Last week, Ammon Bundy met Harney County Sheriff David Ward on the side of Lava Bed Road near Highway 78.
Ward was attempting to negotiate a peaceful end to the protracted standoff that began two Saturdays ago when Bundy and a handful of armed militiamen “seized” a remote bird sanctuary in Oregon.
Bundy and his followers decided to occupy the federal building as a show of solidarity with Dwight Hammond and his son Steven who were sent back to jail last week in connection with fires they set back in 2001 and 2006.
Bundy’s militia - who now call themselves the “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom” - say they are standing up for state’s rights in a kind of ad hoc, haphazard rekindling of the Sagebrush Rebellion.
Following the meeting with Ward, Bundy said he felt like the group’s demands were being ignored. The Sheriff agreed. "I don't feel like they think they're getting enough attention yet," Ward remarked.
Subsequently, armed members of the Pacific Patriots Network showed up at the refuge before being asked to leave by Bundy. That visit prompted a meeting between the group and the FBI.
Now, in the latest escalation, Bundy is tearing down a government fence and replacing it with a gate in a move the group says will give local ranchers access to federal land. Here's the incredibly dramatic footage:
Happening now: Bundy breaking down fence on refuge pic.twitter.com/MH6wSoSfoR— Wanda Moore (@WandaKTVZ) January 11, 2016
Earlier today, Bundy insisted that the men will not be leaving the federal building until the Hammonds are set free.
At daily presser, Bundy focuses on the Hammonds and talks about the cattle fence they plan to take down. https://t.co/zbB6E9yEpr— Amanda Peacher (@amandapeacher) January 11, 2016
So, there you have it. The first federal property has been destroyed and Bundy has doubled down on the Hammond freedom demands.
Perhaps this latest publicity stunt will prompt authorities to end the 10-day siege although we imagine Bundy will soon be forced to do something a bit more dramatic if he wants to recapture the interest of an American public whose attention span is two days at best.