Thursday, February 11, 2016

Oregon Standoff Ends as Last Militant Surrenders

The last four holdouts in the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon surrendered peacefully Thursday morning, 40 days after the standoff began.

Three of the four walked out to waiting F.B.I. agents over the course of a few minutes after 9:30 a.m., but the fourth, David Fry, at first said he would not.

In an extraordinary, hourslong negotiation with supporters and F.B.I. agent, with thousands of people listening to the conversation on a live stream online, he aired a wide range of grievances, said he was suicidal, and said repeatedly that his choice was “liberty or death.” Ultimately he gave himself up without a fight.

The occupation by antigovernment militants appeared to be reaching its end in late January, when 11 of its most prominent members — including the leader, Ammon Bundy — were arrested while venturing out of the refuge. One protester was killed, and some of the remaining occupiers heeded calls by Mr. Bundy and others to go home.

But four refused to leave, and held out for another two weeks until three gave themselves up Thursday to the F.B.I. after lengthy negotiations by phone. The Rev. Franklin Graham and Michele Fiore, a Nevada state lawmaker and supporter of the Bundy family, helped smooth the surrender, first speaking by phone to the occupiers in a conversation that was streamed live online. They then accompanied the F.B.I. agents who drove to the refuge and arrested the holdouts.

The end of the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge came the day after the F.B.I. arrested Cliven Bundy, father of Ammon Bundy and an icon to antigovernment activists in the West, who was at the center of another armed standoff with government agents, in Nevada in 2014.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/12/us/oregon-standoff.html

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