A local Oregon sheriff says the Bundy brothers and their fellow "militiamen" are not immune from prosecution.
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Harney County Sheriff David Ward on Monday asked Ammon Bundy and others who are illegally occupying a federal installation to "go home." On Tuesday, Ward said the lawbreakers will face federal charges from the FBI.
“The bureau has assured me that those at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will at some point face charges,” Ward told Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) today.
About twenty people on Saturday broke into and began an occupation of the federal installation, one that few people support. Even Fox News' Megyn Kelly was dismissive of Ammon Bundy in an interview Monday night.
OPB reports the FBI "is handling a criminal case against the armed men occupying the refuge since Saturday, and has told Ward that the men will face charges. The sheriff still believes a peaceful resolution to the conflict is possible."
Ward warned the militiamen, whose actions have caused the shutdown of the town's schools, courthouse, local businesses, and neighboring federal buildings, that the longer their occupation continues, the worse it will be for them.
“They have an opportunity right now to work towards a better solution, and not face further charges,” Ward said. The type or extent of charges is unknown.
He also warned of the impact the occupation is having on the local economy.
“If this goes on any longer, it will have an even greater impact on our tourism and local economy,” he said.
Sheriff Ward asked that any support the men are receiving be discontinued immediately.
“I think if one person gives them a Snickers bar, they’re going on national media and claiming that the community supports them,” he said. “If you’re giving them support, you’re just prolonging the situation.”
That warning includes the media.
“Further attention is what these folks are seeking. I think the more attention we give to them, the more rhetoric we’re going to hear, or the longer this might draw out.”
In a video recorded Monday, Sheriff Ward asked local residents to band together and "put up a united front."