This weekend, led by three sons of Nevada rancher Clive Bundy, armed anti-government militiamen took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge HQ in Harney County Oregon, calling for “American patriots” to join them. Just how many men are involved remains unknown given conflicting reports from the militiamen, who claim there as many as 150 of them, while some news outlets are reporting that it’s actually between 6-15.
This “occupation” of this federal building took place after 300 people in town protested the recent arrest and pending imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammond, Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, who were found guilty of setting fires to federal land,” writes RT.com. The Bundy boys and their supporters believe that the federal government is overstepping their legal reach and “have no authority in local cases” like these.
A federal judge sentenced the men to five years in jail, which would begin on Monday.
This tension between ranchers and the federal government is not a new one and seems to only be escalating over time. “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely…This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute,” Ammon Bundy told Oregon Live.
And they are “willing to kill” if the government tries to remove them from the building.
I talked to Ryan Bundy on the phone again. He said they're willing to kill and be killed if necessary. #OregonUnderAttack
Despite their supporters, the local government is very concerned, closing down schools for the rest of the week in the area. And who can blame them? This is a real threat of domestic terrorism, but where was the initial national news coverage of what was happening?
Not a single cable network is covering this Oregon militia situation
And yet when news outlets such as the Associated Press and ABC News began covering the story, they released articles with headlines calling the hostile takeover as a “peaceful protest, Think Progress pointed out. This swiftly prompted Twitter to call out this media mishap.
Accusations of racial double standards also came into play when people began asking why the National Guard are always called in for unarmed protests in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore, but not in Oregon, Al Jazeera noted.
Did I miss the call for the national guard in Oregon? I recall them in Ferguson and Baltimore. #OregonUnderAttack
Most important, folks highlighted–again–how radially different people of color are portrayed in the media, even when they are innocent, compared to whites criminals like Dylan Roof, who are given empathy and labeled “misunderstood.”