Brawl Breaks Out at Oregon Wildlife Refuge Standoff
It seems clownish enough on its surface, but remember that these loons are heavily armed; all it takes is one idiot to pull a gun and things could get nasty: At Bundy encampment, outsider says militants ‘attacked’ his group.
Lewis Arthur, who leads a group called Veterans on Patrol and calls himself an anti-violence patriot, arrived Wednesday afternoon with a small crew. By Wednesday night, one of Arthur’s three-person crew was in the hospital, his eye blackened from a punch to the face.
In an interview Thursday, Arthur blamed the injuries on Blaine Cooper, a prominent member of the group of militants who since Saturday have staged a standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The group’s members say they hope to exonerate two area ranchers imprisoned on arson charges and then turn over land on the federally owned refuge to private owners.
Arthur said those inside the refuge didn’t agree with his mission to remove women and children — as well as prominent militant Ryan Payne — from the compound.
Jason Patrick, another participant in the refuge standoff, tells a different story. In a Facebook post Thursday morning, he said Arthur initiated the scuffle when he “assaulted a guard” in an attempt to enter the compound.
In an interview, refuge occupier Jon Ritzheimer said the guard was shoved aside, causing him to bloody his hand when he collided with his truck.
Arthur’s tension with Payne goes back years, to the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch. Both attended the standoff, and Arthur said the two were once friends but the relationship devolved when Payne became radicalized and “suicidal.”
“He made it very clear out there that he wanted the federal government to go and take him out,” Arthur said, adding that Payne believed he would be a martyr in the so-called patriot community if he died for the cause. “I had to come up here because I know what he wants.”
A member of Veterans On Patrol posted this account of the brawl on Facebook: