BURNS — Members of a group from outside Oregon arrived on Friday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to “secure a perimeter” around the compound and prevent “a Waco-style situation.”
The arrival of the “3% of Idaho” was the latest development in the situation outside Burns, where an armed occupation of the refuge by an Ammon Bundy-led militant group entered its seventh day.
“They just keep an eye on everything that is going on” to make sure “nothing stupid happens,” Bundy said Friday afternoon outside refuge headquarters.
“If they weren’t here,” Bundy said, referring to the Idaho group, “I’d worry” about a Waco-style siege by federal officials.
The group’s website says it stands for “freedom, liberty and the Constitution. We will combat all those who are corrupt.” The website displays the motto, “When Tyranny Becomes Law, Rebellion Becomes Duty!”
Brandon Curtiss, the president of the 3% of Idaho, would not reveal in a phone interview how many people his group was sending, although a handful of them had already arrived at the bird sanctuary. Some had what appeared to be handguns on their hips. Curtiss said he was on his way to the refuge.
He also declined to reveal specifically whether the group would circle the refuge headquarters or form some other sort of perimeter.
Curtiss and Chris McIntire, another group spokesman, called the situation a “double-edged sword” – the perimeter is meant to protect the occupiers from an outside attack but also to protect the Harney County community from those who arrive in solidarity with Bundy’s cause but may be prone to violence, they said. The Idaho group is here to keep the situation “peaceful” and reassure the community that it isn’t in danger, they said.
McIntire said the majority of the group’s members would be heading for Eastern Oregon on Friday.
Curtiss and McIntire both emphasized that the perimeter would not be military or paramilitary in nature.
The group’s arrival came a few hours after Bundy informed reporters that the militants would not immediately accept Sheriff Dave Ward’s offer to peacefully escort the occupiers out of town.
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