On January 2, 2016, dozens of armed Americans ranchers calling themselves a militia stormed the federal land of Malheur Wildlife refuge. The reason for the outrage from these ranchers was because father and son ranchers had been arrested after twice setting fire to federal owned land. The first arson occurring in 2001 was to cover up illegal poaching of deer on the government owned property. The second arson in 2006 was stated as a defensive measure, protecting the ranch from wildfires that occur. The damage of these fires amounted to over $1 million, which is what the government is seeking in damages.
The reason this “militia” formed is because the ranchers were sentenced under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, twice. The law deals with terrorism, but also arson. The law created a five-year minimum sentence for arson on federal land. Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, the father and son ranchers, were first sentenced to a shorter sentence than five years. But then something rare happened, In October 2015, the Ninth Circuit imposed the mandatory five year sentencing. The ranchers are currently serving out their five years as of Monday, January 4, 2016. This resentencing is what brought these militants to rally on the 2nd of January 2016.
These militants; led by Ammon Bundy, are seizing federal buildings on federal land and claiming the land as theirs when it is government owned. The Hammonds are not seeking protection or fighting the case as well. The whole situation seems to be more about the issue of the Hammonds being sentenced as terrorists, and making sure the government does not own the land.
So far, there has been no federal action. Which is upsetting a lot of Americans. Many feel that if the militia were people of color, there would be some force of action taken. There have been hashtags and memes floating around on social media highlighting the discrepancy and favourable treatment of these militiamen like #YallQueda, #YeeHawd, #VanilliaISIS, #YokelHaram, #Infantada and so on. Many Americans have expressed their outrage with the fact that these white men are not having any action taken against them on social media as well.
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