Occupy Malheur should never have come as such a surprise

When a band of militiamen peeled off from a larger protest in Burns, Oregon, to occupy the nearby (in 10,000-square mile Harney County terms) Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, they took law enforcement officials largely by surprise:

Sheriff David Ward said protesters came to Harney County, in southeastern Oregon, “claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers.” In reality, he said, “these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

But in defense of #vanillaISIS, the group’s actions cannot so fairly be characterized as particularly unexpected. Officials in general, and Sheriff Ward in particular, should never have been caught quite so flat-footed. According to the New York Times:

Sheriff Ward revealed that some of the protesters had come to him as early as Nov. 5 to make their demands, putting them on the radar screen of local law enforcement months before the public knew about them.

If that date doesn’t ring a bell… I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot. Or if quotation marks would help: “Remember, remember, the 5th of November, The Gunpowder Treason and plot.”

In other words, these guys did everything short of donning actual Guy Fawkes masks to signal their treasonous intentions. Good thing the nearest federal facility was a wildlife refuge and not, say, Parliament the Capitol.


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