BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — The militia occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in protest of the sentencing of two Oregon ranchers said during a press conference on Thursday that they will announce their plans on Friday.
Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum said he will have more information about what the militia plans to do on Friday. Finicum did not give any further details about the “plan” but did request safe passage for his daughters to come visit him, asking the federal government to allow them to come to the refuge.
“This is intended to be a peaceful occupation,” Fincum said.
The group wants the federal government to hand over the wildlife refuge to local, county and state governments. Bundy and other group members claim wildlife refuges are not available for federal oversight.
Ammon Bundy, the group leader and son of Cliven Bundy, was not present at the press conference.
Community members on Wednesday gathered in protest of the militia, calling on them to leave.
Harney County Sheriff David Ward told hundreds of people at the gathering that the group needed to leave so local people could get back to their lives.
“You’re not invited to come here and bother with our citizens,” Sheriff Ward said. “I don’t believe that just a handful of people have the right to come in from outside of our area and tell us that we don’t know how to live our lives.”
Jon Ritzheimer, a gun ownership activist and a self-described extremist, told KOIN 6 News he was glad to see the community talking about their takeover of the national refuge.
“I’m really happy to see the community coming together and talking. It seems like it was kind of broken up, but I think this is an education process,” Ritzheimer said. “But there’s no rush. What’s the rush? I’m out here, willing to be away from my family. Yes, I want to get home, but there’s no rush to come in guns blazeing. Let’s talk about this, let’s get the truth out there and then let’s do what’s right.”
Ritzheimer confirmed Ammon Bundy was still at the refuge, despite talk he may return to Nevada.