PORTLAND, OR -- In the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trial, the refuge manager testified Thursday about how he feared for his employees' safety. Chad Karges said he became concerned for himself and his 16 part time employees after the New Year, when he heard about demonstrations in Burns against the arson sentence for local ranchers Steve and Dwight Hammond.
He ordered the headquarters building shut down. Shortly after that, Ammon Bundy and several demonstrators took over the refuge. The protest grew to eventually include government overreach, where farm land was taken to create the refuge. Prosecutors are trying to prove the seven defendants conspired to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs at the facility.
As the trial continues inside the Federal Courthouse in Portland, demonstrations are taking place outside. Jason Patrick is one of the occupiers who faces a separate trial. "There’s a lot at stake. Your rights are at stake; public land issues are at stake; federal overreach is at stake."
Steve Putnam traveled from Pasco, WA to watch the trial. "I think it’s going to start making people think about what is the government actually doing to the people. The people are losing their rights and they do not understand that yet, until it happens to them."