UPDATE (11:49 a.m. ET): Ammon Bundy, one of the armed men occupying an Oregon national wildlife refuge, told ABC News Monday that their protest is peaceful, but the group is armed “because we understand that in order to truly express our 1st Amendment rights, we have to have our 2nd Amendment rights.”
He added: “It’s important that we stand and people know that we’re serious,” Bundy said on Good Morning America.
Original (11:10 a.m. ET): After taking over a federal building in Oregon two days ago, armed protesters are refusing to leave until they get what they want. And now, the FBI has taken charge, saying it will work with local and state authorities to find “a peaceful resolution to the situation.”
“Due to safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved, we will not be releasing any specifics with regards to the law enforcement response,” the FBI said in a statement.
Federal authorities are collaborating with Harney County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police and other agencies in response to this situation, the latest in a fight over federal land use in the West, according to The Washington Post.
The incident began as a rally supporting two local ranchers convicted of arson–Dwight Hammond and his son Steven–led to a general anti-government protest, and now it has turned into the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building. The two ranchers are set to report to federal prison on Monday.
“We will be here as long as it takes,” a protest spokesman Ammon Bundy told CNN. “We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves.”
Bundy, 40, is the son of Cliven Bundy, a rancher from Nevada who staged a standoff with federal authorities in 2014. And like his dad, Bundy said he is standing up for land rights.
“This is about taking the correct stand without harming anybody to restore the land and resources to the people so people across the country can begin thriving again,” he said.
So how many people are inside the building? Well, the elder Bundy told a reporter in Oregon that “150 militia men” had occupied the federal land over the weekend, but at least one person who saw them leave for the refuge said there were “maybe a dozen” people inside, The Washington Post reports.
In Burns, a city 30 miles north of the refuge, hundreds rallied to support Hammonds during the weekend. Some residents were mad that angry peaceful demonstrations were covered up by the armed takeover.