'Teddy's turning in his grave'

Malheur acquittal handed down on Roosevelt's birthday
malheur wildlife refuge takeover
Mark Heckert, a sportsman from Washington, traveled to Oregon during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover in January to show his opposition to the movement (photo: Kris Millgate).

Garrett Vene Klasen has Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday in his calendar. He receives annual alerts for Teddy’s special day just like he does for his daughter’s birthday.

“If you’re an outdoors person, Roosevelt should be a central figure in your life,” says Vene Klasen, New Mexico Wildlife Federation executive director. “He created our lifestyle.”

Teddy’s birthday alert hit Vene Klasen’s phone October 27. Right day. Terrible timing. The expected notice arrived just as an unexpected verdict came out of Oregon. All seven people charged in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty.

“We would not have all these public lands today if it wasn’t for Roosevelt,” he says. “That’s what makes it even more offensive.”

The offense he’s referring to started January 2 when a clan of occupiers, including Ammon Bundy, took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. They claimed to be standing up for rancher’s rights, but said rancher didn’t want their support. They wanted federal land turned over to the county, but said county wasn’t rolling out the welcome wagon for them.

“I know that common people have been kicked out of here,” Duane Ehmer, standoff supporter on horseback told me when I arrived at Malheur January 11. “We’re standing up for our neighbors that ain’t got no voice in this community.”

Their stand, while visibly backed by firing power, was awkward in its delivery. The awkwardness amped up as the fog rolled in literally and figuratively. The weathered air was so thick when I was at Malheur that my lens had a hard time focusing on the few subjects I could see for my story: the frost-covered cattle, the frozen watchtower. The weather matched the situation. Foggy. I couldn’t clear the air with concise answers no matter how I phrased my questions.

Vene Klasen had the same problem. He traveled from New Mexico to Oregon in January to oppose the takeover in person. His face-to-face with a flag bearing Bundy supporter on horseback didn’t gleam results. Neither did Mark Heckert’s cardboard sign reading ‘Get the flock outta my wildlife refuge.’

“Part of the legacy that I hope to leave to my children are these lands and I see that going away,” says Heckert, a sportsmen from Washington. “So I gotta fight where I can and talk where I have to.”

Sportsmen made their presence known if for no other reason than to make sure the occupiers knew the whole nation didn’t support their public lands takeover. Weeks passed. The drama waned. Eventually, the Bundys weren’t allowed to squat on the refuge anymore and arrests were made. As expected, charges mounted. Regardless of their less than concise reasons for taking over Malheur, they were in trouble with the law.

And then they weren’t.

“My client was arrested in a government truck and he was acquitted of taking that truck,” Matthew Schindler, attorney for defendant Kenneth Medenbach told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s extraordinary, completely unprecedented, without a doubt the biggest loss for the federal government in the District of Oregon, ever.”

Medenbach and six other defendants were found not guilty in federal court October 27. Not guilty. Don’t glass over the ‘not’ because it’s the bombshell here.

malheur wildlife refuge takeover
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers, including Ammon Bundy, took over the refuge January 2 demanding federal land be turned over to the county (photo: Kris Millgate).

“We are profoundly disappointed,” says Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers president and CEO. “The jury’s decision flies in the face of the basic principal that America’s national wildlife refuges and other public lands belong to all Americans.”

If the reasons for ransacking a refuge seem confusing, imagine the brain twist behind letting the ransackers off the hook. Vene Klasen is dumbfounded.

“They broke so many laws. I don’t get it,” he says. “Those people belong in prison for a long time. They’re domestic terrorists. So many things could have and should have stuck.”

malheur wildlife refuge takeover
Garrett Vene Klasen, New Mexico Wildlife Federation executive director, questions Duane Ehmer, standoff supporter on horseback (photo: Kris Millgate).

But they didn’t stick so when Vene Klasen’s phone alerted him of Roosevelt’s birthday while he was trying to sort out Malheur’s surprise verdict, he was beside himself. Roosevelt, the poster boy for public lands, was having the date of his birth violated.

“That kind of verdict on Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday? God rest his soul,” Vene Klasen says. “It’s such a fuck you to Teddy.”


Theodore Roosevelt would have cheered the Bundy's on. He was one of the first Presidents to enact laws protecting average citizens. When Roosevelt was President we had no Federal Reserve, no military industrial complex and no Patriot Act. Our government has operated without impunity because it kept its citizens uninformed for years. The internet has taken the total control of information by governments and religions away and made it available to everyone. And now we know that as a nation, we have more citizens in prison per capita than any nation on earth, and that includes North Korea. We have been misinformed and misguided by a government controlled by corporations, special interest groups and secret influences unknown to the public. Violating the Constitution for the United States of America, our government illegally operates, using secret treaties, secret weapons, secret courts, secret executive actions, secret space program, secret bases, secret mind control experiments secret control of the main stream media and secret false flag operations. All of this is made possible with tax dollars from We the People, tax dollars paid to a federal reserve owned by international banks, not We the People. The Constitution guarantees our rights, exercise them or loose them.

And somehow absolutely none of that has anything to do with our public lands.

That's like saying childbirth has absolutely nothing to do with women. Everyone loves public lands and wildlife. But our government uses wildlife (spotted owl, sage grouse, desert tortoise) as a weapon to remove ranches or land owners from their property. So instead of American citizens working and living off the land, our government can sell the resources to pay for our 25+ trillion dollar deficit. And that deficit was created by 17 strait years of war that we never, ever see from our controlled main stream media. Have you ever noticed that no one in government is ever held accountable, but the poor citizen is hammered all the time. I spent a quarter of a century in the military and there is nothing, more important than the Constitution.

What a shame, then, that you have as little understanding of the US Constitution as do the Bundy Boys, having never read anything beyond their Cleon Skousen pocket version.

That's complete garbage to claim the man who created the NWR system would even tolerate, much less cheer a bunch of armed zealots like the Bundy thugs taking over a NWR that was meant for all of us to enjoy. Cheer a bunch of idiots desecrating sacred sites and purposely bulldozing wildlife habitat destroying it forever? No one should believe such utter nonsense as that.

And none of that is relevant to the misguided criminal actions of the Bundy Gang of domestic terrorists.

The attorneys that I know are blaming the prosecutors for this verdict. They could have had an open-and shut case on numerous charges, but instead they went for criminal conspiracy charges. To find them guilty of conspiracy, the jurors had to know the state of mind of the defendants to make an agreement with each other with the specific criminal intent to prevent the federal employees from doing their jobs. Instead, the defendants claimed that the law was on their side: they testified to their belief that they were freedom fighters, not criminals. Thus no criminal intent = no conspiracy to commit a CRIME = "not guilty" on that specific charge. And since the weapons charges were specific to their use in a crime, then with no CRIME they couldn't find them guilty on the weapons charge either.
The jurors were unhappy with the prosecution leaving them with no choice but to acquit. They would have much rather got them on many charges than conspiracy - - Sedition, for example.

A sad day for the rule of law.