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Is Political Rhetoric To Blame For Oregon Takeover?


Critics of the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon are contending that political rhetoric coming from Congress has worsened the situation.

Jen Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, called on officials from all levels of government to condemn the armed occupation. She said that actions by certain politicians have only emboldened the occupiers.

“The rhetoric doesn’t help the situation and I think it’s really important to have elected officials speaking out about this,” Rokala said. “You had local elected officials from Washington state, Nevada and Idaho going in to meet with these armed militants who’ve taken over the wildlife refuge in Oregon. That’s not appropriate.”

Rokala said that the point of the petition is to call upon officials to condemn threats of violence against employees of federal land agencies. She said that civil discourse is needed to work out a solution.

“What it has done is highlight that there are definitely differences on public land management,” she said. “That being said, the majority of westerners are very much in favor of public lands and their support for public land agencies is very strong. I believe that this has highlighted, certainly, the need to have conversations around our disagreements but taking over a wildlife refuge is not a way to make that point.”

On Friday, the armed groups that are encamped at the wildlife refuge will announce their plans to leave the area.