Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump pardons Oregon ranchers who inspired Malheur seizure in early 2016

Carl Segerstrom reports for the High Country News, calling father-and-son Hammonds "symbols of anti-federal movement."  Here's an excerpt from today's story:
The pardon follows a plea for clemency from Republican Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, on June 26.
In a press release, Walden wrote: “Today is a win for justice, and an acknowledgement of our unique way of life in the high desert, rural West. I applaud President Trump for thoroughly reviewing the facts of this case, rightly determining the Hammonds were treated unfairly, and taking action to correct this injustice.” 
Environmental groups and supporters of the refuge had a different take on the pardon. “We regret the message sent by the president when pardoning the Hammonds, which bolsters those intent on destroying federal property and endangering federal employees,” said Geoffrey Haskett, the president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. 
The father-and-son duo were imprisoned for arson after setting a series of fires on private land that moved on to public land. While Walden has claimed that the Hammonds were simply using the fires as a range management tool, witnesses in the federal case against the Hammonds testified that one of the multiple fires were set to cover up evidence of illegal deer poaching on Bureau of Land Management land. Federal agencies incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses fighting the fires.
The Hammonds have a history of clashes with federal land managers in rural eastern Oregon. Malheur refuge employees have alleged that they have received death threats from Dwight Hammond dating back to 1986.
Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, a public-lands advocacy group, is quoted regarding the significance of he pardon: 
Pardoning the Hammonds sends a dangerous message to America’s park rangers, wildland firefighters, law enforcement officers, and public lands managers.  President Trump, at the urging of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has once again sided with lawless extremists who believe that public land does not belong to all Americans.
Earlier coverage of the Malheur seizure is here, here, here, and here.  The New York Times coverage of today's pardon is here.  I note that the "gray lady" uses the same Rokala quote but buries the comments from Representative Walden much deeper in its story.

Washington Post coverage of the matter included an interview with Land Tawney, president of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, who said that the outright pardon, as opposed to a commutation of the sentence,
sends a message of tolerance for lawbreakers who could diminish our public lands and waters.
Tawney predicted that the decision "will send shock waves up the ranks of the BLM" and commented: 
You are just empowering and emboldening those who disrespect the people who are there to manage these lands for all the people of America.  
Here is coverage from The Oregonian, which includes a phone interview with Susie Hammond, wife and mother of the ranchers.   It reports that the Hammonds "walked out of a federal prison in California about 6 1/2 hours" after Trump signed the pardon. It also quotes Ammon Bundy, who led the 41-day Malheur Wildlife Refuge seizure:
"The true reason the Hammonds have suffered has not been corrected. It must be corrected." [Bundy] pledged to continue to fight against the federal government's "control over land and resources inside our states."
The Oregonian story features this family photo, apparently from Susie Hammond's Facebook page.

These excerpts come from my (very left-leaning) Twitter feed:


More commentary on Western ranchers in relation to the federal government is here and here.

No comments: