Law enforcement and public officials involved with the illegal occupation of a wildlife refuge by antigovernment extremists have been targets of a “cascade of threats,” two Oregon media outlets report.
“We're going to shoot to kill,” one anonymous caller told the office of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown the day after Robert LaVoy Finicum was fatally shot on Jan. 26 at a police roadblock north of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Oregonian reported.
In a similar piece, Oregon Public Broadcasting said one social media post urged other extremists to “kill cops because they are cops, if for no other reason. Just walk up asking for directions and shoot them in the [expletive] face.”
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, in Bend, Ore, which investigated Finicum's death, last week released redacted samples of threats received by various public officials and law enforcement. Some of the threats came from people who appeared to use their real names, but many threats were anonymous.
The man who called the Oregon governor’s office on Feb. 29 said he was ready to “shoot to kill.”
“Yeah, Kate Brown authorizing federal agents to use deadly force,” the caller said. “F--- you. You’d better watch your back, b----.”
Another caller said: “Give me liberty or give me death. If it’s going to be death, you’re going to need a lot of bullets.”
And another: “We’re coming to Oregon. You’re corrupt. Your government’s corrupt and you murdered an innocent man. Shame on you. We’re gonna shut you down.”
The sampling, released in response to a public records request, also showed the Bureau of Land Management has received threats.
On Feb. 26, the BLM’s regional office in Salt Lake City spotted a Facebook posting appearing to demand the release of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, who face indictments in Oregon and Nevada. That poster demanded the issuance of “arrest warrants for FBI agents and their ‘partners,’ most notably the nastiest w---- in Oregon, Kate Brown, for the murder of LaVoy Finicum and false arrests of all the other protesters.”
If those demands weren’t met, the poster said: “I AM GOING TO BEGIN RETURNING FIRE!!!!!! I CANNOT SITE QUIETLY WHEN WAR AND LIES ARE BEING LEVIED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!
In another threat received on Feb. 11, the day the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended, a caller told the Oregon State Police there would be a “Quran burning at the refuge” and another at the home of the OSP officer who fatally shot Finicum. The name of that officer and those of FBI Hostage Rescue Team operators involved in the roadblock shooting have not been released.
Harney County Sheriff David Ward, who rebuffed the occupiers’ demand that he act as a “constitutional sheriff” and attempt to block the surrenders of two ranchers in the days before the refuge occupation, also has been the target of threats.
After the occupation ended, a man who apparently lives in New York posted a photo of the Oregon sheriff on Facebook with this comment: “He is still alive? What’s his address? Seriously.”
The release of the list of threats shows that despite the end of the 41-day occupation, antigovernment chatter has continued. Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman in Portland, said the matter was being investigated.
"The FBI knows of several threats received as a result of our response to the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge," Steele told Hatewatch. "Although we don't typically comment on what is being investigated, I can tell you that we do take any threat seriously. We work to ensure that any threat is evaluated and addressed as necessary."
Only one person has been arrested in connection with making threats related to the refuge occupation.
Scott A. Willingham, a 49-year-old unemployed musician from Colorado, was arrested March 16 in Mount Vernon, Ore., after he allegedly made threats to “start shooting federal law enforcement officers.” He was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and second-degree disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.