Ballots Not Bullets Coalition Statement on Arrest of Ammon Bundy and Other Malheur Refuge Occupiers

Washington, DC—The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition, a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States, commends yesterday’s action by local, state, and federal law enforcement that resulted in the arrest of eight occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

FBI agents and the Oregon State Police intercepted several ringleaders of the occupation yesterday on Highway 395 around 4:25 p.m. The militants were headed to a meeting in the the town of John Day, about 100 miles from the refuge. The Oregonian is reporting that the militants resisted arrest, gunfire was exchanged, and two militants were hit—Ryan Bundy was injured and LaVoy Finicum was killed. According to driver Mark McConnell, who was detained and questioned at the scene (then released), Finicum became “emotional” and charged at law enforcement rather than surrendering.  All told, the following six militants were arrested at the scene: Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Ryan Waylen Payne, and Brian Cavalier.

Occupiers Pete Santilli and Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy were arrested shortly thereafter in Burns, Oregon. Jon Ritzheimer, who had left the refuge to visit his family at home, was arrested in Arizona.

All of the occupiers will face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats. The charge carries a maximum of six years in prison.

Reports also indicate that law enforcement has now surrounded the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and is controlling access into and out of the building.

“I’m saddened to see this standoff resulting in violence,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the Bundys and their followers showed up armed to the teeth and took over lands that belong to the American people. We hope and pray those remaining at the compound surrender peacefully and immediately. Southeastern Oregon deserves to return to a semblance of peace and civility.”

“The rule of law has little meaning unless our laws are actually enforced,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “We thank law enforcement for the dangerous work they do to ensure our safety and maintain the integrity of democratic institutions.”

“Guns and violence are never the answer,” said John Horning, executive director of WildEarth Guardians, “Our western political leaders must lead us to peaceful solutions and stem this creeping tide of violence towards federal land managers.”

Members of the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition are available to talk to the media, to include discussion about how insurrectionist violence is impacting their own advocacy. Contact Ladd Everitt at or (202) 701-7171 with requests.


The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition is a group of organizations that are concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States. The coalition believes that there is no legitimate role for political violence under our Constitution.

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