The armed militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon will hold a community meeting Friday evening and inform residents when they will leave, reports The Oregonian. Spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum said he was relaying a message from Arizona businessman Ammon Bundy, the leader of the militants. The announcement comes a day after the militants destroyed a public fence at the refuge and county residents demanded at a community meeting that Bundy and his group leave.
Harney County residents, elected officials and law enforcement agents have repeatedly told Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, to leave, even though some locals are glad he’s brought attention to ranchers’ desire to use public land in the area as they please. The militants have said they will not leave until Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond – local ranchers who were sent back to federal prison for arson because of mandatory minimum sentencing rules – are freed. They have also said they won’t leave until the federal government hands over public land to local ranchers and loggers.