Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) on Wednesday characterized the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge in protest of additional jail sentences for a pair of local ranchers as “civil disobedience,” The Hill reported.
Labrador had previously come down on the side of the law when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy refused to pay a fine for letting his animals graze on federal land, leading to a standoff with federal agents in 2014. At the time, Labrador said Bundy should’ve paid the fees.
But Cliven’s son, Ammon Bundy, is now leading a group of armed militiamen who’ve taken over the isolated Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy had recently moved to Idaho, the state Labrador represents, from Arizona.
At an event on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, Labrador didn’t condemn Bundy’s cause. He even went as far as calling the re-sentencing of the ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, “unjust,” according to the report.
“They’re trying to express their frustration,” Labrador said of the militiamen, as quoted by The Hill. “And I think civil disobedience has been something that for the most part the liberal media used to stand up for. But apparently there’s some exceptions to that.”
Labrador added that the group was frustrated about land that’s been taken over by the federal government and thought that government officials weren’t listening anymore.
“And that’s what leads to what so far has been a peaceful takeover of an abandoned building, by the way,” he said, as quoted by The Hill.