A father and his son, both ranchers convicted of arson on public lands, will report back to prison in Oregon today.
Meanwhile, an armed group is occupying a federal building at the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in protest of the government's land management policies, and in solidarity with the ranchers.
Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti discussed this with Harney County Judge Steven Grasty, who spoke for the county court in saying "while the principles behind their arguments I think most of us agree with, we [in] no way, shape, or form condone or support the actions of these militia groups."
Grasty added that his community often worries about "excessive government regulation," but most people would like the outside militia groups to leave the area, especially given that "their very principles are that they think local control ought to take place. Our citizens are questioning why there's an outside group like this, coming in and trying to put their values on top of ones that in many cases don't line up with local values."
While the local government has no communication with the militia groups, Grasty said that he and his colleagues would like to keep the situation "non-confrontational."
"We don't see anyone on our side packing firearms and we do on the other side. Our goal here is to keep our local residents safe, and that'll remain our priority," Grasty explained. "What law enforcement does will obviously be their call, but I would hope that they would not use any of the terrible examples" of past confrontations at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
- Steve Grasty, county judge for Harney County, Oregon.
This segment aired on January 4, 2016.