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Oregon militia bulldozes Native American archaeological site, still NBD

During their weeks-long occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, armed militants have declared their intention to return the federal land to its “rightful owners.” They’ve also made it apparent that by “rightful owners,” they weren’t talking about the Burns Paiute tribe, whose ancestral lands encompass the reserve. And on Wednesday, they made their priorities clear when they bulldozed a path through a Burns Paiute archaeological site.

They are desecrating and destroying sacred land. They have posted video of themselves pawing through Native American cultural artifacts preserved and archived at the refuge. They are arguably violating federal law and a treaty dating back to 1868. This has not spurred law enforcement into action. It can be inferred that the government’s fear of these armed white men holding the refuge hostage outweighs their respect for the Burns Paiute culture preserved within, or else they would finally take some kind of action to end the occupation.

I am not saying that said action should include any kind of charging in or any kind of blazing guns. For that matter, I haven’t encountered anyone who actually does. Most reasonable people recognize that wholesale death and destruction, even a little bit, are bad things. But there’s restraint, and then there’s leaving the Burns Paiute tribe to watch their culture getting crushed under bulldozer treads.

During the 2015 Baltimore protests following the death of Freddie Gray, a group of protesters looted and burned a CVS store — which is a store much like 7,600 other CVS stores in the U.S. The next day, the National Guard arrived. (Indeed, pretty much any time black protesters so walk as march past private property, they’re met with force. In Ferguson in 2014, protesters marching literally unarmed and with their hands in the air were met with urban police tanks, teargas, and rubber bullets.) None of that is to say that the Oregon militants should also be subject to that kind of force — again, loss of life and destruction of property are things we want to avoid. But the question of what law enforcement is willing to protect, and who they’re willing to hurt in order to do it, remains.

These militants know they aren’t going to face interference from law enforcement because they never have before (although the standoff in Nevada was at least attended by a handful of sheriff’s deputies and BLM rangers). “Restraint,” in this case, has become not just moving cautiously but actually doing nothing at all. If these militants weren’t armed, if they hadn’t expressed a willingness to take lives, if they didn’t have the memory of Waco and Ruby Ridge to hide behind like a shield, the Burns Paiute land and artifacts might be as revered as a CVS in Baltimore. (Then again, maybe not.) But as long as they continue to receive the kind of “restraint” they’ve enjoyed for the past three weeks, the militants are going to keep bulldozing their way through the reserve in the name of the land’s “rightful owners.”

Guns don’t need to blaze. But a visit from a sheriff’s deputy carrying a white flag to politely ask them to leave the fences where they are, please, thank you, might not be unwelcome — if it’s okay with them, of course. Whatever works for their schedule.

7 thoughts on Oregon militia bulldozes Native American archaeological site, still NBD

  1. What really drives me crazy about the law enforcement in this case is that they are letting these *criminals* come and go at will.

    If they go out to the post office or to buy snacks, arrest them!! OMG. This is outrageous and frustrating!

  2. I think the feds are in a total mess here. They are racist in their tactics and unjust in their actions, but they are not stupid. They have treason that they can’t call treason, terrorists they can’t call terrorists, and declarations of war they can’t call declarations of war. When it comes down to it, the system cannot allow this kind of challenge to go unpunished, but they don’t know how to finish this without violence. The whole country is absolutely focused on everything happening, so the stakes are very high.

    These men are definitely reaping the rewards of white privilege here in the tolerance the feds have shown for their actions, but I think those rewards will later be accompanied by a lot more prison time than any Baltimore of Ferguson protester has been given.

  3. Actually, right now I’m so mad I’d be fine with burning that buidling to the ground and shooting whoever runs out. It was good enough to do to us whenever we didn’t bow to the government so screw em.

  4. Here is how negotiations should go with these terrorists.
    You have 30 minutes to put down your weapons and surrender or be turned into a red mist.This ends negotiations.
    Also where are these guys ancestors buried?I think we need to put through a road over them.

  5. You know…during the Wounded Knee incident in the 70s, the government showed up with fifteen armored personnel carriers, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, flares, helicopters, 133,000 rounds of ammunition, maintenance personnel from the National Guard of five states, pilots and planes.

    In other words, they sent the military in.

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