Oregon ranching standoff ends

People wave American flags near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, near Burns, Ore. The last four armed occupiers of the national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon surrendered Thursday.


The final holdout in a nearly six-week armed occupation of a rural Oregon wildlife refuge surrendered Thursday, bringing an end to the dramatic showdown between anti-federal militants and FBI agents.

“No one was injured, and no shots were fired,” the FBI said in a statement after the last of four remaining holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was taken into custody.

The four militants were scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Portland on Friday.

An audio feed streamed from the occupation site captured an emotional — and largely profane — filibuster by the last reluctant militant, who gave up after hours of intense negotiations with federal agents and discussions with supporters over the telephone.

“I have to stand my ground. I will not go another day a slave to the system. I’m a free man, I will die a free man,” David Fry, a former dental technician from Ohio, screamed at one point.

“Unless my grievances are heard, I will not go out.”

Fry finally said he would surrender if everyone said “hallelujah.” When it appeared that people followed his request, Fry said, “Alrightly then,” and apparently emerged from the compound.

The protracted surrender efforts came hours after the arrest on the other end of the state of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose refusal to pay federal grazing fees led to an armed standoff with law enforcement two years ago.

Bundy had apparently traveled to Oregon to support his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, both of whom are now behind bars in Portland.

The FBI provided no details on Bundy’s arrest, but a Facebook page maintained by his supporters said he “was surrounded by SWAT and DETAINED” just after he landed at the Portland, Oregon, airport.

Bundy, 74, owes more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees that have accumulated over more than 20 years of illegally grazing cattle on federal property. In 2014, officers with the federal Bureau of Land Management who were trying to claim hundreds of his cattle were turned back by an armed group — and Bundy has continued to graze his cattle on federal land since then.

The standoff made Bundy a star among anti-federal militants. Some of the same people involved in the standoff in Nevada have been central players in Oregon.

The Oregonian newspaper said Bundy faces a charge of conspiracy to interfere with a federal officer — the same charge faced by his sons and others in the Oregon standoff. He also faces weapons charges.

The men and women at the refuge said they were protesting the prison sentences of two local ranchers found guilty of setting fires that spread to federal land, but their complaints expanded to a broad indictment of federal restrictions on cattle grazing, logging, mining and other land uses. The four holdouts were among 16 people who have been indicted on federal conspiracy charges related to the occupation, including Ammon Bundy, the principal leader of the takeover.

Bundy and several other occupation leaders were arrested during a traffic stop Jan. 26 on a remote stretch of highway north of the refuge. One of the leaders, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was killed by Oregon State Police during that stop.

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