A transcript of Ammon Bundy’s remarks to reporters on day one of the armed militia takeover of a building on the Malheur Wildlife reserve in Harney County, Ore. Transcribed from video footage on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page. Click here to read a commentary on the incident by Solomon Jones on Newsworks.org
Reporter: Why are you out here?
Ammon Bundy: We’re out here because the people have been abused long enough really. Their lands and their resources have been taken from them to the point where it’s putting them literally in poverty. This facility here has been a tool in doing that. It is the people’s facility, owned by the people, and it has been provided for us to be able to come together and unite in making a hard stand against this overreach, this taking of the people’s land and resources.
Reporter: And so the rally here today was part of that, of course. But did you feel that that did not go far enough? That didn’t accomplish what you wanted it to accomplish?
Ammon Bundy: I felt that it was a great rally, it did accomplished what rallies do accomplish, but I feel that we’re in a situation where if we do not do something, if we do not make a hard stand that we will be in a position where we won’t be able to as a people. And so that’s why we’re here.
Reporter: How long are you prepared to stay here?
Ammon Bundy: We’re prepared to be out here for as long as needs be.
Reporter: When will that be? When will your demands be met?
Ammon Bundy: When the people of Harney County can use the land and resources without being put in fear. And without being restricted to the point that it puts them out of business. And once they can use these lands as free men then we will have accomplished what we’ve come to accomplish and there will be no need for us to be here. We’ll go back to our families and back to our occupations and back to our homes.
Reporter: Does this relate the Hammonds?
Ammon Bundy: It does, because, I mean, in one sense, the Hammonds are just an example or a symptom of a very huge, egregious problem. But it’s happening all across the United States. We have the EPA that is taking properties away from American people. They are restricting whole industries. Putting whole states and counties into economic depressions. We have a slew of other federal agencies that are doing the exact same thing. And they’re doing it by controlling the land and the resources, because they know where wealth generates from. Wealth generates from the Earth—from the land and the resources. And so if they can control them then they can be the beneficiaries of them and the American people have to basically beg them for whatever they give them. And that is what this is about.
Reporter: Are you calling for more people to come up?
Ammon Bundy: Absolutely. For those that understand what is going on and those who want to and feel a need to stand, we’re asking them to come. We have a facility that we can house them in. We have plenty work to do to start to unwind all of these unconstitutional land transactions and controls to … and we have plenty work to do. We need you to come and be unified with us so we can be protected and can be together. And we’re calling people to come, absolutely.
Reporter: And so what would you say to law enforcement agencies potentially trying to kick you off here?
Ammon Bundy: Well, we pose no threat to anybody. There’s no person that is physically harmed by what we are doing. This facility is owned by the people and so if they come to bring physical harm to us then they will be doing it only because of a facility—or a building. And I don’t believe that that warrants killing people or trying to basically stop people from expressing their rights and doing what they know is right.
Reporter: You’re prepared to stay here for as long as it takes?
Ammon Bundy: As long as it takes, yep.
Reporter: Has any official word been given from wildlife management or any of the federal authorities.
Ammon Bundy: No we haven’t heard from any of them. We hope they’re home with their families, if they have families. We intend them no harm. We know that many of those employees at one time were working for ranchers or as ranchers and loggers, and they were forced to leave those industries that many of them had for many generations. And they were forced to leave them and go find a government job. And now Harney County, the US government is the highest employer in the county. Seventy-three percent of the land in Harney County is controlled by the federal government. And we just cannot have that. The people cannot survive without their land and resources. I’m grateful that I have these gloves. But these gloves came from the land. I’m grateful to have this coat. But this coat comes from the land. All comfort all wealth everything that we have as a people that we use to live to eat to find comfort comes from the Earth and we cannot have the government restricting the use of that to the point where it puts us in poverty. We just cannot.
Reporter: I talked to a bunch of people today in Barnes and it’s quite the controversy in town. There’s people welcome you guys, some people against it. Some people are scared, saying people are walking around wearing guns. Are you insisting that you are here for peaceful …
Ammon Bundy: Absolutely. We’re here for the people of Harney County. I mean it might take a little bit for people to realize that but we are here for them. We are here with them, because of what has happened to them.
Click here to read a commentary on the incident by Solomon Jones on Newsworks.org
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon.