Longtime Oregon Cattlemen’s Assn. (OCA) members and Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond left their homes Jan. 4 to report to a federal prison to serve additional time for burning Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.
Calling the re-sentencing of the Hammonds a “classic case of double jeopardy,” OCA is calling for clemency and said it will continue to support the ranchers via avenues that are in accordance with the law. The association is circulating an online petition asking the White House to review the Hammond’s case.
At the same time, OCA has declared that it does not support illegal activity taken against the government in regard to the situation. Self-described militia members, led by Ammon Bundy, who took part in the 2014 armed standoff at the Nevada ranch of his father, Cliven Bundy, over the family’s non-payment of federal grazing fees, took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters during the New Year’s holiday weekend. The younger Bundy and fellow believers arrived in Burns, Ore., vowing to “support” the Hammonds. The militia members reportedly have few, if any, ties to the case or local area.
John O’Keeffe, current president of OCA, said the ranchers in Burns strive to work together with surrounding agencies. “The community of Burns and the ranchers there have been very resourceful in working together with agencies on many wildlife issues,” he said. “Furthermore, OCA does not support illegal activity taken against the government. This includes militia takeover of government property, such as the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.”
OCA executive director Jerome Rosa pointed out that OCA has supported the Hammonds for some time and does not agree with their current re-sentencing. “OCA feels the Hammond’s situation is a classic case of double jeopardy. The Hammonds were tried and convicted by a jury of their peers and have already served their sentence,” Rosa said.
Although the Hammonds have already been sentenced to additional prison time, OCA continues to work to find ways to support them. O’Keeffe mentioned several legal ways the organization is working to provide assistance. “We are circulating an online petition asking the White House to review the Hammonds' case.” A link to the petition can be found on the OCA website or on its social media channels. “In addition to clemency efforts, we are working through legal avenues to help the Hammonds get their BLM grazing permits restored,” said O’Keeffe.
OCA was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry and protect its industry communities and private property rights.