Oath Keepers Say They’ll Stand Down At Oregon Mine Because BLM Backed Off

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A group of armed constitutional activists providing security at an Oregon gold mine embroiled in a feud with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to stand down after the agency and the mine’s co-owners reached a detente, a spokeswoman for the group told TPM on Thursday.

Constitutional activists swarmed to the Sugar Pine Mine outside of Medford, Oregon last month after its co-owners asked a local chapter of the Oath Keepers to guard their property against a stop-work order from the BLM. The Oath Keepers are a loose-knit national organization of current and former law enforcement and military officers who pledge to defend the Constitution against government overreach.

An Interior Board of Land Appeals administrative judge issued a stay Wednesday forbidding the BLM to enforce the stop-work order, according to the Associated Press. The BLM did not oppose the stay, which stipulated that the miners were not to work the claim, according to the report.

Co-owner Rick Barclay told the AP that if the BLM complies with the stay, it would “de-escalate the situation for the time being.”

The Oath Keepers’ presence at the Sugar Pine Mine had recalled the heated Bundy Ranch standoff in April 2014. Armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy gathered en masse on Bundy’s property after the BLM began to seize his cattle as payment for years of unpaid grazing fees. The BLM ultimately abandoned the effort following an armed confrontation.

A spokeswoman for the Josephine County chapter of the Oath Keepers, which had been providing security at Barclay’s request, told TPM on Thursday that her group had begun to pull people away from the Sugar Pine Mine.

“We’re pretty much downgrading our operation, although we’re a local group so we’ll still be in the area even if we move out of that site for now,” spokeswoman Mary Emerick told TPM.

Emerick added that while her group would continue to monitor the situation at the Sugar Pine Mine, it also planned to take up the causes of other local property owners who had “pretty remarkable” issues with the BLM. She declined to elaborate on specific cases, however.

“We have quite a lot of them so we’ve spent some time vetting those to make sure they’re honest and documented situations,” she told TPM. “So we have some plans to take some actions related to that.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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