Patriots or Terrorists?: A Short Overview of the Oregon Standoff And Its Relationship With Race

On January 5, 2016 in Burns, Oregon, a group of armed men invaded and took over a National Wildlife Center in protest of two farmers being placed under arrest for burning many acres of federal land. The two farmers, Dwight and Steve Hammond, claimed that the burning was accidental and happened because a fire set to control their own crops got out of hand. Interestingly enough, the Hammonds surrendered quickly, and deny any involvement with the faction in the wildlife center. The leader of the group, Ammon Bundy, declared his support of the Hammonds and rallied farmers in the area to occupy the reserve in hopes of somehow keeping the Hammonds from serving their sentence. After the Hammonds publicly denied and affiliation with them, Ammon set his sights on something bigger. He hopes to establish a “safe haven for patriots across America” and plans to occupy the reserve for as long as he sees fit. He called out on social media for other “patriots” to join up and help him further his aims.


My question is: Where are the police? In Ferguson and other Black Lives Matter protests, we saw a massive police presence complete with armored vans, tear gas and, rubber bullets. All protesters, not just the violent ones, were labeled thugs as soon as the media covered the story. Not to mention unarmed black men like Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin were shot and killed immediately because of perceived danger, and don’t even get me started on what would happen if a group of Muslim Americans occupied federal property to create a haven for “patriots”. Why is it that these heavily armed and clearly dangerous white men who have stolen federal land are being called a “militia” by the mainstream media instead of the terrorists that they are? Why is it that no police or military action has been taken and no lives have been lost?


The answer is simple: racism. When a 12 year old black boy is playing with a toy gun in a park, the “perceived danger” is enough to shoot and kill that child in cold blood and serve no time. But when a heavily armed radical group comprised of able-bodied men occupies federal land, threatens the use of deadly force, and refuses to leave peacefully, the perceived danger isn’t high enough to even send in the police because the radicals are white?


It’s clear to anyone who looks that people who think that we live in a “post-racial society” is not only kidding themselves, they are disrespecting the memory of those lives needlessly lost to white discrimination.

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