The standoff in Oregon involving a group of ranchers and militia members burst onto national headlines Saturday, but the conflict that sparked it has been simmering for much longer.
In fact, the Bundy family — Nevada ranchers who had their own conflict with the federal government in 2014, and who are now involved in Oregon — have for months been rallying around the Hammonds, a pair of Oregon ranchers facing prison time for arson. Here are some of the highlights from the Bundys' frequent emails that discuss the Hammonds and foreshadow what would become the standoff:
Nov. 6: "Please stay informed about the Hammond Family and be prepared to act according to the prompting the Lord gives you."
In the fall, Ammon Bundy — the son of better-known Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy — wrote that the Hammonds have been "battered and abused by the federal government for over a decade." Ammon went on to call the courts and federal attorneys "deceitful and full of corruption" before adding that the Bundys are "determined to do what ever it takes" to help the Hammonds.
"Please stay informed about the Hammond Family and be prepared to act according to the prompting the Lord gives you," the email later adds.
Nov. 17: "The injustices the Hammonds are suffering will be a type and shadow of the suffering the American people will endure if we do not stand and put an end to it."
The quote above comes from an email sent by Carol Bundy, Cliven Bundy's wife. The email urges supporters to contact Harney County Sheriff David Ward "in an effort to influence him to stand and protect the Hammonds."
The "type and shadow" language is especially significant. It comes from The Book of Mormon (the scripture, not the musical) and is used by a prophet who is decrying a king that has unjustly oppressed and taxed his people.
Nov. 21: "She then informed me that she feared that if we continued to talk, federal agents were going to put a bullet in her and Dwight's heads, and possible mine."
In late November, Ammon Bundy recounted a conversation with Susie Hammond, the wife of one of the Oregon ranchers facing prison time. The email discussed the Hammonds' fear that their lives were in danger, and Ammon's attempts to assuage those concerns.
"I attempted to instill courage in both Dwight and Susie, but fear had over come them," Ammon wrote.
The email also quoted from the Doctrine and Covenants, another Mormon scripture: "Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn."
Nov. 27: "We would also like to warn anyone that has contacted the Sheriff; he has been feeding your information to the FBI."
An email signed "The Bundy Family" expressed disappointment that the local sheriff in Oregon had "unfortunately fallen to the influences of federal agents and has taken an adverse position against the Hammonds."
In addition to warning supporters that the sheriff was passing information to the FBI, the email urged supporters to contact local lawmakers, and described the stuggle as an "age-old battle of Force vs. Agency."
Another email from December included a letter Ammon sent to the sheriff asking "why do the brothers in blue take the people's money by force and purchase military equipment and arms in the name of protecting the people, only to use it on the people themselves?"
Dec. 30: "A call to action."
Just before the New Year, Ammon Bundy sent an email with the subject "This is a Call to Action." The email discussed the declining economics of Harney County, Oregon, and concluded with this: "All able body men and women come to Burns, Oregon on or before Jan. 2nd. Come prepared and be willing to stand."
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at email@example.com.
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