The armed occupiers of a wildlife refuge in Oregon say they will turn themselves in on Thursday morning, hours after Cliven Bundy — the father of protest leader Ammon Bundy — was arrested by federal agents.
A Facebook page for his ranch announced that Cliven Bundy, who came to the national spotlight in a fight with the federal Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights for his cattle in 2014, was heading to Oregon earlier Wednesday.
“It’s time,” the post said. “Cliven Bundy is headed to the Harney County Resource Center in Burns Oregon.”
After landing in Portland, Oregon, Bundy was taken into federal custody, the FBI said.
It’s not clear what he’s been charged with. The FBI said authorities would make charging information available on Thursday morning.
Bundy’s son, Ammon, was one of the leaders of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He was arrested last month.
The refuge’s current occupiers said — during a purported live stream of a conference call between protesters, activists and conservative Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore — they were prepared to leave Thursday morning.
The audio was live streamed on YouTube.
Fiore told those on the call that Mike Arnold — Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, who Fiore says was in the car with her — spoke with the FBI. She said the agency promised it would stand down Wednesday night and allow her to be at the FBI checkpoint on Thursday morning when the occupiers turn themselves in.
CNN affiliates based in Portland are reporting that Fiore is on her way to the refuge.
When asked about the deal, Beth Anne Steele with the FBI told CNN that she was not able to comment.
The live stream started after the FBI surrounded those occupying the refuge.
According to the agency, one of the remaining occupiers rode outside barricades at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. When agents tried to approach him, he sped off back to the refuge.
After that, the FBI said agents “moved to contain the remaining occupiers by placing agents at barricades both immediately ahead of and behind the area where the occupiers are camping.”
The FBI said no shots were fired and it is continuing to negotiate with those inside the refuge.
“The FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully,” said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area.”
Four people are believed to be still occupying the refuge.
‘God has put us on this path’
Earlier on the call, the occupiers sounded concerned that the FBI planned to move in Wednesday night and that it would lead to their deaths. At times, they seemed to embrace that outcome as fatalistic.
When one woman — presumed to be Fiore — asked David and Sandy about their families, a man responded, “God has put us on this path. Our families are already taken care of; they weren’t in our lives much before all this because God made sure we didn’t have that to weigh us down so that we could do this,” one man said.
The people on the phone could be heard debating conditions for which they’d be willing to leave the refuge.
At one point late Wednesday night, more than 66,000 people were listening.
Wednesday marks day 40 of the occupation.
Ammon Bundy and others started out demonstrating against the sentencing of Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, ranchers who were convicted of arson on federal lands in Oregon.
But a January 2 march supporting the Hammonds led to the armed occupation of the refuge, with protesters decrying what they call government overreach when it comes to federal lands.
Bundy and other members of his group were arrested during an incident along a highway last month.
At the same time, law enforcement officers shot and killed LaVoy Finicum, one of the protest group’s most prominent members.