Burns Chronicles No 4
Stand Up; Stand Down
Outpost of Freedom
February 7, 2016
On the morning of January 26, 2016, I traveled to the Harney County Resource Center (HCRC), formerly known as the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, from Burns. I had arranged to get the necessary information for some articles I intended to write.
When lunchtime came, I went to the mess hall. The Sharp Family had just begun with one of their songs, and I saw Ammon Bundy sitting with others at a corner table. I walked up and asked if I could sit at that table, and Ammon, graciously said, “Yes, please sit down.”
I had spoken with Ammon a number of times, in the months prior, though we had never met. As I introduced myself, I realized that he had been looking forward to our meeting, as I had.
We discussed the stories I intended to write, and he was fully supportive of the story lines, especially the one that would be about the people of Burns and their reactions to certain events, both in and out of town.
Before I left, the Sharps began another song. I had heard audio tapes of their singing during the Bundy Affair, but they didn’t compare to the live performance I heard that day.
After lunch, I located Ryan Payne. We had spent over a week together in November finishing a PowerPoint Presentation for Committees of Safety (CoS). This presentation had been used to explain the concept of CoS to some of the residents of Harney County. They then formed their own Harney County Committee of Safety.
I gave Ryan an inscribed copy of a biography of Robert E. Lee, which now still sits where he placed it. I had also forgotten to bring long johns, and needed some bottoms. Ryan went to the storeroom and retrieved a pair, explaining that they were from the delivery made through III Percent Patriots, just a few weeks before.
Both Ammon and Ryan had expressed their interest in the upcoming meeting at John Day, Grant County, and another meeting with Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer. Little did we know, then, what was soon to come.
I returned to my room in Burns and began writing. About an hour later, I received a phone call that reported that there had been a shooting and that LaVoy Finicum and Ryan (later to learn it was Ryan Bundy, not Ryan Payne) had been shot. About 15 minutes later, after some confirmation of the shooting, I headed back down to the HCRC. Realizing that most of the leadership at the HCRC was traveling to Grant County, and recognizing that it was imperative that some additional forces might be necessary to retain the public lands open to the public, I picked up my role of Public Relations for OMD. We had previously discussed and approved a call out to bolster the efforts at the HCRC. We felt there was time to prepare a call out, but suddenly, that call out became imperative.
I contacted my team (not a part of OMD, rather some wonderful, unpaid, people that assist me in research, audio/video editing, and other mundane tasks) and began dictating a call out, as I drove the thirty-three miles to the HCRC. Though not properly proofread, it was prepared and the remaining requirement was to get affirmation from those at the HCRC — that they wanted their forces supplemented.
Upon my arrival, I found a number of team leaders and other higher-level members discussing the shooting, the determination to hold their ground, and a refusal to accept orders from outside. It seems that a lot of people calling the individuals tried to talk them into abandoning their mission. I asked if they wanted a call out, and to a man, they said, “Yes”. So, I instructed my team to spread that dictated call out around the Internet. It was sent out at 7:56 PM PST, January 26, 2016:
From Gary Hunt, Outpost of Freedom in Burns, Oregon.
Attention all Oathkeepers, Idaho Three Percenters, Pacific Patriots Network, especially Brandon Curtis, Joe Rice, Eric Parker, and Stewart Rhodes.
This is a call-out to the membership of Operational Mutual Defense (OMD) and friends.
You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge), immediately, in order to protect the patriots still there. If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false.
To members of Operation Mutual Defense, this is an emergency. The purpose of Operation Mutual Defense is to respond to overbearing actions by the federal government that has become threatening to life, liberty, or property. Lavoy Finicum has been murdered by the FBI, and Ryan Payne [Bundy] has been shot.
They were en route to a meeting where had been invited by the Grant County sheriff to address the citizens in Grant County, a peaceful mission.
The time for all good men to come to the aid of their country has come — to the Harvey County Resource Center, which is 30 miles south of Burns, Oregon.
Stand by your oath. God Bless America.
You will note that it was directed at certain organizations present in Burns since January 2, or earlier. Though we didn’t know what the government’s next step would be, time was of the essence. There were a number of members of those organizations just 30 miles away, and they were absolutely necessary if the HCRC was to be held. They were present in order to discourage a “Waco type” raid, according to all of their public statements.
In my haste to get to the HCRC, I had failed to take my computer. I had mail lists that went to upwards of 800 people, and getting the call out to them was imperative. The “hot spot” at the refuge was no longer active, but efforts were being made to get it reestablished, so I opted to return to Burns to get my computer. When I returned to HCRC, I learned that women and children, as well as many of the men, especially from those organizations, had left. However, there was hope that they would soon be replaced by some of those who had been staying in town.
I had stopped at the bridge on Sodhouse Lane (the road to the HCRC) where a front-end loader had been placed on the bridge to prohibit traffic. Jason Patrick was there, as was a wonderful “young” lady named Barbara Berg. I found that the hotspot had not been restored, so I decided to wait in the press area (west of the bridge) and assist Jason in coordinating interviews with the various press. This task ended up going until about 7:45 the morning of the 27th.
Shortly before, a press crew had come in and said that a roadblock had been set up on SR 205, the direct route to Burns and the last of the available roads out from the area. They had been told that once you go out, you could not return.
At about 7:45, a lady from ABC called the press together and explained that she had received a call from the FBI. They had told her that there were “armed forces” on each side of us, and that the FBI could not provide for anyone’s safety, unless they left the area.
About that time, a friend called and said that she had been told that I would be assassinated when I left. I knew that the government did not like my writing, but I shrugged off the warning. However, that message remained in my mind and created a bit of apprehension.
I had intended to go to the Narrows (restaurant, store, and campground) about six miles west and cover what I could from there. Instead, I decided that I might be better off returning to Burns, though I was still a bit anxious about the message. I determined to place discretion ahead of valor, and return to Burns.
I asked one of the press members who I had spoken with, before, if I could leave with him so that there was someone present if the rumor were true. He said that he could not ethically do so, but informed me that he would be leaving shortly.
Most of the press proceeded to the Narrows, where he and I also went. When he was ready to leave, I pulled out behind him. At the stop sign, he remained conspicuously longer than necessary, so I pulled around him as he nodded at me.
As I approached the checkpoint, I saw that the woman in front of me had gotten out of her car, held up her hands, and walked toward the motioning agent. I was behind her about 50 feet, where the first stop was implemented. I removed my bulky jacket, not wanting to appear to have any place in which to hide weapons.
Finally, her car was driven forward by an agent, and I was motioned to the next stop. I arrived with head and hands out the window, except to the extent that I had to steer the truck. I then exited, walked across the road, then forward, hands raised, to the awaiting agent. I was patted down, asked my name, did I have weapons, and showed identification. He asked if I was press, I told him yes, he asked for my press credentials, I told him they were on the dashboard of my truck. Another agent verified that they were there.
Then, on to what was referred to as “Clearance #1”, where I was again questioned. By then, I was shivering; perhaps both from cold and apprehension, and the agent asked if I wanted a coat out of the truck. I affirmed, and as the agent drove my truck by, I was able to retrieve both coat and hat.
My truck, again, left me, and I was escorted up to “Clearance #2”, where I stood and talked with the agent. He was from the mid-west, and I asked him where he was staying. He said he had just arrived and immediately went on duty.
Finally, he received a report that I had passed clearance at #2, and I was allowed to go to my truck and drive up to “Clearance #3”.
At #3, I found that the agent was from “up north”, and had not stayed in Burns. So, it appears that they were deployed from their home bases directly to duty. This would explain why there were so few battle dressed agents staying in Burns or at the airport.
While waiting for my final clearance, the reporter behind me was passed through, drove around me and up the road. About 600 feet up, he stopped, and both he and his partner got out and took pictures, showing that I was still alive at Clearance #3, and the last of the checkpoints.
However, his passing me was a cause for apprehension. This was heightened when the next vehicle behind him was cleared and drove by me. I had been at #3 for almost twenty minutes, when I was finally cleared when he repeated what had been transmitted through his radio, “White hat is cleared”, and allowed to continue on toward Burns. A total of fifty minutes, filled with rising anxiety, and finally relief.
I had agreed to an interview with a reporter, in exchange for lunch, but first, I had to attend a press conference at eleven o’clock. After the press conference, we did the interview, and I returned to my room and a mountain of phone calls. After returning the calls, I was finally able to, after 34 hours, lie down and get some sleep.
When I awoke, I found that nobody had shown up at the HCRC to bolster the force, and even worse, that more had left. Concerned that many might be driving toward Burns, and not sure how long the few remaining there (down from the 8 or 9 that had been there at last report), I realized that circumstances, as they were, could not be improved by additional people arriving, with no place to report to, and the final door being shut. That 12-hour window when people could easily enter the area was closed. So a stand down was in order. I sent out the following at 9:21 PM PST January 27, 2016.
From Gary Hunt, Outpost of Freedom
In Burns, Oregon
Based on existing circumstance, support is too late, and would be dangerous, or at least result in your arrest if you attempted to get into the Refuge.
As I left the Refuge, this morning, troops were still arriving, according to those I talked with were arriving from various points as far east as Iowa, and further north. They appeared to have been staged at their home bases until they deployed directly to their field assignments. My estimate of perimeter troop strength would be 200-300, and one of these that I spoke with explained that he was “external perimeter”; they had even developed a protective perimeter concept, so that there were two lines that had to be overcome to gain entry.
At this point any effort to provide support for those inside by joining them would serve no useful purpose, and would be a fool’s errand.
OMD is currently working with others to establish a foundation upon which to build, so that the work begun in freeing public lands can be completed.