BEND, OR -- Several anti-government groups met in Bend over the weekend, before caravanning to Burns to participate in a Saturday march and protest in support of Dwight and Steven Hammond. Members of the Central Oregon Social Justice Center gathered in downtown Bend Saturday to oppose the groups. Rally organizer Greg Delgado says not speaking out could signal support. "As a community united, we’re just going to stand together and say we hold dignity and respect for all our community members. We’re not shooting to attack other people in the opposition or the other types of anti groups that are out there. We’re just trying to say our message loud and clear; that we’re a community united."
Delgado says those in the area don’t want the militia. "I’ve heard from the people in Harney County that they don’t want anything to do with this; and they guy actually burned some other property that didn’t belong to him. So, they’re pretty much in agreement that the guy did something and he should serve his time. But, these groups are trying to capitalize on it. And, the fact is, they’re coming to Bend and trying to capitalize on it saying it’s ok to organize and do those things here. And, we just wanted to let them know that this is not acceptable."
He says the militia groups are outsiders who came to Oregon to incite violence. "They’re basically saying that they’re going in there to defend the Constitution; that he [Steve Hammond] was tried as a terrorist and that he shouldn’t have; and that he shouldn’t be going to jail for burning grass. That’s what the opposition is saying. What we do know is that historically, these groups are linked to some pretty bad groups; we’re just trying to make sure people understand that. We’re not calling them hate groups; we’re saying we know they’re connected with some very radical things that could create some tension in our communities."
Lawyers for the Hammonds say the groups don’t represent the family, and the men plan to report to a federal facility as ordered.