Yes, you all read that headline correctly. One of the Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge occupiers was arrested earlier today for unauthorized use of a (Federal) motor vehicle. The arrestee, Kenneth Medenbach of Crescent, Oregon was charged with a class C felony in Medford. Bail was set at $10,000. This is not Medenbach’s first run in with the Feds. Last November he was charged with illegally camping on Federal property. A condition of his release: not occupying Federal property. He has a long history of illegally trespassing on and/or occupying Federal land. Two vehicles in total were recovered. The other driver was not arrested as he had, apparently, made it into the safety of the Burns, Oregon Safeway.
In other standoff/occupation news, the planned Harney County Committee for Safety, the unelected and unaccountable shadow government set up by Ammon Bundy with about 40 Harney County residents, will not be having their announced Friday night meeting tonight. The actual Harney County officials, you know those elected by the people of Harney County and accountable to them, told them they couldn’t use the county fairgrounds. It is highly likely that this will be added to US Superior Court Judge of the Citizen’s Grand Jury of Harney list of charges against actual Harney County Judge Steve Grasty.
Earlier in the week Bundy and his followers tried to co-opt the sheriff of neighboring Grant County. To his credit Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer refused to get involved with the occupiers. He has informed Sheriff Ward of Harney County that he is staying out of the dispute, but will not come to Harney to shame the occupiers into leaving. This is important as Sheriff Palmer is reported to be sympathetic to the occupiers demands, as well as remarking that the Federal government was going to have to concede something to Ammon Bundy and his followers to bring the occupation to an end. Harney County Judge Grasty has also been trying to coordinate with other county officials in Eastern Oregon regarding the possibility that the armed (self appointed) militia presence could spread.
This brings an important and unfortunate reality to light, even as today marked the first arrest of the standoff/occupation. It is unclear to law enforcement, both Federal and local, who they can trust. Sheriff Ward asked Sheriff Palmer if he’d come and shame Bundy and followers into leaving and Palmer refused and expressed sympathy with Bundy’s goals. Bundy is on record that he has either reached out to sheriffs and other officials in neighboring counties or they’ve reached out to him. This makes any law enforcement action even more precarious. When you don’t know if you can even call for back up, let alone whether that back up might turn coat and target you instead of the actual law breakers, you’re going to proceed very, very cautiously.