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techkenyot.com September 19, 2018


Trump pardons OR ranchers who sparked occupation of wildlife refuge

11 July 2018, 06:22 | Glen Norman

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Trump pardons Oregon ranchers at center of 40-day standoff

The imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond prompted the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in OR in 2016, led by two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

The father-son duo are cattle ranchers and were convicted in 2012 of committing arson on federal lands in Oregon.

The federal pursuit of the Hammonds followed years of permit violations and unauthorized fires, and they never accepted responsibility, said Oregon's former U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.

Walden added that the Hammonds were "serving a mandatory minimum sentence that was established for terrorists" - referring to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which increased the penalties for using explosive or arson against federal property.

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The government won an appeal over the Hammonds' sentences in 2015, and the two men were resentenced to serve out the remaining years of a five-year minimum. "Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency".

The perceived unjust sentence for the Hammonds inspired Ammon Bundy to lead an armed standoff in early 2016, when a group of armed men broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Hogan instead sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months in prison and Steven Hammond to a year and one day. The Hammonds could have faced less than a year in prison under a plea offer they declined, she said. He also noted the jury acquitted them on most charges.

A full pardon grants broader absolution, which undercuts the dangerousness of setting fires and indicates that public land can be burned without outcome, Weiss said. The elder Hammond said he was trying to fend off invasive species.

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"I am not going to apply the mandatory minimum ... because, to me, to do so under the 8th Amendment would result in a sentence which is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses here", explained trial Judge Michael Hogan.

But they send a message that Trump also delivered with his previous pardon of lawless Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio: which is that when a certain kind of (white) frontier-justice renegade decides to defy the federal government, it's the offender, not the government, who gets the benefit of the doubt.

The Hammond family released a statement saying they agree with the White House that the appeal was "overzealous".

Prosecutors alleged in the indictment at the time that the Hammond family set fire to the rangeland after complaining the BLM was taking too long to complete required environmental studies before conducting controlled burn operations.

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Dwight Hammond Jr. greets protesters outside his home in Burns, Oregon on January 2, 2015. Another key occupier, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was fatally shot that day by Oregon State Police.



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