By KH & SS
Seeds: After years of disputes over land, on January 2nd, armed ranchers began to occupy Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The protests were led by Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher who incited protests over unpaid grazing fees on federal lands in 2013. These protesters marched in support of Dwight and Stephen Hammond, who were convicted of arson on federal lands. In early January 2016, a group of men decided the best way to address this issue would be to occupy federally-owned lands toting ginormous weapons, because as we all know, violence is always the answer. This sort of conflict is not new to America, arguments between ranchers and the federal government over restrictions on grazing and hunting have occurred over the past 100 years.
Core: Eleven of the protestors have been arrested, while four remain in the Wildlife Refuge. Those in custody state they will continue fighting in courts for what they believe is an infringement upon their constitutional rights. LaVoy Finicum, one of the lead protesters, was shot after he reached for a gun when avoiding the FBI and state police officers. Due to this event, the town of Burns, Oregon has suffered greatly. The town has not only been overwhelmed with media attention, but is also divided ethically. The protesters in custody have been denied bond, but the four that remain state they will not leave until their arrested brethren are pardoned.
Skin: The majority of Americans agree that the men should be punished according to the laws they have broken. However, some argue they are activists, while others state they are akin to domestic terrorists.
Leaves: This issue raises more than just questions about land rights. It also highlights issues of gun control and race relations, given that when African Americans marched peacefully this past summer in Ferguson, tear gas was thrown at them. However, in this case the protesters in Oregon were allowed to continue protesting unharmed for weeks.
Food for thought: Do you think the Oregon standoff was justified? What actions should the government have taken instead of simply leaving the men in Oregon to continue their protests? Are they terrorists or activists? Tell us what you think.
Think we missed something? Tell us in the comments.