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January 11, 2016 5

10 Mistakes Made By The Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupiers

On Jan­u­ary 2, a group of anti-government extremists—who would later dub them­selves Cit­i­zens for Con­sti­tu­tional Freedom—seized con­trol of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge head­quar­ters in remote south­east Ore­gon. The seizure, led by Ammon Bundy, son of a Nevada rancher who had him­self engaged in a stand­off with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in 2014, was osten­si­bly con­ducted to protest the resen­tenc­ing of a father and son pair of south­east Ore­gon ranch­ers, Dwight and Steven Ham­mond, on fed­eral arson charges.

For more than a week now, Bundy and his two dozen or so followers—the num­bers change daily—have held the head­quar­ters, claim­ing they will relin­quish it only when the Ham­monds are released and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment turns con­trol of fed­eral land over to the “people.”

Ammon Bundy

Ammon Bundy

Yet the con­fronta­tion desired by Bundy and his fol­low­ers has not gone very well for them so far. Faced with deri­sion, lack of sup­port, and inter­nal bick­er­ing, as well as the dis­tinct absence of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment they had sought to vis­i­bly con­front, the occu­piers now seem some­what con­fused and hes­i­tant. The sce­nario has so far not played out in a man­ner that they hoped for or expected.

While the sit­u­a­tion at Mal­heur is still tense and there are plenty of ways that it could worsen—for exam­ple, frus­trated extrem­ists could try to esca­late the situation—it is clear that Bundy and the other occu­piers have made sev­eral key mis­cal­cu­la­tions in their planned coup-de-main. These include:

  1. The occu­piers did not secure the sup­port of the Ham­monds. Though Ammon Bundy and some of the other future occu­piers were in touch with the Ham­monds over their plight as early as Novem­ber 2014, they failed in their efforts to get the Ham­monds to coop­er­ate.   Report­edly, the Ham­monds would not let pro­test­ers use their prop­erty, which may be one rea­son why Bundy and his com­pan­ions chose to seize the wildlife refuge head­quar­ters instead. After the seizure, attor­neys for the Ham­mond fam­ily released a state­ment say­ing that the Ham­monds “respect the rule of law.” Dwight and Steven Ham­mond reported for prison as ordered.
  2. The occu­piers chose a poor tar­get. The Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge is not far from the Ham­mond ranch. More­over, it was empty at the time, mean­ing that it was a sym­bolic fed­eral build­ing that could be seized by Bundy with­out effort. How­ever, the build­ing is in a remote area away from pop­u­la­tion cen­ters and also most extrem­ists. In tak­ing the head­quar­ters, the extrem­ists vol­un­tar­ily iso­lated them­selves. More­over, the build­ing is not impor­tant in any way, nor does its occu­pa­tion par­tic­u­larly hin­der the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, or even the wildlife of the refuge. And, of course, the build­ing has noth­ing to do with the Ham­monds, nor did seiz­ing it affect their sit­u­a­tion in any pos­i­tive way.  In their own para­noid fash­ion, even some of the extrem­ists even­tu­ally began to do some second-guessing about the deci­sion to seize the head­quar­ters. On Jan­u­ary 7, Joe O’Shaughnessy (at first an occu­pier, then stay­ing in Burns, Ore­gon, to orga­nize sup­port for them) posted to Face­book ask­ing if any­one had “stopped to think how did they get some of the great­est men in the Patriot move­ment to go out in the mid­dle of nowhere to [occupy] a small building…at the cold­est time of the year at a time [when] every­one is broke because of the hol­i­days. I don’t know about you but this is all start­ing to look fishy to me.” O’Shaughnessy spec­u­lated that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had delib­er­ately left the place empty and the elec­tric­ity on because “the place was already pre-bugged.” In other words, some­how the fed­eral gov­ern­ment “tricked” them into occu­py­ing the refuge headquarters.
  3. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment did not act as expected. It is likely that the occu­piers expected some new ver­sion of the 2014 Bundy stand­off, in which anti-government extrem­ists were able to engage in a direct armed con­fronta­tion with gov­ern­ment and law enforce­ment and get the gov­ern­ment to back down, thus ener­giz­ing the extrem­ists and their sup­port­ers. How­ever, because of the poor tar­get cho­sen by the occu­piers, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has time on its side. Bar­ring other cir­cum­stances inter­ven­ing, the gov­ern­ment can, in effect, bide its time and let attri­tion take its toll. Almost imme­di­ately, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment adopted a delib­er­ately low-key approach, employ­ing restraint and avoid­ing media atten­tion. It has not given the extrem­ists what they sought the most: a confrontation.
  4. The occu­piers failed to get local sup­port. Ammon Bundy and his fol­low­ers assumed that their action would get the sup­port of the peo­ple of Burns and the sur­round­ing area, many of whom were to vary­ing degrees sym­pa­thetic to the sit­u­a­tion of the Ham­monds. How­ever, the major­ity of the occu­piers were not from the local area—or even from Oregon—but were out­siders pri­mar­ily from Ari­zona, Utah, and Nevada. More­over, they seemed to be seek­ing atten­tion for them­selves as much as, if not more than, for the Ham­monds.  The local fire chief told an Ore­gon­ian reporter that the group “seems like a bunch of peo­ple ready to shoot. I don’t want that in my county.”  Bundy and sev­eral of his fol­low­ers also alien­ated some of the local cit­i­zens who orig­i­nally had been will­ing to work with them.  Locals who had helped orga­nize a pro-Hammond rally shortly before the seizure sub­se­quently issued a state­ment claim­ing that the activ­i­ties of the Bundy group were “unfor­tu­nate and not related to and con­trary to” their own wishes.
  5. The local sher­iff “failed” the occu­piers once again. For some years, Ammon Bundy and other mem­bers of his fam­ily have argued that it is the role of the county sher­iff to “pro­tect” the peo­ple from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and have repeat­edly called on local sher­iffs to inter­vene in con­flicts with the fed­eral government—without suc­cess. Har­ness County Sher­iff David Ward came out early as a vocal oppo­nent of Bundy and his actions (and whose fam­ily report­edly got death threats as a result). In fact, Ward helped to crys­tal­lize com­mu­nity oppo­si­tion to Bundy and his fol­low­ers in a key com­mu­nity meet­ing. Ward sub­se­quently met with Bundy to offer him “safe pas­sage” out of the county, in an attempt to end the stand­off, but Bundy refused.
  6. The occu­piers failed to get sub­stan­tial sup­port from other extrem­ists. Not only did the Cit­i­zens for Con­sti­tu­tional Free­dom fail to get sup­port from the Ham­monds, local law enforce­ment, or the local com­mu­nity, but they have so far failed to get sub­stan­tial sup­port from other right-wing extrem­ists, whether locally or fur­ther afield. While some anti-government extrem­ists have indeed sup­ported the actions of Bundy and the other occu­piers, such sup­port has been far less than the occu­piers clearly hoped for. Bundy had already burned bridges with the anti-government Oath Keep­ers thanks to feuds dur­ing and after the 2014 Bundy Ranch stand­off, so it was no sur­prise that the Oath Keep­ers did not sup­port the Ore­gon seizure. But many other anti-government extrem­ists also con­demned the actions of the Ore­gon occu­piers, on a vari­ety of grounds. Oth­ers stated that they dis­agreed with the “oper­a­tion,” though they would come to the aid of the occu­piers if they were attacked by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. One rea­son that many extrem­ists were less than excited about the refuge head­quar­ters occu­pa­tion was because it didn’t seem to be doing any­thing to help the Ham­monds but would sim­ply put extrem­ists in harm’s way.
  7. Media atten­tion did not always work to the occu­piers’ advan­tage. As in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff—at which a great many of the refuge occu­piers were present—Bundy and the oth­ers hoped to attract media atten­tion to their actions. That cer­tainly hap­pened, espe­cially in the early days of the stand­off, with media vans crowd­ing the grounds of the head­quar­ters. How­ever, while the media brought them atten­tion, it wasn’t always pos­i­tive atten­tion. Very early on, reporters on the scene brought down to earth claims by the occu­piers that they num­bered around 150, observ­ing that the true num­ber might be as lit­tle as one-tenth of that fig­ure. Reporters wan­dered around the refuge, seek­ing inter­views with any and all occupiers—and the extrem­ists did not always come out of the inter­views look­ing good. More­over, jour­nal­ists exposed the crim­i­nal his­to­ries of some of the occu­piers and, in the case of occu­pier Brian Cav­a­lier, revealed that his claims to have served in the United States Marine Corps were false. Cav­a­lier allegedly left the refuge soon after.
  8. Social media is a two-edged sword. Bundy and the other occu­piers did not rely solely on the tra­di­tional main­stream media. From the begin­ning, many of the occu­piers have assid­u­ously used Face­book, Twit­ter, and other social media sites to com­mu­ni­cate to their friends and fol­low­ers and get their mes­sage out. How­ever, as many cor­po­ra­tions and politi­cians have learned, social media mes­sag­ing some­times has a way of get­ting out of con­trol. In this case, non-extremists, who vastly out­num­bered the extrem­ists on social media, began to use the plat­forms to mock and deride the occu­piers, cre­at­ing hash­tags such as #Yal­lQaeda and #Vanil­laI­SIS. After a cou­ple of occu­piers entreated their sup­port­ers to send sup­plies such as food and “snacks,” the notion of snacks became a viral meme with which the occu­piers were mer­ci­lessly pil­lo­ried. “Will com­mit trea­son for Fun­yuns” was just one of hun­dreds of mock­ing “snack” references.
  9. The occu­piers have suf­fered from inter­nal bick­er­ing. Never par­tic­u­larly orga­nized to begin with, the occu­piers have not showed any real cohe­sive­ness.   As time has worn on, dif­fer­ent occu­piers have argued and bick­ered over a vari­ety of issues, rang­ing from tac­tics to the pres­ence of women and chil­dren at the refuge. At least one of the occu­piers left the refuge as a result. The odds of such bick­er­ing are likely to increase with time.
  10. The occu­piers have no prac­ti­cal end game. As the one-sided stand­off wears on, time is likely to take its toll on more and more occu­piers. Some have already left, tem­porar­ily or per­ma­nently, to deal with “real life” issues such as work and fam­ily.  Because the fed­eral gov­ern­ment seems hardly likely to release the Ham­monds based on the demands of Bundy and his fol­low­ers, and because it cer­tainly will never engage in some sort of mass give­away of fed­eral land, the occu­piers are unlikely to get any sort of sat­is­fac­tion from the gov­ern­ment. And though a cou­ple of the most volatile occu­piers have given indi­ca­tions that they would wel­come some sort of armed encounter with the gov­ern­ment, oth­ers seem to have become more wary as the stand­off has pro­gressed. The pos­si­bil­ity that the occu­piers, espe­cially if more attri­tion occurs, will attempt to come up with some sort of face-saving ratio­nal­iza­tion for stand­ing down seems like a real pos­si­bil­ity. As long as cooler heads pre­vail, it may be the best oppor­tu­nity for end­ing the stand­off with no one being hurt and no “mar­tyrs” or “heroes” cre­ated, around whom other extrem­ists could rally.



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March 23, 2015 1

New FBI Hate Crime Training Manual Published

This week the FBI pub­lished an updated hate crime train­ing man­ual. The excel­lent new guide is the sin­gle most impor­tant, most inclu­sive hate crime train­ing resource avail­able for law enforce­ment officials

DOJ sealThis ver­sion of the Bureau’s Hate Crime Data Col­lec­tion Guide­lines and Train­ing Man­ual  includes new def­i­n­i­tions, train­ing sce­nar­ios, and a spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tions sec­tion to help police offi­cials effec­tively iden­tify and report the new cat­e­gories of crime man­dated for col­lec­tion for 2015 – includ­ing hate crimes directed at Arabs, Sikhs and Hin­dus. The first edi­tion of the man­ual, pub­lished in early 2013, included guid­ance on how to define and iden­tify gen­der and gen­der iden­tity hate crimes, based on require­ments set forth in the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act(HCPA).

The FBI has been track­ing and doc­u­ment­ing hate crimes reported from fed­eral, state, and local law enforce­ment offi­cials since 1991 under the Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act of 1990 (HCSA). The Bureau’s annual HCSA reports pro­vide the best sin­gle national snap­shot of bias-motivated crim­i­nal activ­ity in the United States. The Act has also proven to be a pow­er­ful mech­a­nism to con­front vio­lent big­otry, increas­ing pub­lic aware­ness of the prob­lem and spark­ing improve­ments in the local response of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to hate vio­lence – since in order to effec­tively report hate crimes, police offi­cials must be trained to iden­tify and respond to them.

Although the newest data from the 2013 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act report showed hate crimes have been declin­ing, the num­bers are still dis­turbingly high.  The addi­tion of anti-Arab, anti-Sikh, and anti-Hindu hate crimes for 2015 demon­strates the Bureau’s com­mit­ment to pre­vent­ing and coun­ter­act­ing these crimes.  After the tragic mur­der of six Sikh wor­ship­pers in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin in 2012, col­lect­ing data on Arab, Sikh, and Hindu vic­tims of hate crimes became even more urgent. This updated FBI hate crime train­ing man­ual is a cru­cial step in the work to address these crimes.

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October 15, 2014 0

The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act: Five Years Later

The Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA), enacted into law on Octo­ber 28, 2009, is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive fed­eral hate crime enforce­ment law passed in the past 40 years.Matthew_Shepard_and_James_Byrd,_Jr._Hate_Crimes_Prevention_Act

The HCPA encour­ages part­ner­ships between state and fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials to more effec­tively address hate vio­lence, and pro­vides expanded author­ity for fed­eral hate crime inves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions when local author­i­ties are unwill­ing or unable to act.  Impor­tantly, the HCPA adds sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der, gen­der iden­tity and dis­abil­ity to the groups which pre­vi­ously had fed­eral pro­tec­tion against hate crimes – race, color, reli­gion and national origin.

For more than a dozen years, the Anti-Defamation League led a broad coali­tion of civil rights, reli­gious, edu­ca­tional, pro­fes­sional, law enforce­ment, and civic orga­ni­za­tions advo­cat­ing for the HCPA. The leg­is­la­tion was stalled by fierce oppo­si­tion from some con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions — and, for eight years, by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush — in large part because it pro­vided new author­ity for the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute cases in which mem­bers of LGBT com­mu­ni­ties were tar­geted for vio­lence.  Ener­getic sup­port by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder, Jr.  was essen­tial to achiev­ing final pas­sage of the measure.

The HCPA has proven to be a valu­able tool for fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors.  The Depart­ment of Jus­tice has brought more than two dozen cases over the past five years – and has suc­cess­fully defended the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the Act against sev­eral con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenges.

Enact­ment of the HCPA also sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources, includ­ing an updated Hate Crime Model Pol­icy pre­pared by the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police.

Yet, much work remains to be done.  Hate crimes remain a seri­ous national prob­lem. In 2012 (accord­ing to the most recent data avail­able) the FBI doc­u­mented more than 6,500 hate crimes – almost one every hour of every day. The most fre­quent were moti­vated by race, fol­lowed by reli­gion and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.  Of the crime moti­vated by reli­gion, more than 60 per­cent tar­geted Jews or Jew­ish institutions.

Unfor­tu­nately, more than 90 cities with pop­u­la­tions over 100,000 either did not par­tic­i­pate in the FBI 2012 data col­lec­tion pro­gram or affir­ma­tively reported zero (0) hate crimes. That is unac­cept­able. As FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey said in remarks to the 2014 ADL Lead­er­ship Sum­mit, “We must con­tinue to impress upon our state and local coun­ter­parts in every juris­dic­tion the need to track and report hate crime. It is not some­thing we can ignore or sweep under the rug.”

The fifth anniver­sary of the HCPA pro­vides an impor­tant teach­able moment.  It is a fit­ting occa­sion for advo­cates, the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion, and Con­gress to pro­mote aware­ness of the HCPA, to report on the progress our nation has made in pre­vent­ing hate vio­lence, and to reded­i­cate our­selves to effec­tively respond­ing to bias crimes when they occur.

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