Armed occupiers of Oregon wildlife refuge: 'We would like to ask - KPTV - FOX 12

Armed occupiers of Oregon wildlife refuge: 'We would like to ask the FBI to go home'

Posted: Updated:
Lavoy Finicum addresses the media Friday outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Lavoy Finicum addresses the media Friday outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Lavoy Finicum said Friday, "We would like to ask the FBI to go home." Lavoy Finicum said Friday, "We would like to ask the FBI to go home."
BURNS, OR (KPTV) -

The armed group that continues to occupy an Oregon wildlife refuge said Friday it's the FBI that should leave town.

"We would like to ask the FBI to go home," said group spokesman Lavoy Finicum.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, Gov. Kate Brown and community members have previously called for the group to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The group took over the rural refuge in the southeastern part of the state on Jan. 2 to protest federal land policies.

Ward said the sheriff's office has received an increased number of harassment and intimidation reports since the group came to town.

Finicum claimed federal agents are bringing guns to schools and public buildings in the Burns area, while his group is doing no such thing.

"Quit acting as militia and stirring up fear," Finicum said of the FBI, adding, "This isn't Russia. This isn't the Berlin Wall."

The occupiers had hoped to host a meeting Friday with Harney County community members to address the group's objectives, but said they were denied access to use the county fairgrounds by Harney County Judge Steve Grasty.

"So I ask, judge, what are you afraid of? Are you hiding something? Are you afraid of open dialogue?" Finicum said.

Finicum said their planned meeting with the community was to include a PowerPoint presentation about the group's goals. Group leaders previously said they would reveal their planned departure date during that meeting, but Finicum did not address that during a brief press conference Friday.

On Friday evening, the county responded with a release saying there are policies adopted by the Fair Board for using the facilities, but group leader Ammon Bundy "simply did not make an effort to follow these procedures."

In protecting that investment the County has publicly stated it would not allow the facility to be used by those who are committing criminal activities. It did this to protect both the facility and the public. Ammon Bundy and his group have already taken public property for their personal aims, and used it in an unauthorized manner. Even if the Community of Safety had followed the appropriate process to request rental of the Fairgrounds, Harney County would have opposed use by a group that has proven disrespectful of public property. They have proven themselves untrustworthy to use resources that belong to the community. -Harney County statement

The county also addressed claims that they are violating the group's rights of free speech. 

The free speech provision of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not guarantee access to property for speech activities simply because the property is publicly-owned. Further, it does not require access be at no charge or without conditions to maintain and protect the government facilities. Likewise, it is also not a constitutional violation to discourage parties actively engaged in criminal activities from using the facility to further that activity. -Harney County statement

Copyright 2016 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.