The leader of the month-long armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon urged remaining protesters on Wednesday to leave the site and go home, a day after his arrest and the death of a supporter.
“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. … Please go home,” Ammon Bundy said in a statement through his attorney read to the media following a court hearing.
One protester who remained at the refuge following Bundy’s arrest on Tuesday told Reuters by phone that some of the protesters were leaving the refuge through checkpoints set up by authorities, but rejected the word “surrender.”
“I don’t know what surrendering looks like,” Jason Patrick said. “They’re walking through the checkpoint and going home. That’s what I’ve heard unless I’m being lied to.”
Patrick added: “It’s getting emptier over time, some people leaving, some people still there holding onto what they’re holding onto.”
Law enforcement surrounded the refuge and blocked off access roads on Tuesday evening, after Bundy and his group were taken into custody at a traffic stop along Highway 395.
Citing the investigation, authorities declined to say what led to the fatal shooting of one member of Bundy’s group, identified by activists as Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers. Bundy’s brother, Ryan, was wounded in the incident.
The arrested protesters were each charged in U.S. District Court in Portland with conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties.
During a brief hearing on Wednesday afternoon, the defendants were ordered held without bail until a detention hearing set for Friday.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Daniel Wallis in Denver, Dan Cook in Portland, Jonathan Allen, Melissa Fares, Amy Tennery and Ed Tobin in New York and Andy Sullivan and Julia Edwards in Washington Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)