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Bundy militants harassed locals for weeks ahead of standoff: ‘They’re not patriots — they’re thugs’

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Anti-government extremists are awaiting trial for their armed takeover of an Oregon nature preserve — but the local sheriff said the gun-toting outsiders started causing trouble from the moment they arrived, about two months earlier.

Sheriff David Ward took over law enforcement duties in Harney County on Jan. 2, 2015 — one year to the day when armed militants led by Ammon Bundy began occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve as part of a broader campaign to roll back federal control of public lands.

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Ward recounted his experience with the militants, many of whom are now jailed on a variety of felony counts in connection with the 41-day standoff, during a podcast interview with an eastern Washington sheriff, reported The Spokesman-Review.

“I’m sorry, folks — they’re not patriots, they’re thugs,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. “They are, in fact, the true tyranny.”

Ward knew little about Bundy, who’s now charged along with other family members in connection with an armed standoff in 2014 at his father’s Nevada ranch, until the Utah mechanic and other militants showed up in Burns and demanded a meeting Nov. 5 with the sheriff.

“It made me a little nervous about why these guys were in my community,” Ward said.

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Bundy and Ryan Payne, an Army veteran from Montana, said they’d come to protest the prison sentencing of two local ranchers who set fire on public land as part of their own ongoing dispute with federal authorities.

Ward said the out-of-staters demanded that the sheriff go along with their plans to challenge the feds — or else.

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Bundy came back Nov. 19 with 10 other men, most of them armed, and the militants posted other armed men outside Ward’s office.

The sheriff again told the militants that he would not support their plans because he said his duties included enforcement of court orders — which called for ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond to return to prison to finish serving their sentences.

Ward said the militants and their supporters then flooded his emergency dispatch center with so many complaints that dispatchers were unable to take 911 calls from locals, and he said the harassment didn’t stop there.

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More and more militants and their supporters started arriving after Thanksgiving — including Blaine Cooper and Jon Ritzheimer.

They followed Ward, his deputies and their family members around and drove slowly past their homes, and they bothered residents who put up signs or social media posts criticizing the outsiders.

Bundy and some local supporters set up a “committee of safety,” which was apparently intended to serve as a shadow government, and talked about arresting public officials who failed to support their armed demonstration.

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Ward said Cooper, who carried a lengthy felon record from Arizona, and Ritzheimer, a retired Marine who organized anti-Muslim rallies, stalked him and his family as they went Christmas shopping.

Ward, who served as an Army medic during combat overseas, said he didn’t like that so many of the militants lied about their military service, and he’s still upset that they put innocent civilians in danger.

“It was a very trying time,” Ward said. “I looked over my shoulder during that time more than I did in Afghanistan and Somalia.”

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Knezovich said the anti-government militants’ actions were appalling.

“True patriots don’t do that to other Americans,” he said.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Florida teacher removed after bizarre rant about students not standing for the pledge

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Students were faced with a white-board rant in a classroom attacking anyone not standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The moment went viral locally on Thursday after students posted Daniel Goodman‘s “inappropriate” message to students at First Coast High School in Duval County, Florida, The Atlanta Black Star reported.

“THINK: We had about a half million Americans die in our Civil War, which was largely to get rid of slavery. There are no longer separate water fountains and bathrooms in Jacksonville for ‘white’ and ‘colored,’ as Mr. Goodman remembers from the 1960?s. We had an amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing women the right to vote. We have had a Black president. The superintendent of Duval Schools is a Black woman. Mr. Fluent, our principal, replaced a Black man. Mr. Simmons, who now is a DC PS admninistrator.”

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Missouri official choose Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ for swearing-in ceremony instead of ‘The Bible’

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A Missouri county official is being both celebrated and attacked after a decision to forgo The Bible for her swearing-in ceremony and opted for a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos captured the story, posting a photo of St. Louis City Councilmember Kelli Dunaway's children holding a copy of the book while she took her oath of office.

This was the scene last week at the STLCO government center. Democrats took back control of the council and @DunawayKelli was sworn in on a copy of “Oh the Places you’ll go” with her children❤️ so proud to be part of #TeamKelli pic.twitter.com/iJ1dxfZ1Zg

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Trump predicts New York Times will go out of business when he’s out of office

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In a permission tweet, President Donald Trump announced that his presidency is the only thing keeping the New York Times in business. Yet, somehow, they're also attacking him and lying about him.

"The New York Times will be out of business soon after I leave office, hopefully in 6 years. They have Zero credibility and are losing a fortune, even now, especially after their massive unfunded liability. I'm fairly certain they'll endorse me just to keep it all going!" he tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1163238629730373632

Since taking office, subscriptions for The Times have increased dramatically. According to an August report, The Times boasted a 4.7 million increase in subscribers for the second quarter. Their revenue growth was 5.2 percent. It certainly is a modest increase, but it's also an increase in an era when newspapers are struggling to survive.

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