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February 2, 2016

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum: The Making of a Martyr

On January 26, 2016, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the anti-government extremists involved in the January 2 armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters near Burns, Oregon, was fatally wounded by Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers during an attempt by the OSP and the FBI to arrest Finicum and a number of key occupiers.

Helicopter footage of shooting of "LaVoy" Finicum (middle) as he seems to reach for a weapon.

Helicopter footage of shooting of “LaVoy” Finicum (middle) as he seems to reach for a weapon.

Finicum, along with occupation leader Ammon Bundy and others, were traveling in two vehicles to attend a community meeting in John Day, Oregon, where they hoped to find support for their armed seizure. Seeing an opportunity to apprehend most of the takeover leaders away from the refuge and its many armed extremists, the FBI and the OSP organized a traffic stop with roadblocks along the rural road to John Day. One of the two vehicles stopped and its occupants were removed peacefully.

The other vehicle, driven by Finicum, fled the traffic stop, only to encounter a roadblock a short distance away. Perhaps attempting to evade the roadblock, Finicum drove his vehicle into a snowbank, narrowly missing the police vehicles and an officer.

While other occupants stayed in the vehicle—possibly trapped by the snowbank—Finicum rushed out into the snow. Video footage shot from a helicopter shows a trooper approaching Finicum with the trooper’s weapon drawn. Though Finicum had emerged from the vehicle with his hands partially raised, upon seeing the trooper he appears to have reached for something under his jacket (authorities later confirmed he had a firearm). A second trooper emerged from the woods behind Finicum, which Finicum seems to have heard, because he turned around and once more reached into his jacket. Upon seeing this motion, the second trooper fired shots at Finicum, killing him. Ryan Bundy, another vehicle occupant, suffered a minor gunshot wound, apparently from a stray bullet.

 

Manufacturing a Folk Hero

The decision by federal and state authorities to make the arrest attempt was in some respects a risky one, not only because officers could be wounded or killed by extremists, but also because the wounding or death of any of the occupiers could have negative consequences in terms of enraging the extreme right and possibly prompting acts of violence.

The arrests did disrupt and demoralize the Malheur occupiers, most of whom soon left the refuge, while a few others were arrested. As of this writing, only four holdouts at the refuge remain, primarily because there is a federal charge against one of them that they want dropped before they will surrender.

However, the death of Finicum unfortunately provided adherents of the so-called “Patriot” movement (which includes militia groups, sovereign citizens, and other anti-government extremists) with something that authorities had hoped to avoid: a potential martyr around whom anti-government extremists could rally. Moreover, anger over Finicum’s death could possibly spawn acts of violent retribution. Rage over deadly standoffs between fringe groups and individuals at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and Waco, Texas, in 1993 played a major role in sparking the resurgence of right-wing extremism in the mid-1990s that led to the Oklahoma City bombing and many other acts of violence or attempted violence.

Upon learning of Finicum’s death, “Patriot” movement adherents immediately claimed that he was murdered, though initial accounts from other occupants of the vehicles were confused and contradictory. The FBI publicly released the helicopter video rather quickly—in a clear attempt to quell rumors about the shooting—and, to most viewers, the shooting is likely to appear to have been justified. However, anti-government extremists watching the video have perceived largely what they wanted to see on it and have interpreted the video as still more evidence that Finicum was murdered. Extremists have widely shared the video, which is typically described as proof of Finicum’s “ambush and murder.”

Even before the video was released, the process of turning Finicum into a martyr had already begun. As news of his death spread, extremists on social media created a wide array of graphic memes proclaiming Finicum a martyred hero. One self-declared “liberty speaker” from Washington state, Gavin Seim, uploaded a short video about Finicum titled “The Edge of Revolution.” In the video, Seim describes Finicum as “one of the finest patriots that America could hope to have,” who showed people “what it was like to be a founding father.” Seim urged viewers to “rise for liberty,” claiming that “we can no longer allow the government to murder and abuse and terrorize…These criminals spilled blood yesterday.” Within two days, Seim’s video had received over 110,000 views.

Similarly, musician Jordan Page posted his own video, widely shared on social media, singing a song of his own composition, “The Ballad of LaVoy Finicum,” intended to make a folk hero out of the anti-government occupier:

He left his home to go and take a stand
His voice rang out across a deafened land
And in the end it was a bullet that exposed the lies
A truth remembered is a battle won
And though his murder cannot be undone,
It rings out like an echo, thundering across the night

Page’s song was the most popular of several songs related to Finicum’s shooting that have appeared on YouTube or elsewhere.

One ostensible Finicum supporter is using a t-shirt website to sell “LaVoy Finicum Memorial” t-shirts for $21.99, with proceeds promised to go to the Finicum family—just one of the websites now selling Finicum t-shirts and sweatshirts. Another supporter announced the auction of a framed print of a painting—starting bid, $2,500—with the proceeds allegedly going “to the Bundy Ranch and/or a fund for Levon [sic] Finicum memorial.”

 

Channelling Anger: Rallies, Protests, Memorials and Vigils

As quickly as news of Finicum’s death spread, supporters of the Malheur takeover began to organize events—rallies, protests, vigils, and memorials—centered on the dead occupier and designed to raise sorrow and anger over his death. As early as the day after the shooting, occupier supporters (and, allegedly, some former occupiers) held a small “candlelight vigil” in Burns, Oregon.

In southwestern Utah, Finicum’s home, supporters organized a memorial for him in front of the Iron County courthouse. The event seems to have included at least one former occupier in attendance, but its centerpiece was Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller, who called the death of Finicum a “travesty” and hoped “the truth” would come out. Other regional events, including one for the Paiute County courthouse, were allegedly also held.

In Phoenix, Finicum supporters Israel Torres and Blanka Nieves, who had previously held support rallies for the Oregon occupiers, organized a “We Are LaVoy” rally on January 29 at Wesley Bolin Plaza, with around 30 or so attendees. Another protest was allegedly organized in Portland, Oregon.

Las Vegas, Nevada, saw a handful of Tea Party activists and anti-government extremists led by Karen Steelmon and Greg Whalen (the latter of whom was in telephone contact with the remaining occupiers in Oregon) organize their own impromptu demonstration in front of the federal courthouse soon after the shooting. They declared that Finicum, who had “been defending American soil from a tyrannical government,” was ambushed and murdered by the FBI. The pair also organized a second Las Vegas courthouse rally on the weekend following the shooting; 12-15 people seem to have participated in that event.

Other events also occurred on the weekend of January 30-31. The one most covered by the media occurred in the long-suffering town of Burns itself, where the anti-government Pacific Patriots Network organized a “rolling” protest of vehicles through the town; estimates of the number of protesters ranged from 50 to over 100. With another rally organized by Idaho Three Percenters at the Harney County Courthouse in Burns for February 1, it is clear that Burns’ ordeal is not likely to end soon. Both of these groups declined to support the Malheur occupiers’ earlier actions but have jumped into the conflict with the death of Finicum. Others traveled out to the location where Finicum was shot and erected a makeshift memorial.

Protests and rallies occurred outside Oregon as well. Heather Lucas and Mike Kay organized a Finicum protest at the FBI office in Columbus, Ohio, with around 45-50 attending from right-wing groups and Anonymous. “Revolution starts here,” said one speaker, “Make no mistake.”

Elsewhere in Ohio, a handful of activists in Lima, Ohio, hung signs and protested on a freeway overpass on I-75. One protester posted on Facebook after the event that the federal government let “rioters burn, loot and assault in Ferguson and Baltimore but when a patriot stands up peaceful [sic] for his constitutional rights he is gunned down by the federal government.”

A similar overpass protest occurred on January 30 across the country in Salem, Oregon, with about 10 protesters. Both were apparently organized by activists with right-wing group “Overpasses for America.” More such overpass protests are scheduled for the first weekend in February in Oregon and elsewhere.

That weekend, the weekend of February 5-7, is when a number of additional events will be held. Of these, the most significant is the memorial service for Finicum in Kanab, Utah, organized by his family, who turned it into a political event by reaching out and announcing it to “Patriot” and right-wing groups to get their attendance. Karen Steelmon, the Las Vegas Tea Party figure mentioned above, announced she was organizing a “procession” of people from the Las Vegas area to “pay respects” at the memorial service. Utahn and former Malheur occupier Wes Kjar has declared he will organize a “memorial horse ride” to the service.

For those too far from Kanab, Finicum supporters have organized the “National Memorial & Prayer Vigil for LaVoy Finicum,” for which they urge people to gather in front of “your local courthouse” on February 5 or the following day.

Other events known to be planned for the weekend include:

  • The Liberty for All III% have announced a “Cowboy’s Last Ride” protest in Olympia, Washington, for the weekend of February 5-7, declaring that they “will never allow one more innocent person to die at the hands of the Government.”
  • In Boise, Idaho, someone calling himself “1776Revolutionist” is organizing the “RIP Lavoy Rally” at the Boise capitol building; attendees are requested to bring “Hands up, don’t shoot” signs.
  • In John Day, Oregon, the town to which Finicum was driving when his vehicle was stopped, Raelene Hunt-Reed and Tyson Baker are organizing a candlelight service for Finicum.
  • Hunt-Reed and Brian Winters have also scheduled a “candlelight memorial” for Finicum at the Crook County courthouse in Prineville, Oregon. This would be the second rally for Prineville; others organized a February 1 “Memory of LaVoy Finicum and All Our Patriots” rally at the courthouse.
  • Arizona activists are organizing a Finicum candlelight vigil at Mesa RiverView Park on February 6, allegedly with “guest speaker Alexander Melusky.” Melusky is running for Senate in Arizona; it is not known if he is actually appearing at this event.
  • Kentucky Three Percenter George Al Collins has announced a “rally and memorial service in remembrance of LaVoy Finicum” at the capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky, on February 6.
  • John Adams is organizing a candlelight vigil for Finicum at the West Virginia capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia, on February 6.
  • Krista Etter of West Palm Beach, Florida, is arranging a rally at the federal courthouse on February 6.
  • Northeast Ohio Three Percenters are allegedly planning an event on February 7 in front of the FBI building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
  • In Ruckersville, Virginia, Michael Madden, the owner of The Confederate Keepers Store, has scheduled a “Rally/Protest of the MURDER of LaVoy Finicum” for February 7, with the location oddly being a convenience store.
  • Colorado anti-government extremists are organizing a February 7 protest dubbed “#WAKETHEDEAD” in front of the FBI office.
  • Steve Baldassari and Scott Henry have announced a rally at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on February 6 “to fight for our rights, defend the Oregon ranchers, but also to honor LaVoy Jeanette Finicum, a true patriot.”
  • South Carolina Three Percenters are allegedly organizing a “VIGIL AND A SHOT FOR FREEDOM MEET” on February 6 somewhere in South Carolina. It is not clear if this is related to a “LaVoy Finicum Tribute and Prayer Meeting” being organized by Bob Hargrove for the Huger Recreation Area at the Francis Marion National Forest on February 6.

Rallies and protests even further in the future are also scheduled—likely to be merely the first of many. These include:

  • Arkansan Madonna Carter is organizing a rally in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the state capitol, for February 13.
  • A “We the People” rally was organized for February 13 in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio State House, even before Finicum’s death. Now attendance is likely to be even higher.
  • A “Lavoy Finicum Free the Bundys and Hammons March” in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on March 5 to “honor one of our fellow freedom fighters who lost his life standing up for what was right.”

It remains to be seen how successful the extreme right will be in elevating Finicum to the pantheon of extremists considered martyrs by the movement, or whether their attempts to use Finicum to rally support will be successful past the short term. The still-unresolved standoff in Malheur, with its four holdouts refusing to leave, also makes the future more uncertain. However, what is clear is that anti-government extremists are right now energetically trying to use Finicum’s death to rally support for their cause and this in itself is troubling.

 

 

 

 

 

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January 27, 2016

Oregon Standoff: Developments

  • On January 2, a loosely organized group of armed anti-government extremists led by Ammon Bundy seized control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters buildings located near the town of Burns in remote southeastern Oregon.  They later named themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.oregon-standoff-arrest
  • On Tuesday, January 26, Ammon Bundy and several others were arrested by federal and state law enforcement officers during a traffic stop near John Day, Oregon. LaVoy Finicum, who served as a spokesman for the group, was killed during the arrest; another occupier was slightly injured.  Two others were arrested in Burns, Oregon, while another occupier turned himself in to authorities in Arizona.
  • Those arrested so far include Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Brian Cavalier, Pete Santilli, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, and Jon Ritzheimer. For background information on all of the occupiers who were arrested or killed, as well as many of the other remaining occupiers and allies who has been at the wildlife refuge headquarters, see: The Occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters.
  • Although some occupiers have reportedly left the Malheur refuge headquarters, others remain.

LATEST UPDATES

4:15 PM (EST) oregon call to violenceOccupier Sean Anderson cradling an assault rifle and urging people to come to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge appeared on a YouTube live stream earlier today and said: “There are no laws in this United States now. This is a free for all Armageddon. Any leo, or military, or law enforcement, or feds, that stand up and fuck their oath, don’t abide by their oath are the enemy. If they stop you from getting here … KILL THEM!”

3:23 PM (EST) Dave Fry, an Ohio resident still occupying the wildlife refuge after the arrests of several cohorts yesterday made anti-Semitic comments in his live feed at the refuge. Fry spoke about “fake Jews,” a term used by a number of white supremacists and conspiracy theorists who believe that many people who call themselves Jews today are not truly Jewish but are descended from a race of people called the Khazars.  Drumming up anti-Semitic myths, Fry claimed that “fake Jews” believe “they’re superior to people,” are “evil” and “do a lot of evil things with their money.”

3:10 PM (EST) Occupier Victoria Sharp’s audio account claiming LaVoy Finicum was murdered has been shared nearly 3,500 times on Facebook alone, leaving aside other places, as extremists attempt to turn Finicum into a martyr for the anti-government causes.

1:31 PM (EST) Occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have begun using heavy machinery – apparently either to dig a trench or to build an earthen barrier, presumably to impede entry.

1:26 PM (EST): The current leader of the Oregon standoff appears to be Jason Patrick, who took over the role from Blaine Cooper early Wednesday. Patrick, who was at the Bundy Ranch in 2014, is an anti-government extremist and Three Percenter known in his home state of Georgia for his outbursts against law enforcement and court personnel, and for his attempts to bring video cameras into courtrooms.

12:51 PM (EST): Reacting to the evolving situation in Oregon, the anti-government extremist Pacific Patriots Network issued a “Stand By” order to their members and followers. “Cooler heads must prevail,” they announced. “We do not wish to inflame the current situation and will engage in open dialogue until all the facts have been gathered.” Based on previous, similar incidents, this is the expected response from most organized groups, who tend to understand the futility of engaging the federal government’s firepower. Individuals tend to be more volatile (and less predictable) in these situations.

12:28 PM (EST): Right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck issued a statement on Facebook Wednesday morning, writing that he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life” in Oregon, but that the protesters at Malheur should not have been armed. Because they were so vocal about their commitment to using violence, as necessary, to defend their beliefs, Beck argues, “The[ir] cause was lost before it began.”

11:52 AM (EST): As tensions increase, so too does the apparent rhetoric by some of the standoff participants. During a live feed of the standoff on YouTube, a male can clearly be heard saying “There will be a shootout… None of them are safe. When I get outta here, I’m gonna hunt them down!”

11:45 AM (EST): Michele Fiore, a Nevada state assembly person, has taken to Twitter to repeat the extremist claim that LaVoy Finicum was murdered by the government. Fiore is an ally of Cliven Bundy, the anti-government extremist whose standoff with authorities in 2014 in Nevada inspired his sons to seize the wildlife refuge in Oregon.

11:31 AM (EST): Sup­port­ers of the siege at wildlife refuge in Ore­gon, includ­ing Twit­ter users as well as wlavoy memehite suprema­cists on Storm­front , are cir­cu­lat­ing an image of LaVoy Finicum in an attempt to turn the extremist into a right-wing martyr. Finicum allegedly was killed while charging law enforcement officers who were attempting to arrest Finicum and other occupiers. The meme repeats an extremist claim circulating on the Internet that Finicum was mur­dered while unarmed and with his hands in the air.

11:20 AM (EST): The remaining extremists at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff are still defiant and  not ready to surrender to authorities. Duane Ehmer of Irrigon, Oregon, and off and on participant in the standoff, said on Facebook that “now the wolves are at the gate, Were [sic] are those Oath keepers.” He is referring to the anti-government extremist group that often injects itself into conflicts. More information on the Oath Keepers.

10:17 AM (EST): Some anti-government extremists are already attempting to portray Finicum as a martyr; the risk of retaliation by anti-government extremists, locally or elsewhere, against the federal government is fairly substantial.

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January 11, 2016

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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