is now trying to figure out what to do about it. A strong case can be made that if everyone had simply ignored this incident of breaking and entering – occurring, as it did, in the middle of winter in the middle of nowhere – it would be over by now. But the media (the same media many of Bundy’s ilk so love complaining about) have granted Bundy his 15 minutes of fame, stoking fear about what might happen and whether it’ll wind up looking like Ruby Ridge or Waco.
Such fears are completely unfounded. The obvious solution is right in front of us. It is also simple, peaceful, and achieves for everyone involved their desired outcomes.
(1) Charge Bundy and his accomplices with criminal trespass, breaking and entering a federal facility, illegal occupation of a federal facility, making terroristic threats, and whatever else fits.
(2) Invite them to defend themselves at trial via Skype, from right there in the “compound” (as the media will inevitably take to calling it). If they refuse, no worries. Try them in absentia.
(3) Upon their conviction – a conviction that’s guaranteed, thanks to the admissions of guilt these oh-so-legally-adriot Citizens for Constitutional Freedom have already placed in the public record – erect a chain-link fence around the buildings with plenty of concertina and a few guard towers, and repurpose the complex as “Bundy Federal Prison.”
In short, give Bundy and his buds what they want: Fame, and long-term access to federal property. In spades.
Then, let’s see how many more “patriots” try the same thing.
Anthony Noel is a co-founder of the Greenville Guardian.