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article imageOccupy Bundy: Camping couple hopes to annoy militia into leaving

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 20, 2016 in Politics
For over two weeks now, the extremists who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have frustrated authorities and Oregon residents alike.
Now, this couple hopes to annoy the militia until they can't take any more of it and leave.
Candy Henderson and her partner, identified only as "Jay" eschew sleeping inside, preferring to continually remain outside the refuge, but within the militia's gaze.
They sleep in tents to protect themselves from the bitter cold temperatures at the occupied wildlife refuge.
The Center for Biological Diversity has also been protesting the militia's takeover of the refuge, and Kieran Suckling, the Center's Executive Director, says the couple tells him they attend every event the armed occupiers stage, and that it's their intention to stay as long as the militants, led by Ammon Bundy, do.
On the center's Facebook page, Suckling wrote:
"They are here, they say, because our laws and public land deserve the dignity and protection of people standing up peacefully yet forcefully against those who would steal them at gunpoint," he wrote, then noted they have refused offers of shelter. "I love these people. We offered them a warm room at our hotel, but they declined, saying that the land needed people who love it to be present at all times."
Henderson is definitely a fighter — she's currently being treated for breast cancer and says she's still sore from recent surgery in which part of one breast and surrounding lymph nodes were removed, reports. In the next few weeks, she will undergo radiation treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
An avid hiker, she drove 400 miles from her Walla Walla, Washington home to take part in a counter-protest at the headquarters of the wildlife refuge.
"I hike in the public lands, and I camp, and I fish, and I don't want to lose that," she told KOUW. "If they're still here, holding the headquarters hostage, I'm going to come back after my treatment and stay here until they're gone."
"When they leave, I will leave."
The numbers of activists at the refuge have remained relatively small thus far, but more than 100 people attended a rally in Bend, Ore. last week to voice support for federally managed public lands. More protests are planned for Portland, Bend, and Eugene this week.
Henderson is one of a handful of hikers, birders, and environmentalists who have made their way to the refuge to protest Ammon Bundy and the rest of the men occupying it. The militia contends that the government has no right to own the refuge or other federally managed lands.
For many people, this sentiment rankles like a hair shirt. Some have taken action in some rather unorthodox, if hilarious ways — including, as Gawker notes — sending boxes of dildos.
Others have taken less colorful measures.
Fed up with Bundy's militia and their destructive ways, brothers Zach and Jake Klonoski launched a successful online campaign that's dedicated to groups that are strategically opposed to the militia movement, The Raw Story reports. The brothers plan to keep operating G.O.H.O.M.E. (Getting the Occupiers of Historic Oregon Malheur Evicted) until the extremists pack up and leave.
At this writing, their organization has managed to raise more than $43,000.
"The more pledges we get, the more pressure there is for them to leave," Zach Klonoski said. "Otherwise we're going to continue funding groups that they despise."
Beneficiaries of the funds include a gun control campaign, a local group that supports the wildlife refuge, an organization that says Bundy and his armed followers are extremists, and the Burns Paiute reservation.
The Portland Audubon Society has also stepped in. Its' members worry that the armed occupation will harm the refuge that the society has helped to protect for more than 100 years, reports.
Audubon conservation director Bob Sallinger noted in a statement that the occupation of the refuge by armed militia groups puts "one of America's most important wildlife refuges at risk." He added that it violates basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds public lands and public resources hostage "to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers."
To show support for the refuge and for public lands across the U.S., the Portland Audubon Society will hold a rally at noon on Tuesday. Other rallies will take place in Eugene, Bend, and La Grande.
While all this is going on, Henderson will still be camping in the snow, in her green tent at an RV park at the edge of the refuge, KUOW reports. She has a zero-degree sleeping bag, some food, and a small heater.
After spending her life training horses, she took up long distance hiking after she retired. She worries that the militia takeover of the refuge is part of broader effort to privatize public lands.
Suckling appears to echo that sentiment and said the Bundys are part of a larger movement around the American West that aims to turn over millions of acres of public lands to developers, loggers, mining companies, and other corporations.
But the protesters will hang in there.
Suckling takes his inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and on the famed civil rights leaders' birthday, he and others headed out to the refuge to celebrate. He noted that King had a deep understanding of how nature works and he understood that all life is connected.
"But we'll also peacefully confront the Bundy militia at the buildings and land they have taken from us all by armed force," he said. "We believe that is what Martin Luther King, Jr. would do. We must bear witness to this great injustice and show the militia thugs that America won't be scared away from its public lands by guns and threats."
As they do this, there will hopefully be a woman and her partner waiting for them.
More about bundy, ammon bundy, Militia, Wildlife refuge, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
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