The news stories about the protests in Oregon over father and son ranchers being sent to jail are all about the protests but say little about what is being protested.
The New York Times reports that Dwight Hammond, 73, has spent three months in jail and his son Steven Hammond, 46, has spent one year in jail, but a judge has ruled they must serve four more years for arson. The story says, “The Hammonds admitted they lit fires in 2001 and 2006, but said it had been to protect their property from wildfires and invasive plant species.”
What isn’t being reported is that the Hammonds were prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 following the Oklahoma City bombing and requires a minimum of five years in prison.
Nor do the stories detail the nature of the so-called arson.
According to an Oregon Live story in October, in 2001 the Hammonds started a fire on their own property to burn off juniper and sagebrush that reduced the grass available for their cattle. The fire escaped their property and burned 139 acres of BLM land. That acreage was taken out of grazing for two years.
In 2006, the story says, lightning started several fires and Steven Hammond set a back-burn fire to try to prevent the fire from spreading. That fire burned an acre of public land.
For that the Hammonds were prosecuted under a domestic terrorism law? They were trying to protect their own property and livelihoods, not engage in an act of terrorism. Is that justice?
That is the reason for the protest. What has gotten overplayed most is that the protesters include some of Cliven Bundy’s sons.