Oregon occupiers: militants, occupiers or terrorists?

Savon Gray [email protected]

On Jan. 3, a group of armed “patriots,” led by Ammon Bundy, broke into a federally owned wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon. Bundy is the son of Cliven Bundy, who led a standoff against the government in 2014. 

This situation stems from the arrests and sentencing of two ranchers in Oregon. Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steve Hammond were convicted of federal arson charges after setting multiple fires on federally owned land near their ranch.

What do these men want? They have been vague, but they have named at least these two simple requests: give the wildlife refuge back to local farmers and release the Hammonds.

These men are obviously terrorists, right? The New York Times referred to these men as “armed activists” and “militiamen,” while the Washington Post chose “occupiers,” so maybe it is not so obvious.

If these men were of another race and had more melanin in their skin, the mainstream media would not be referring to the group as “occupiers.”

For example, if a group of Muslim men stormed a federal building and told the feds, “We won’t kill you guys if you don’t kill us,” one could only imagine what our country would be going through.

But this problem would likely be solved by now and many more people would be aware that the situation is even happening.

If a group of black men took over a court to protest the decision to not indict the officers who shot Tamir Rice just a few seconds after pulling up to him, these men would be described as thugs and animals and be vilified by the mainstream media.

Protestors in Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri and New York were often referred to as thugs and animals even though most protested peacefully and did not threaten violence. Police in military gear, the National Guard, and SWAT teams met these protestors.

The men in Oregon have seen none of those measures.

Does the level of fear go up if the men are of a different color? It must, because these men are not receiving the level of attention that men of other skin tones are, for much less, and sometimes no crime at all.

Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at school for bringing in a homemade clock, which school officials mistook for a bomb. Tamir Rice was shot for playing with a pellet gun in a public park, but these men are allowed to take over a federal building with no resistance.

No one met these men with anger or with hopes to kill them. The FBI wants to peacefully remove the occupiers.

Terrorism is defined by the FBI as, “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

If the men in Oregon were of a different skin color, the media would likely use “terrorists” to describe them.

Savon Gray is a journalism sophomore.

Email [email protected]