As the situation at the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon entered its third day, the occupiers appeared to be outnumbered by a few curious locals and a huge gaggle of journalists who swarmed this vast tract of sage-studded grassland, the Washington Post reports. Though an armed occupation was in progress, the snow around much of the headquarters in this remote federal wildlife refuge was untrampled and pristine. A refrigerator contained a handful of condiments and a single muffin. Two lonely sleeping bags were tucked in an out-of-the-way corner.
“Thank you for being here,” said Ammon Bundy, the Idaho rancher leading the occupation, at his regular 11 a.m. news conference. “I realize the role the media has in defending rights.” The takeover occurred late Saturday after a peaceful march in nearby Burns, Or., held in support of two ranchers — Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven — who had been convicted of arson on public land. Bundy is the son of Cliven Bundy, who led an armed standoff with federal agents over grazing rights in Nevada in 2014. Cliven Bundy calls his supporters “militiamen.” His son has dubbed his followers Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. He says the group wants to help people “in claiming their rights, using their rights as a free people.” For security reasons, Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum said he could not disclose how many people were staying at the refuge. He said most occupiers hid out when reporters came around.