BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — One day after members of the Pacific Patriots Network demanded the resignation of the elected officials of Harney County “within 72 hours,” Judge Steve Grasty said neither he nor any other official is going anywhere.
“This isn’t a valid petition in any sense of the law that I understand,” Grasty told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday. “That request won’t be honored.”
The letter delivered by Brandon Curtiss of the PPN demands not only the elected officials resign but that FBI agents and equipment be removed.
“Mr. Curtiss said it was 200 signatures. What was delivered to us has lines for 150 signatures and it 118 signatures on them,” the judge said. We think we can identify 111 of those as maybe Harney County folks.”
Grasty said the county doesn’t have the authority to remove the FBI from federal lands and the recommendation of using a federal negotiator is being followed.
The letter also demands the officers involved in the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum be detained. Grasty said the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office — not Harney County — is handling the investigation.
Cliven Bundy enters the picture
KOIN 6 News obtained a copy of the certified letter Cliven Bundy — Ammon and Ryan Bundy’s father — sent to Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, Gov. Kate Brown and President Barack Obama stating:
“We the people of Harney County and the United States do give notice that we will retain possession of the Harney County Resource Center.”
Grasty said Cliven Bundy tweeted the letter to him personally.
“Last night I got a tweet with a copy of the letter in it from Mr. Cliven Bundy. I looked at that and wondered what does that mean? Perhaps he thinks he owns the refuge. I don’t think that’s the case.”
The “Harney County Resource Center” is the name the militia gave to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Cliven Bundy lives in Bunkerville, Nevada, an unincorporated town in Clark County.
“I think he undermined any of the legal actions his son, sons and others are doing to get released,” Grasty told KOIN 6 News.
From jail, Ammon Bundy called for the 4 remaining militants at the Malheur Refuge to leave. But Cliven Bundy — who led an armed standoff with the government in 2014 over grazing rights — wants them to stay.
Those occupiers — Sean and Sandy Anderson, David Fry and Jeff Banta — stayed put at the refuge. Fry noted they heard “from Cliven Bundy, he’s telling people to keep going and keep fighting.”
The armed occupiers overtook the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2. Ammon and Ryan Bundy plus 9 others were arrested last week and face federal charges.