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  • Writer's pictureRocky Barker

From Malheur to January 6th

Updated: May 1

Blog by Rocky Barker

Copyright 2023

I watched on television as a pro-Trump mob rushed into the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 as lawmakers sought to certify the election of Joe Biden as president.

I watched as they ransacked offices, broke down doors and windows, destroyed federal property and sent fear into the hearts of legislators, their staff and even Vice President Mike Pence. They killed 4 police officers, and one of the insurrectionists, a woman and veteran, also was killed.

For me it was déjà vu.

In January 2016, I entered the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon after Ammon Bundy and his rabble of militia had taken it over. They were not protesters engaging in civil disobedience, despite that characterization by then Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador.

They were domestic terrorists.

Ammon Bundy talks with Raul Labrador, now Idaho Attorney General

They were armed, with a guard and an assault rifle in a tower at the entrance. They had ransacked the offices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stealing papers and causing more than $6 million worth of damage.

They desecrated sacred tribal ground and rummaged through Native artifacts. We watched Ammon and his brother Ryan erect a sign next to the headquarters using federal materials for the upcoming evening press conference.

Ammon Bundy encouraged Idahoans to go to D.C. He then ran for Idaho governor and got 100,000 votes. After St. Lukes successfully sued him for defamation, he was forced to give up his home and I don’t knw where he is now.

Bundy, had urged members of the group he formed, People's Rights, to go. He was in the mountains he said when the Capitol takeover occurred Wednesday.

"I do feel like it was a great opportunity to unite people or make people aware of the tools that are available for them to unite," he said. "I think it was John F. Kennedy who said the best: 'Those who make peaceful revolutions impossible make violent revolutions inevitable.'"

Later in 2016, a jury found the Bundys and several other occupiers not guilty. But 11 others like Iraq War veteran Duane Ehmer, of Irrigon, Oregon, served prison sentences. Ehmer, best known for the picture of him carrying an American flag as he rode his horse Hellboy on the refuge, escorted Tina and I to ensure we did not go inside the headquarters where the big guns were kept hidden from the press.

The Bundys also got off scot-free in 2018 for their standoff with federal officers in 2014 in Nevada at their father's ranch because of what the federal judge called "flagrant misconduct" by federal prosecutors who withheld evidence.

The message to Bundy was clear -- just as it was to the growing number of militia, anti-government and white supremacist groups that have emerged ever since Randy Weaver's standoff with federal agents in 1992 at Ruby Ridge in North Idaho. You can push the limits of society through intimidation, occupation and even violence.

White supremacy, domestic tolerance shouldn't be tolerated.

So where do we go from here?

We can't continue to tolerate intimidation of politicians involved in the democratic process.

We can't tolerate white supremacy.

We must stand together against violence.

We also need to come together to resolve the great problems we face. We need to learn together the facts, honor our differences and find common ground.

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