USA: Burns, Oregon is a community under siege.

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UPDATE – 2030hrs GMT (UK):

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/01/27/1-dead-feds-arrest-oregon-protest-leader-ammon-bundy/79392112/

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Dear Mark,

Burns, Oregon is a community under siege.

Armed extremists from several states have flooded this small town and the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, heeding the battle call of the Bundy militia.

Locals have been traumatized by this armed occupation — residents live in fear of these gun-toting thugs, and community leaders, faced with death threats and vandalism, have sent their families out of town for safety.

I’ve been here for two weeks, and have seen Burns residents stand up bravely to these bullies and tell them to go home. But the militants only dig in deeper — and now they’re looking to export these kinds of armed standoffs to other communities across the West.

We can’t let that happen. The Center for Biological Diversity is in Oregon, organizing on-the-ground protests against the occupation and rallies in other towns in favor of keeping public lands public. We’re in a pitched fight — over not just the Malheur but the future of other public lands in the United States — against those who would rather see our natural heritage turned over to profiteers so it can be logged, mined, grazed and bulldozed.

You can help us take on the Bundys and their ilk with a contribution to the Center’s Public Lands Defense Fund. The situation took a troubling turn over the weekend, when it became clear the Bundy clan wants to sow more armed conflicts across the West. They’re pressing ranchers to stop paying federal grazing fees and, in exchange, the militia will meet attempts to enforce the law with the threat of violence. It’s clear the Bundys relish these conflicts, complete with closed schools, shuttered government services and terrorized civilians, not to mention the desecration of public lands, wildlife refuges and native sacred sites.

They’ve moved from the illegal seizure of the Malheur to coordinating an active terror network whose openly stated aim is to overthrow the federal government and steal our public lands.

There’s a bigger picture here: In Congress, Utah Republicans Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop, both heavily funded by the oil industry, have proposed to sacrifice millions of acres of our land to drilling and fracking. They want to twist our laws and do with the pen what the Bundys are attempting to do with the gun. If we don’t stop them, they can do far more damage than what’s happening in Oregon. We need your help at this critical moment to protect and save our public lands. Make a contribution to the Center’s Public Lands Defense Fund. We’ll put your donation to work opposing the takeover of our lands by armed extremists and their allies in Congress.

Author and Oregonian Ursula K. Le Guin recently wrote:

“Ammon Bundy and his bully boys aren’t trying to free federal lands, but to hold them hostage. I can’t go to the Malheur refuge now, though as a citizen of the United States, I own it and have the freedom of it. That’s what public land is: land that belongs to the public — me, you, every law-abiding American.”

For the wild,

Kierán Suckling

Executive Director

Center for Biological Diversity @KieranSuckling

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P.S. These scofflaws lack any respect for the natural and cultural heritage of sacred spaces like the Malheur. They’ve been pawing through artifacts belonging to the Burns Paiute Tribe and bulldozing a road through a fenced-off archaeological site. Ryan Bundy claimed a few days ago that American Indians had “lost their claim” to the land and that “the current culture is the most important.” It’s been inspiring to see the Burns Paiute leaders standing up to these bigoted bullies.

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