Join ROP and human dignity groups to take action in support of the people of Harney County. Scroll down to read more!
January 14th, 2016
If you have been following the headlines as the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge unfolds, you could come away with the sense that Harney County is divided. While the media reports support for the occupation by a handful of vocal locals, hundreds and hundreds of local residents have raised their voices in unison: the militias need to go home NOW and they can take their tactics of threats, violence and intimidation with them!
The most important story here is of the courageous neighbors struggling to keep their community together in the face of outside forces seeking to exploit the disenfranchisement of hardworking rural folks. The vast majority of rural people of Harney County are calling on the armed occupiers to go home. They are terrified and outraged by the militias threatening their local officials, law enforcement, Federal employees, neighbors, and friends. Young people are frightened to go back to school. Businesses are taking hard hits as locals stay out of town to avoid the militias. The majority of rural people in Oregon see this occupation for what it is: a publicity stunt that exploits a local community by people who have no stake in what happens to this community or county after they leave.
We, as proud rural Oregonians, have a very different set of demands that prioritizes viable communities that meet the needs of all, with respect for justice and inclusive democracy. With media all over this issue, we have an opportunity to confront these militias. Let’s make our voices heard. Let’s create an overwhelming response that demonstrates the armed militias will not go unopposed.
Join us in Action! We invite you and your group to take action in one or all of these ways:
1. Engage your local media. Send letters to the editor, call into radio shows, contact your local media with a press statement. Let’s overwhelm small town media with our message! Here are some resources to help you frame your message:
- ROP’s Talking Points on the Armed Occupation cover a variety of issues related to the occupation. Chose from them to write your own letter to the editor or use them to engage your friends, neighbors, community members and human dignity group.
- ROP’s Press Statement: submit this as your own press statement or edit it to be a letter to the editor using this modified version.
- Here are several sample letters to the editor from small town papers. Adopt, adapt and use them to inspire your own.
2. Engage your local elected officials
Rep Walden is issuing statements of support and some county commissioners have also spoken out in support. Out of state legislators are showing up in Harney County. This leaves many of us asking whether our elected officials are really legitimizing the actions of armed occupiers that use threats and intimidation against community members who may have a different opinion than them? Here are a few ways you can take action:
- Contact your city councilors, county commissioners or other electeds and ask them to issue a statement stating that the armed occupiers should go home to their families.
- Contact your County Sheriff. Ask him/ her to issue a statement in support of Sheriff Ward.
- Contact Rep. Walden’s office and express your concern about the intimidation tactics and the armed people in Harney County. Ask that he steps up and speaks out against the armed occupation. Remind him that the real problem is that a group with automatic rifles came into town and are intimidating people.
3. Rural Day of Action – Tell us what you think!
We want to make visible our opposition to the armed militia and patriot movement coming into our communities. Militia groups showed up in Josephine County in April, they showed up in Roseburg in October and now they are in Harney County. Enough is enough.
ROP and human dignity groups are interested in calling a Rural Day of Action. Ideas range from standing on street corner and holding up signs to holding a rally or march. Whether it’s 3 people or 100 people, this is an opportunity to tell our own story, to make visible the opposition to the armed occupation across rural Oregon and to show our solidarity with the people of Harney County. Is this something your group would participate in? Who in your community might you mobilize to participate? What would have a significant impact? This idea is still being shaped. Tell us what you think. What ideas do you have for a Rural Day of Action? What day might work best for your and your group? Let us know!
ROP can provide a sample press release for you to share with your local media and social media avenues to share your stories, pictures and messages.
Let us know how you and your group decide to engage! Send us copies of your letters, share reports on engagement with elected officials and be sure to connect for support in creating your local plan.
PS- There is a lot of information to share about the players and Far Right groups showing up in Harney County and we will share more on this in a future ROPnet. In the meantime, for updates on who is there and what is happening, visit our Facebook page.