Local News


Witness to Oregon occupation calls it a 'circus'

Posted at 7:40 AM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 10:40:48-05

The situation started Saturday after a peaceful protest to support the Hammond family. Armed militia men took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Hammonds are a father and son duo that were convicted in 2012 of setting fire to federal land.

"These people are wearing fatigues and openly carrying rifles and stuff like that," said Jorge Calzadilla, who drove all the way from Arizona to witness the event.

73-year-old Dwight Hammond and his 46-year-old son Steven were convicted of arson three years ago and served time. But a judge ruled that the father's three-month sentence and the son's one-year sentence were too short for a federal offense and ordered them back to prison, sparking the militia group to take over the federal building and to criticize the US government for a failed legal process.

"This is a circus, it's a circus. I think they learned from the Bundy Ranch," said Calzadilla.

Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is said to be among those organizing the takeover.  The other militia members are said to be from around the country. Many locals have told the outside groups to stay away.

"I ran into a couple of gentlemen and they asked me if I was associated with them and I said no, they started talking to me and they told me they're not happy about this. They are not happy about having these people here. They are outsiders; this is not their community," said Calzadilla.

Jorge Calzadilla says he is sympathetic to the militia’s cause, but believes they are doing it the wrong way.

"What they are doing is actually hurting their cause; the way they're going about this is disastrous, " he said.