Local authorities released booking photos Wednesday of Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and six other members of an armed group occupying the Malheur Wildlife Center in Oregon, following their arrest Tuesday afternoon. The group, led by the Bundy brothers, were protesting the imprisonment of two fellow ranchers as well as petitioning the federal government to relinquish lands for grazing and logging use. One rancher, LaVoy Finicum, was reportedly killed by law enforcement during the ranchers’ arrest.
“They said ‘peaceful resolution,’ but now there is a dead cowboy,” Jason Patrick, one of the occupiers, told the New York Times, saying the FBI had been "hell-bent on war."
Photos released following the ranchers’ arrest show eight of the occupiers, including the Bundy brothers as well as one woman, identified as Shawna Cox. Ammon Bundy appears to be smiling in his mug shot.
— Brent Weisberg (@BrentKOIN) January 27, 2016
The controversy in the small town of Burns, Oregon, began almost a month before, when Bundy and a group of a few dozen ranchers occupied a federal building on the Malheur Wildlife Center. Two local ranchers were set to return to prison for a longer sentence following their conviction for burning federal lands. The ranchers claimed they had been burning brush to get rid of pests, while the prosecution countered that they were covering up evidence of poaching.
The Bundys and their compatriots took up the cause of the imprisoned ranchers, arguing that federal land should be relinquished for public use. The estimated number of occupiers has ranged greatly, with some news sources reporting 15 people and others reporting as high as 150, according to NPR.
The Bundy family is no stranger to controversy, and in 2014, Cliven and Ammon Bundy, as well as Ryan Bundy’s father, engaged in a standoff with the federal government. Cliven Bundy had stopped paying his grazing fees, arguing that the land did not rightly belong to the federal government. The Bureau of Land Management sued for more than 1 million dollars, and an armed standoff ensued after federal agents attempted to enter the family’s ranch.