Oregon protesters find support and scorn on social media

Internet Mocks Oregon Militia With #YallQaeda
Internet Mocks Oregon Militia With #YallQaeda

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A group of self-styled militiamen occupying the headquarters of a U.S. national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon to protest the imminent imprisonment of two ranchers took to social media on Monday to drum up support for their cause.

READ MORE: Leader of Ore. armed standoff breaks silence

As the standoff with law enforcement authorities entered its third day, the group's leader Ammon Bundy was active on Twitter.

"As I said on @CNN this morning, I love my wife & family," said one recent post that was retweeted 76 times. "I have no plans nor desire to die. We are peaceful people. #OccupyMalheur."

A Facebook page associated with the Bundy family ranch featured numerous sympathetic posts and videos and was garnering hundreds of "likes" per hour.

The occupation, which began on Saturday, followed a march in Burns, a small city about 50 miles (80 km) north of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in support of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, who were convicted in 2012 of setting fires that spread to public land.

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"I'm going to tell you people, we need all your support because if we don't get it, we're not going to have a country at all," Ken Rhoads, a Michigan rancher who traveled to support the ranchers in Oregon, said in a video posted by the Facebook community "Bundy Ranch," which has received more than 2,000 likes. The Hammonds, speaking through their attorney, have disassociate themselves from the occupation.

The Bundy Ranch page is associated with Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher and Ammon Bundy's father. The Bundys have had previous disputes with federal land management officials.

However, not all the responses on the Bundy Ranch page were supportive of their cause.

"You do NOT speak for the majority of law abiding citizens," said a response to the Rhoads video from a Facebook user under the name Kevin Carroll, which had received more than 300 likes. "This can only end badly for you and your misguided followers."

At the same time, a debate raged on social media about whether Bundy's group should be called militiamen, as they have labeled themselves, or domestic terrorists.

Nicknames ridiculing the group were trending heavily on Twitter. Several popular hashtags played off common Islamic extremist labels, including #YallQaeda, #YeeHawdists, #VanillaISIS and #YokelHaram.

Twitter user Josie Kathleen posted this:

#YallQaeda Tweets

Twitter user @SuperRG1 wrote:

Watch more coverage:

'Militia' Takeover of Federal Building in Oregon Reaches Third Day
'Militia' Takeover of Federal Building in Oregon Reaches Third Day

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