Occupation of Malheur Refuge enters 8th day as more armed protestors join ranks

BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — A group called 3% of Idaho arrived at the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Saturday, shortly after a brief press conference was held by the militia.

More than a dozen vehicles pulled up, calling themselves ‘security considerations.’

Brandon Curtiss is the President of the Idaho Three Percenters.

“We’re here to establish a security buffer between the gentlemen here at the refuge, the community, citizens and law enforcement,” Curtiss said.

Shortly after their arrival, LaVoy Finicum, a member of the militia, made a statement.

“My concern is this, there are long guns here. We want the long guns put away. We want those put up. This thing is not to be threatening, this is to be peaceful.”The group left just a few hours later after delivering ‘articles of resolution’ to Bundy. The group also planned to deliver the articles to law enforcement but would not give a copy to KOIN 6 News. The group did meet with the FBI at the Burns Muncipal Airport and claims the talk was “positive.” An FBI officer was heard saying “You understand from our perspective, you can’t walk up and tell us how we’re going to do this. I agree it has to be a mutual thing.”

During the press conference, Finicum said the militia is going to get to work next week.

Finicum claims two ranching families came to them, saying they need help. He did not identify the families by name but said one family is about to lose their ranch and “we are going to help them save their ranch.”

The other family had their ranch fenced off by the federal government and they are going to help that family take the fence down.

“They came to us [for help],” said Finicum.

Finicum didn’t give a timeline on when they plan to leave, but he did say he was excited about the community meeting held Friday night.

“I heard it was tremendous. We’re here to pass the baton safely to Harney County.”

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward released a message to the community Saturday in the form of a You Tube video.

In the video, Ward thanks the community for the support, the food deliveries and the well wishes. He thanks the community for their patience.

“I think our community is going to have to work through some issues and work towards healing. And we can’t have healing in the community while we have members of the community that still have fear from the current situation,” said Ward in the video.

Finicum, Bundy, and armed protesters have been living at the refuge for a week, saying they will only leave when the land is returned to the people — its rightful owners.

The militia is also fighting on behalf of Steven and Dwight Hammond, two ranchers who were sent to federal prison for burning federal land.

Sheriff Ward has asked Bundy and his militia to leave. Bundy has declined that request.

Meanwhile, the US Flag that had been draped over the refuge welcome sign was replaced with a sign that read “Harney County Resource Center.”

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