Oregon Standoff Ends In Arrests, Disappointment At Failure To Spark Revolution
Also, you wouldn't believe the amount of batshit around here.
Good news from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Thursday, as the last four militia loons occupying the refuge surrendered to FBI agents without violence. Three of the four surrendered as planned when Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and preacher Franklin Graham accompanied FBI agents onto the grounds. Then, for over an hour, the final holdout, David Fry, said he would not be taken alive and threatened to kill himself, before finally surrendering. And off he went to jail, along with Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson, and his wife, Sandy, none of whom were from Oregon. All will be charged, at a minimum, with federal conspiracy felonies.
[contextly_sidebar id="z0UpI7y3koNudh28hgIdiMb83KAMqHG7"]Yr Dok Zoom spent much of his "weekend" live-tweetering the bizarre livestreams -- Wednesday evening and Thursday morning -- of phone calls from the four would-be revolutionaries set up by pro-militia guy and Real Piece of Work Gavin Seim. At first, we were a tad skeptical that the remaining Liberty Campers had decided on Michele Fiore as their preferred negotiator, but darned if she didn't do a fine job of keeping the crazy to a minimum and actually talking them down off the ledge. It helped that she's a native speaker of American Wingnut, only this time she used her powers for good. And just possibly to help with her congressional campaign. Not that she'd dream of exploiting this madness.
The process of getting the last four into custody wasn't entirely smooth; they continued to insist they hadn't done anything wrong, and that they were only "campers" the feds couldn't have any reason to charge with anything. For quite a while Wednesday night, Sandy Anderson seemed to think Fiore could convince FBI to let the four walk out with their guns and a guarantee they'd never face charges, but reality eventually sank in and the four agreed to call it a day. Wednesday morning's surrender -- or as they all agreed to call it, a continuation of the struggle in the court system -- started out just fine, with only occasional hiccups, like when Sean Anderson saw a helicopter and freaked out, which wasn't helped by Fiore's reassurance that it was only for "medevac." Anderson immediately assumed that meant the FBI planned to shoot them all, but Fiore calmed him down, joking that it was only a precaution in case she had a heart attack. Then Sean Anderson fretted againwhen he saw a crow (in a bird sanctuary), assuming it was a portent of doom. Sandy Anderson chimed in that a "group of crows is a MURDER!" Again, Fiore reassured them that birds are only birds. Finally, out they came, first the Andersons, holding hands and carrying an American flag, followed by Banta.
At that point, David Fry announced he wasn't going anywhere, saying that if taking a stand meant anything, then he had to refuse to turn himself in and be a "slave." After all, the FBI was refusing to respect his First Amendment rights, since no one had contacted him to "redress" his "grievances." In his understanding of the First Amendment, you not only have the right to petition for redress of grievance, the government has to take you seriously and change things immediately, duh. And what a list of grievances it was! For starters, there was Fry's disgust at not being able to work a job without his tax dollars being spent to abort babies (which of course isn't happening), and also his anger at the use of drones in the middle east, which is at least actually happening, but not something the FBI was in a position to put an end to. He complained that he didn't have any weed, because voters in his home state of Ohio had voted against legalizing it, and how is that even FAIR? He said he was feeling "really confused" and eventually said he had a gun to his head, just waiting for a reason to blow his brains out.
[contextly_sidebar id="GPUD66OGzC3jxW7klUBLWUdn9mOUMS3P"]As the attempt to calm him down continued (not helped by the livestreamers quoting the Bible at him -- Fry was one of the few at the compound who wasn't a fundamentalist), even appeals to how much more valuable he'd be to the movement failed, as he said he no longer even cared about the movement because there is no more freedom anymore anywhere. As more than one person on Twitter noted, he sounded like a collection of every possible conspiracy theory from the internet rolled into one; eventually he proclaimed that the American people are stupid because they don't even know that UFOs are real and the government has been deliberately withholding the benefits of alien technology so that oil companies can continue to make profits, since they'd be bankrupted by the free energy the aliens brought us. Oh, and he also demanded the government stop "chemically mutating people," so we can assume he was a regular Alex Jones listener, too.
All the time, Fry was speaking with an FBI negotiator who must have at some point hit on something that changed his mind, because then he had a new, simpler demand: If everyone, even the FBI team who'd come into the compound, would say "Hallelujah," then he'd come out. It reminded us of something out of Philip Roth's 1958 story "The Conversion of the Jews" (no spoiler alerts, just read it. It's funny, mostly). Over the livestream, we could hear a chorus of "Hallelujah"s, Fry walked out, and just like that, the 41-day occupation was over, with David Fry somehow still alive. We're not sure it's possible to mount an insanity defense against conspiracy charges, but the medical consensus of Twitter was that he's certainly got some competency issues.
David Fry, Sean and Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta. They seem nice.
Now it's time to start cleaning up and restoring the wildlife refuge; FBI teams spent Friday searching the refuge's buildings for explosives (none found so far) and securing hazardous materials that were on the site prior to the takeover, and after that's done, the lab teams will sort through the site to collect evidence to be used in prosecuting the Moron Militia. In all, 23 people have been indicted so far on federal conspiracy charges, with other charges possible.
[contextly_sidebar id="tuAKgE6aulSDlgMb7jBowAsoiaaMcDER"]The ironies and paranoia also continue to pile up, too. Cliven Bundy, the rugged individualist who wants to be free of federal government tyranny, requested a court-appointed defense attorney Thursday, apparently unwilling to rely on his own deep well of Constitutional expertise that led him to decide the federal government can't own land, and therefore couldn't charge him grazing fees. But while he doesn't think the corrupt federal courts have any authority over him, he'll take a free lawyer, thanks.
The FBI is also feeling pretty pleased with its own strategy of patiently waiting out the Radical Bundymentalists, having learned a few things from earlier, more "kinetic" engagement with antigovernment groups: as long as nobody's being held hostage, there's a lot to be said for patience, gathering evidence, and letting the loons get a false sense of security before moving on their leadership, as federal agents and state police did on January 26. They're also happy to let the militia folks think they were infiltrated by a mole, as this NPR story details (jump to the 1:30 mark if you're impatient):
The former occupiers are convinced that Mark McConnell, who drove the Jeep carrying Ammon Bundy but was released after the rest of the people in the convoy were arrested, had to be cooperating with the feds, especially since he was among the first to deny that LaVoy Finicum was murdered by the FBI, an article of faith among the militia crowd. In a video posted to Facebook, McConnell said that he avoided charges by keeping his mouth shut:
"I've seen a thing now that I must be a fed or whatever. No," he said. "I'm just smarter than your average bear and a lot smarter than your average conspiracy theorist."
"Patriot" websites have been very busy accusing McConnell of being an FBI infiltrator. And even the night before the arrests, some of the more imaginative folks in the "movement" insisted the livestreams of the occupation's final hours were a federal plot, too, as Forbes reporter JJ MacNab documented:
Why, it's almost as if a bunch of paranoids with guns might not make the best core of a new government dedicated to Freedom and Liberty.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.