ROP Statement on Day of Action in Solidarity with Harney County and Burns Paiute Tribe

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Click here for details on local actions around the state.


Jessica Campbell, Organizing Director, Rural Organizing Project: 541-999-8144
Cara Shufelt, Director, Rural Organizing Project: 503-349-3918

January 29th, 2016

The Rural Organizing Project is coordinating a statewide Day of Action in Solidarity with the people of Harney County and the Burns Paiute Tribe on January 30th. People and groups from across the state will participate in actions in their home communities to send the message that militias, paramilitaries and their tactics of threats and intimidation are not welcome in any of our towns or in rural Oregon.

Earlier this week, multiple leaders of the armed takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were arrested. One of the armed occupiers was killed during a confrontation with police. The Rural Organizing Project mourns this loss of life, and hopes for a quick and peaceful resolution to the ongoing standoff without further bloodshed.

Several militia and paramilitary groups issued a call for their supporters to come to Burns immediately for an “operation” on Saturday. The Rural Organizing Project calls on all militias and armed occupiers to leave Harney County now before there is any other loss of life in accordance with the wishes of the local community and the Burns Paiute Tribe.  Actions will be taking place in Portland, Scappoose, La Grande, Prineville, Albany, Eugene and Cottage Grove, among other small towns across Oregon.

“We do not accept that our political differences should be settled by armed groups through tactics of fear and intimidation,” says Joe Lewis, Board member of the Rural Organizing Project and an organizer of the action in Scappoose. “Our communities have a rural tradition of collaboration, conversation and resolving disputes without resorting to threats or violence.”

The occupation in Harney County is not an isolated event; over the last several years there has been a growth of militia and so-called patriot groups in rural communities in Oregon. Communities across Oregon who have already been suffering from an ongoing economic crisis are now being subjected to an increasing atmosphere of tension and potential violence. Militias and paramilitaries continue to exploit the insecurity rural Oregonians feel as the result of underfunded public services in order to advance their own agenda, offering only more divisions.

“Our rural communities across the state are struggling to stay connected, and these armed groups offer only more divisions,” says Joe Lewis. “It’s time to talk about real solutions for the issues facing hard-hit small towns.”

We are rallying across Oregon on Saturday because we know that rural Oregon needs a new economy. We need basic services such as 24-hour 911, adequate public safety for unserved areas, emergency services, fully funded fire districts.  We need public investment to create jobs where the private sector falls short, investments in education, sustainable energy projects, and the re-building of our physical infrastructure.  We need debt relief, tax reform that makes the 1% pay their fair share, a livable minimum wage, and help for producers dealing with a commodity system dominated by a few giant corporations. The only way these necessary reforms can happen is when the grassroots people unite. United we stand, divided we fall.

Communities participating in the Day of Action are also supporting the people of Harney County and the Burns Paiute Tribe by fundraising for the Harney District Hospital’s a Sip for the Cure Masquerade Tea Party and The Burns Paiute Tribe’s Tu-Wa-Kii-Nobi “Kid’s House” after school program.