Oregon Occupation Planned for Months by Ammon Bundy and Montana Militia Leader
By Carli Brosseau
on January 11, 2016 at 4:46 PM, updated January 11, 2016 at 5:29 PM
It may have looked spontaneous, but the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a week ago was part of a plan Ammon Bundy and a trusted associate developed largely in secret over the past two months.
Bundy, the son of controversial Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and Ryan Payne, a militia leader from Montana, came to believe that an armed occupation was the only way to bring enough attention to a pair of local ranchers heading to prison and change the underlying problem: federal land ownership.
Even as a wider network of anti-government groups and community members rejected taking action stronger than holding a public rally, Bundy and Payne privately strategized an occupation they felt was necessary to spread their message.
The Oregonian/OregonLive conducted dozens of interviews with Bundy, Payne, their supporters and federal officials that show how the leaders worked parallel tracks. They encouraged local organizers to plan a peaceful rally to back the ranchers — Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond — while they scoped out potential sites for a takeover.