An armed group that has occupied a wildlife refuge center in Oregon over grievances with the federal government has refused a sheriff’s request to leave and no more meetings are planned, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
The group, led by Ammon Bundy, declined Sheriff David Ward’s request during a meeting Thursday, but the sheriff planned to talk with the group again Friday.
“The people on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge made it clear that they have no intention of honoring the sheriff’s request to leave. Because of that, there are no planned meetings or calls at this time,” the Harney County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Friday afternoon.
The sheriff’s announcement came after Bundy told reporters Friday, “we’re not the least bit ashamed of our actions,” according to NBC affiliate KTVZ.
Ward “is keeping all options open” the statement said. The FBI is also involved, and has said it is working toward a peaceful resolution. There have been no arrests.
The group took over the headquarters at the wildlife refuge on Saturday following a protest over jail sentences imposed on two ranchers convicted of setting fires on government owned land.
Bundy has also said the group wants federally owned land turned over to local control. At a face-to-face meeting with Ward Thursday, Bundy said he and his compatriots were “being ignored again.”
Bundy is the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who faced off with the federal government in 2014 after agents tried to seize his cattle over more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. In the face of an armed demonstration and standoff, the agents stood down.
On Wednesday Ward said at a community meeting that the armed group should go home, and took exception to the fact that the occupiers are from outside of the area. He said they “hijacked” the protest over the ranchers.
“You don’t to come here from elsewhere and tell us how we’re going to live our lives,” Ward said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday said the armed protesters “need to decamp immediately and face the consequences.”