FBI cuts off cell phone service for four remaining militants

COURTESY OF CSPAN - U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer said Wednesday, Feb. 3, that he planned legislation to reimburse Harney County for its costs associated with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover by armed militants.Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer said Wednesday that he planned legislation to have the federal government reimburse Harney County for its costs dealing with the four-week takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Blumenauer and state officials estimated that the occupation by armed militants cost about $100,000 a week. Blumenauer’s legislation requires the U.S. Department of Justice to quickly reimburse state and local law enforcement agencies for costs associated with responding to the armed takeover of the refuge. The measure also calls for the attorney general to recover the federal government’s costs by bringing civil action against the armed militia members.

“It must be made clear that armed takeover of government or private facilities, for grievances real or imagined, is absolutely unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” Blumenauer said during a floor speech in the U.S. House. “It’s not just enough to enforce the law. We should recover damages from lawbreakers who tear up the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat and destroy property. For this small community, a few hundred thousand dollars has a significant impact on the local taxpayer. They shouldn’t be made to pay the bill.”

Blumenauer is a Democrat representing Oregon's 3rd Congressional District in Portland and Multnomah County.

FBI cuts off cell phone service

About two dozen people led by Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan Bundy of Nevada, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, took over the wildlife refuge compound Jan. 2, vowing to stay until federal land in Harney County was redistributed to local ranchers. They also changed the name of the refuge to the Harney County Resource Center.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy were arrested with several other leaders of the takeover Jan. 26 during a traffic stop on Highway 395 about 20 miles north of Burns. The group was in two vehicles traveling to a community meeting in John Day.

Most of the leaders in custody face federal charges in Portland's U.S. District Court of conspiracy to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs.

During the stop, 54-year-old Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot to death when he jumped out of his truck in a snow bank and reached for a 9mm handgun in his jacket, according to FBI officials.

Since that night, most of the people occupying the refuge fled ahead of what they thought would be an attack by law enforcement. Four people left behind — David Fry, Sean and Sandy Anderson and Jeff Banta — have held their posts on one part of the compound for more than a week, talking with supporters and reporters by cell phones and posting YouTube videos about their life in the cold, muddy camp.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Wednesday that FBI officials blocking the refuge entrance cut off their cell phone service, replacing it with a cell phone that could be used only to talk with negotiators.

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