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Oregon governor: Refuge takeover 'intolerable', costing taxpayers $100K per week

By Ed Adamczyk and Doug G. Ware   |   Updated Jan. 20, 2016 at 8:14 PM
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HARNEY COUNTY, Ore., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The governor of Oregon on Wednesday expressed further disdain for the small militia that's occupied a federal bird sanctuary in the southern part of the state for two and-a-half weeks now.

Gov. Kate Brown called the group's occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County "intolerable" and criticized federal authorities' handling of the takeover.

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The militia, led by Ammon Bundy, has been holed up on the federal land for 19 days and has refused numerous orders to leave.

"This spectacle of lawlessness must end," Brown said. "This situation is absolutely intolerable and it must be resolved immediately."

The governor made the remarks during a news conference Wednesday, in which she outlined a general agenda for 2016.

Part of Brown's contempt for the militia group stems from the fact, she said, that it's costing local taxpayers about $100,000 for every week it goes unresolved. During the conference, she advised state officials to "scrub" the submitted budget for next month to offset the costs of the ongoing standoff, The Oregonian reported.

Earlier Wednesday, hundreds who oppose the group demonstrated in Portland. Tuesday night, local residents attended a community meeting and expressed frustration and anger over the continuing ordeal.

Surprisingly, Bundy and about a dozen other occupiers attended the meeting. While he did not speak, the majority in attendance indicated that theyfelt the group had overstayed its welcome.

"I agree with you 100 percent, but get out of my yard," an unidentified audience member told Bundy. Another said, to applause. "How dare you come here into our school? Go home and I hope you get arrested on the way there!"

Harney County, Ore., Judge Steve Grasty, pointed at Bundy and shouted, "It's time for you to go home."

"These lands belong all of us. What this is, is an armed, criminal political occupation of public lands. That should offend everybody," said Bob Sallinger of the Audubon Society of Portland, one of the groups organizing the demonstration. "Number two, they're destroying public property. I mean they're literally stealing from the public when they go in and take down fences and they destroy habitat and they break into buildings."

Another protest was held in Bend, Ore., organized by the Bitterbrush Broadband, the local chapter of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness. In a tongue-in-cheek demonstration, the group, comprised largely of female senior citizens with an interest in nature and public lands, waved kitchen tools as they marched. One said, "It's time for the bullies to go home!"

She was corrected by another demonstrator, who said, "Don't go home, go to jail!"

Also Wednesday, two Oregon brothers announced that they had raised more than $50,000 on a crowdfunding website. Their initiative is called G.O.H.O.M.E. -- an acronym for Getting the Occupiers of Historic Oregon Malheur Evicted.

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