Threat season has begun

The LA Times reports on threats made by supporters of Cliven Bundy and the Bundy gang.

In email, phone messages and Facebook posts, supporters have threatened retaliation for the mass arrests and the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 55, an Arizona rancher and spokesman for the Oregon refuge occupiers who was gunned down by state troopers during a roadside confrontation.

The messages target law enforcement officers and government officials, including Oregon’s governor, according to a sampling of threats released last week by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators gathered more than 80 threats as part of the office’s investigation into the Finicum shooting in neighboring Harney County.

“We’re going to shoot to kill,” said an anonymous caller to Gov. Kate Brown’s office on Jan. 27, the day after Finicum was killed on a rural highway north of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which occupiers held for 41 days. Another caller to Brown’s office warned, “You killed an unarmed rancher, so now one of you must die, unfortunately. Goodbye.”

Except of course the rancher wasn’t unarmed at all, and he was reaching for his gun when he was shot – but don’t let facts get in the way of a good threat.

Other local, state and federal agencies have collected similar messages, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which has a long-running dispute with Cliven Bundy over his Nevada cattle-grazing rights. This month, he and others — now in jail in Portland facing charges related to the Oregon refuge takeover — were also charged in Nevada for the 2014 armed standoff sparked by a dispute over Bundy’s failure to pay $1 million in federal grazing fees and penalties. Altogether, 26 people have been charged in Portland and 19 in Las Vegas, some of them in both cases.

Besides the 69-year-old patriarch, four of Bundy’s sons are also in federal custody — Ryan, Melvin, David and Ammon, one of the refuge occupation leaders. A threat sent to the BLM said that if Cliven Bundy and others were not released and indictments instead issued for federal agents and Gov. Brown, then “I am going to begin returning fire!!!!!!”

This is what’s called a sense of entitlement.

Facebook messages collected by investigators included threats to kill Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and a $1,000 reward offer for the “capture” of those who shot Finicum. The Oregonian reported that Facebook pages are also being used in an effort to identify the officers who shot Finicum. An online radio broadcaster purported to identify one trooper, and his name and home address then showed up on Facebook sites of Bundy supporters. Law enforcement sources said the named trooper had no role in Finicum’s death.

Oregon State Police and other agencies are investigating the threats, which could result in criminal charges. Some email authors won’t be hard to find — they included their names and addresses in their messages.

That’s the entitlement – they think they’re both justified and law-abiding.

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