Armed Oregon protesters urged to leave as standoff enters fourth day
An armed occupation of a federally owned wildlife outpost in remote Oregon rolled into its fourth day Tuesday, even after the two men at the center of the unrest disavowed the protest.
The group, which calls itself the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. It was empty at the time because of the holidays.
They have been calling for the release of Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven, 46, two ranchers who were convicted of setting fires that spread to government land. The occupiers have also vowed to remain in the building until federally owned land is returned "back to the people."
The ringleaders are Ammon and Ryan Bundy — sons of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher known for another standoff with the federal government in 2014.
Related: What is the Oregon Standoff Really All About?
The FBI, which is leading the response, said Sunday night it wants a "peaceful" end to the standoff. Law enforcement officials have not attempted to take back the isolated building but local schools have shut their doors until next week and residents have been warned to keep their distance.
See more from the armed protest:
The protesters have remained at the reserve even after the Hammonds, who turned themselves in at the federal prison in San Pedro, California, on Monday afternoon, appeared to disavow the occupation.
The Hammonds' lawyers said they plan to appeal to President Barack Obama for executive clemency, but stated that "neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family."
This sentiment was reinforced Monday by the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, which said that while it supported the Hammonds "via avenues that are in accordance with the law," the association did "not support illegal activity taken against the government," referencing the Bundys' occupation.
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said that the occupiers were no longer welcome in the community.
"The Hammonds have turned themselves in," he said. "It is time for you to leave our community. Go home, be with your own families and end this peacefully."
Ammon Bundy told NBC's TODAY on Monday that the occupiers have no intention of committing violence unless the government intervenes.
"The only violence that, if it comes our way, will be because government is wanting their building back,'' he said. "We're putting nobody in harm's way. We are not threatening anybody. We're 30 miles out of the closest town."
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