With any controversial event, it’s usually safe to assume that the first accounts to reach the public are the least accurate. With enough time, the truth always rises to the top, and often stands in direct contrast to the initial version of events. What transpired yesterday between law enforcement and the leaders of the militia hunkered down in Malheur, is no exception.
The first sanitized reports arrived yesterday evening. Ammon Bundy and his brother, along with several other militia members and supporters, were on their way to a community meeting when the FBI and Oregon State Troopers pulled them over. They told the press that they were attempting to arrest the men, and one of their officers was forced to shot and kill LaVoy Finicum who had refused to surrender. Though reports vary, only a handful of shots were fired, which also led to the hospitalization of Ryan Bundy.
Now compare that with the account of Victoria Sharp, who was in the vehicle when this all transpired. According to her, there were two vehicles, and law enforcement was pre-positioned on the road before intercepting the group. Over a hundred rounds were fired at the first vehicle as its passengers tried to step out, but not the second vehicle, which contained Ammon Bundy.
Finicum tried to drive away but crashed into a snow bank. He then left the vehicle and approached the agents with his hands up saying “Just shoot me! Just shoot me!” which they obliged. He was shot 6 times as he stood, and another 3 times after he fell to the ground. After that, the vehicle was again “bombarded with bullets” and Ryan Bundy was shot in the arm as he sat in the truck.
Instead of leading with that account, the media has since cited the driver of the second vehicle, Mark McConnell, because his version of events mirrors the story provided by law enforcement. They completely ignore the fact that he has admitted that he didn’t really see anything and was 200 yards away from the first vehicle.
After the two vehicles were stopped, Finicum “took off” towards another roadblock, about a mile down the road, where he stalled in a snow bank, according to McConnell. While the federal agents were detaining militia leader Ammon Bundy and his bodyguard, Brian ‘Buddha’ Cavalier, Finicum got out of his truck and “charged” the roadblock.
“He went after them. He charged them,” McConnell said, citing the account of events given by Shawna Cox and Ryan Payne, both passengers in Finicum’s truck. It is unclear how he heard the accounts, however, since both Payne and Cox were detained by the authorities, while McConnell was let go.
His account could not be confirmed, but “several details matched accounts from law enforcement sources,” according to the Oregonian.
Regardless of what really happened, the situation at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge is still ongoing, though for how long is anyone’s guess. Shortly after Ammon Bundy was arrested, law enforcement surrounded the area and set up checkpoints in an effort to starve them out. Now the only people who will be allowed in are ranchers who own land in the area. In a recent press conference, a FBI spokesperson said that the remaining militiamen are “free to leave” the refuge.
Still, many of them seem intent on staying put until their grievances are addressed.
At the refuge Tuesday evening, occupier Jason Patrick reported no unusual activity. “It’s pretty quiet here,” Patrick said. He said no one was leaving as of 6 p.m.
Hours later, Patrick said the refuge remained quiet but “we’re all standing here ready to defend our peaceful resolution.” He wouldn’t elaborate.
However, there’s a good chance that the militia will start to dissipate over the next week, if not sooner. Ammon Bundy has just released a statement through his lawyer, urging the remaining protesters at the refuge to go home, and asked federal authorities to let the men leave without charges.
“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. … Please go home,” Bundy said in a statement read by his attorney, Michael Arnold, following a court hearing.
Jason Patrick, who remained at the refuge following Bundy’s arrest on Tuesday told Reuters by phone that some protesters were leaving on Wednesday afternoon through checkpoints set up by authorities, but rejected the word “surrender.”
“I don’t know what surrendering looks like,” Jason Patrick said. “They’re walking through the checkpoint and going home. That’s what I’ve heard unless I’m being lied to.”
Patrick added: “It’s getting emptier over time, some people leaving, some people still there holding onto what they’re holding onto.”
It appears that the situation is finally de-escalating, but it’s hard to say what the final holdouts will do. Some of the men seem determined to hang on no matter what. Will there be a showdown between themselves and law enforcement as many observers have feared, or will they too eventually call it quits, and go home to their families?
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .