BEND, OR -- Rain didn't stop a couple hundred people from showing support for public lands during a downtown Bend rally, Tuesday afternoon. The Riverfront Plaza event was the city's second rally in support of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the last five days, and took place at the same time as several others across the state.
Bend resident B.J. Thomas says she's frustrated with the ongoing occupation. "What the Bundy people are doing is wrong; it's anti-government. They have no clue what is going on at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. There's been a great collaboration there that's making everything work. And they're going to end up undoing it." She tells KBND News, "I wish it would end. The birds are going to start nesting, and they're not going to have a safe place to go."
Chris Gardner, with "Friends of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge," was also there. "This is one of the jewels of our refuge system. For them to be there and to spoil it is to dishonor a great American tradition of protecting our wildlife and the necessary habitat for it, in our most beautiful scenery." He adds, "These people are a direct assault on our democracy. Rosa Parks didn't sit on that bus with an assault rifle on her lap, yet she sparked a change in our whole culture. If they have that kind of support, then they can do it without their means. So, the means they're choosing are evidence of their weakness."
Speakers at the rally talked about the importance of these habitats, clean water and recreational opportunities. The event was organized by the Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Audubon Society.