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What’s The Truth?

Written by Dennis Sun

Like you, we at the Roundup have been trying to decide what is the true story coming out of eastern Oregon with the Hammond family and now the Bundy-led occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. As you well know, there have been numerous stories coming out of the area concerning the Hammond family for the past couple of years, and now the stories are an everyday occurrence.

We have not written anything here for a couple of reasons. We all feel the emotion that the Hammond family must be going through as Dwight and Steven Hammond go back to a federal prison to serve more time after a federal judge ruled they hadn’t served enough time for crimes they were found guilty of, and we sure didn’t want to print something that was not true. We felt it was better to be silent than to be wrong. After hearing from ranchers and others in Oregon, I’m still not sure what the real story is among all of the stories printed.

First off, although legal, resentencing the Hammonds to finish their mandatory minimum sentence of five years is unrealistically harsh. The Hammonds are not terrorists in my eyes, but they were prosecuted under an anti-terrorism statute. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged the mandatory minimum considered unconstitutional by a District Judge is harsh, but ruled it’s not unusual and that the courts cannot disregard the required sentence.

The Hammonds are known to be a private, quiet and humble ranch family. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has declared that they do not support illegal activity taken against the government but has, and will continue, to support the Hammonds via avenues that are in accordance with the law. You can get on their website at orcattle.com and sign a petition started by the Association asking the White House to review the case and grant the Hammonds clemency. There is also an address to send money for the Hammonds. Now, the Hammonds haven’t requested money be sent to them, and Dwight Hammond said he thought that was wrong. Regardless, many are sending checks to a bank in Burns, Ore. that is holding the money.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the Public Lands Council were very close in negotiating an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to get the Hammond’s grazing permit back. Then the Bundy-led occupation took place and BLM disappeared. Both the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Public Lands Council have been working behind-the-scenes to help the Hammonds. Neither the occupation nor all of the media attention has helped at all.

The Hammonds, as I hear it, don’t like what the Bundys are doing with the occupation, and so far, I don’t think the Bundy’s actions help any public lands ranchers either. First they are armed as a militia, and that’s a blow to the lawful efforts to loosen the government’s grip on western lands. Being armed just gives the wrong impression to the American public, as most don’t understand the overreach by the federal government in the West anyway.

The Public Lands Council is quietly ramping up a public relations move to tell the real story of public lands ranchers and the benefits they create on the public lands. We hope it helps and that it is not too late. There is a true story to tell about those who use the public lands in the West.