The FBI negotiated with four armed occupants of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon Saturday, to ease tensions after the group's spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed in a standoff between federal agents and protesters this week.
The remaining four protesters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge expressed their reluctance to leave and their mistrust of the government in a video released Friday. The darkly lit video shows one of them asking the government that he be allowed to walk out of the refuge without facing arrest. Others with him expressed similar sentiments.
"Negotiations are ongoing," FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said, declining to give details on the talks or comment on the video, according to Reuters.
The group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, was arrested along with seven other people Wednesday. Since the arrests and Finicum’s death, the FBI has arrested at least three more protesters who have left the property on their own.
Following his arrest, Bundy had encouraged the remaining occupiers to leave the wildlife center, speaking through his attorney. "Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts," he reportedly said.
Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and some 150 armed ranchers had occupied the wildlife refuge on Jan. 2 to demand the release of two fellow ranchers and to petition the government to relinquish federal lands for state or public use. The group also complained about excessive federal rules governing grazing and mining rights across the West.
Meanwhile, supporters of the armed movement staged a rally in the nearby ranching community of Burns Saturday night. Waving U.S. Confederate flags, about 30 pickup trucks passed by the courthouse, while protestors yelled "murderer" and "FBI go home," Reuters reported.
Occupiers are facing a felony charge for conspiracy to violently impede officers of the U.S. government from carrying out their duties. A federal judge denied bond for Ammon Bundy Friday saying that he posed a threat to the community because of his role in the armed resistance against the federal government.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman told Bundy Friday that she would release the occupants only if the standoff ends.
"By its very nature, this offense demonstrates a remarkable inability on the part of all charged defendants to follow the law and thus comply with the terms of court-ordered supervision," the court’s Friday memorandum in support of the detention reportedly read.