After 41 days, an armed standoff at a wildlife refuge in Oregon has ended. The last four anti-federalist militants turned themselves over to the custody of FBI agents after an emotional negotiation with them that lasted over an hour and was broadcast live on YouTube. David Fry, Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson, and Sandy Anderson, the last of the militants, have all now been taken into custody.
Anderson, Anderson, and Banta were the first to leave; Fry came an hour later, shouting about a lack of marijuana, “drone strikes in Pakistan, leaking nuclear plants, and ‘chemically mutating people.” The militants were taken by the FBI without incident. The group had been protesting the arrests of two Oregon ranchers for arson.
Fry proved the least willing to surrender, vacillating between thoughts of suicide and activism. “Fry said the government was refusing to listen to his grievances, which include the fact that he believes his tax dollars are funding abortions. At one point he said he had a gun to his head and was feeling suicidal; at other times, he said he needed promises of protection, and a way to control how his tax dollars were spent, before he turned himself in,” reports NPR.
Fry’s surrender, live-streamed on the internet, garnered 30,000 listeners. It was a fitting end for the militants’ endeavor, after five weeks of staying at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The militants believe that the federal government does not adhere to its own Constitution; they often referred to themselves as “patriots” or “Constitutionalists.”
The surrender was executed by Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and evangelical leader Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham. On Thursday morning as the group was preparing to negotiate, Fiore called for peace, and checked to make sure the occupiers had eaten breakfast and had water. Fiore encouraged them to “lead by example,” to “stay alive so they can tell their stories.”
No one was injured in the surrender, though fellow militant LaVoy Finicum, the other occupier who was shot and killed in an altercation with the police at the end of last month.