Trump pardons OR ranchers at center of 40-day standoff

11 Julio, 2018, 06:23 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • In this composite with handout images provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office suspects Ammon Bundy Ryan Bundy Ryan Waylen Payne Brian Cavalier  Peter Santilli Joseph Donald OShaughnessy, and Shawna Cox pose for a

The decision sparked a protest from Ammon Bundy and dozens of others, who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Hammond ranch in southeastern OR from January 2 to February 11, 2016, complaining the Hammonds were victims of federal overreach.

The two OR ranchers were imprisoned in 2012 for arson, in a fire that encroached on Federal lands, and the incident is commonly viewed as a precursor to the Bundy family's infamous stands against the government.

A statement from the Hammond family thanked the community for the support, and said they hoped the pardon would signal the need for a more measured and just approach by federal agents, officers and prosecutors.

The Hammonds' crime of intentionally starting a fire on public land-which witnesses alleged was aimed at covering up the illegal slaughter of deer-carried a minimum prison sentence of five years, but a sympathetic judge decided in 2012 to hand the ranchers a far lighter sentence. Prosecutors appealed, and the Hammonds were ordered to serve the full five-year terms.

"Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency", the statement read.

The Oregon Farm Bureau also released a statement on the pardons, thanking everyone who "worked to end the injustice done to Steven and Dwight Hammond". The Hammonds said they set the fires to protect their land from invasive species; prosecutors later said it was to hide eveidence of illegal deer hunting.

The elder Hammond has served nearly three years of his sentence, while his son has been incarcerated for four years.

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Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, 49, were accused of setting two major fires, the first in 2001 and the second in 2006.

They have also paid $400,000 to the U.S.to settle a related civil suit. The elder Hammond said he was trying to fend off invasive species.

The pardons will hopefully make it clear that federal managers are not free to put ranchers out of business and take their land, said Dave Duquette, national strategic planner for Protect the Harvest, an agricultural and hunting nonprofit.

Most of the protesters at the Malheur site were acquitted of charges the government brought against them.

The OFB, which has advocated on the Hammonds' behalf, said on Tuesday that their punishment was a case of "prosecutorial overreach and bureaucratic vendetta".

Their convictions have drawn sharp rebukes from the local community amid allegations that the family was aggressively prosecuted using anti-terrorism statutes because they were outspoken about public land use in rural Oregon.

A USA flag covers a sign at the entrance of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 3, 2016.

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