Malheur Feds Post an Open Letter to Occupiers
The message posted to Facebook by Malheur staff says the workers look forward to the "healing process."
In an open letter posted to Facebook Wednesday morning, federal employees at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge urged the militia group occupying their workplace to move on, but said they did not wish to "inflame an already heated situation."
Calling the group "illegal occupiers" and "militants," the message emphasized the role the refuge plays in Harney County. The occupation has kept feds from their jobs, the post noted. It also emphasized that refuge employees are longtime members of the community who "study, watch our kids play basketball, worship, commune, and interact with our fellow Harney County citizens—not as a ‘we vs. they’—but as an ‘us.’ "
The letter went on to reference the "rule of law" and discourse around it.
We can have effective disagreements and either find resolution, find compromise, or simply agree to disagree. But we do it with respect for the rule of law, and know that our areas of agreement and cooperation are infinitely more powerful than the differences we may face. Mostly, we face those differences together with open dialogue and open gates—not intimidation and threats. We have access to each other, because we are not afraid to confront difficult situations or have difficult conversation.
The post also cited the role of the government in the Harney County community. "We are all touched or involved in the public process," the letter read, noting that nearly "40 percent of working adults" are "engaged in some form of government" in the county.
The armed Citizens for Constitutional Freedom group has been occupying the refuge's headquarters since Jan. 2. According to a Bureau of Land Management spokesperson, BLM employs approximately 120 feds, who are all on administrative leave. As such, the occupation of the refuge's headquarters is costing taxpayers approximately $117,000 per week in salary for feds not working.
During a community meeting Tuesday night, militia leader Ammon Bundy was greeted with anger and community members chanting "Go, go, go, go, go" at him, according to a report Tuesday in the Oregonian. One community member told Bundy to "Get the hell out of my county" during the meeting.
The feds' Facebook letter ended with a call for Harney County to move on from the standoff – whenever it does end. "We believe that this difficult situation will lead to even stronger bonds between the refuge and the community that has supported us," it read. "We feel for you, because we are you."
Read the entire letter below.