If you happen to be sitting in a cyber cafe in Brooklyn, it's hard to believe that what's happening in rural Oregon isn't, like, a trailer to a really good indie flick at Sundance. But it's not. It's the reality of a divided, radicalized America where armed fanatics decide to grab what they want, or else.
An AP story reads, "Armed protesters at Malheur wildlife refuge pore over government documents," reporting on the occupation by Ammon Bundy and his followers of federally owned property. The subtext reads, radical bullies with guns.
We are witnessing a dangerous intersection between too many guns sloshing around in the nation, and a toxic, virulent antifederalism.
In response, local groups across Oregon, who support national protection for wildlife refuges and open spaces, are organizing protests. Take note: a lot of the protesters are women.
"Great Old Broads for Wilderness" Mount Protest
And the details alone read like fiction: the local chapter of a group called Great Old Broads for Wilderness, as well as local environmental groups, are calling this armed militia is to "get out, go home, and give the public back its wildlife refuge."
If you happen to be near Bend Oregon on January 15, 2016 go to Crow's Feet Commons on the Deschutes River, promptly at "high noon." Speakers will include Julie Weikel, a local resident who worked with ranchers in the area to develop what became an award-winning comprehensive plan for conserving the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The protest organizers, a coalition of environmental organizations, very sanely say that public lands are just that -- public. They belong to the national heritage for all to use and enjoy. "These laws," they state, "should be evaluated through a democratic process, not through bullying, intimidation and armed anarchy."
It's not just a local Oregon matter. This kind of armed bullying sets a bad precedent. It can happen elsewhere. So while it might take about eleven hours to get to this Bend protest in person, there are things you can do, from wherever you are. Tweet. Blog. Get on the phone or write a letter to your Congressman demanding that public lands stay just that -- public -- and that federal limits be placed on firearm ownership.