Trump pardon for Oregon ranchers who inspired refuge standoff

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 10, 2018

President Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to OR ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr., and his son Steven - whose case spurred armed militants led by Ammon Bundy to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 41 days in 2016.

Two imprisoned ranchers who were convicted of intentionally setting fires in 2012 on public land in OR will be freed after President Donald Trump pardoned them on Tuesday. One hundred acres of public land were burned, according to The Washington Post.

The father and son were convicted in 2012 of intentionally and maliciously setting fires on public lands.

"The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds' responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges", the statement said.

Bundy's militia, which included people from as far away as Arizona and MI, seized the headquarters of refuge as part of a long-running dispute over federal control of public lands in western US.

Their imprisonment inspired a Bundy-led militia to undertake an armed occupation of an OR wildlife refuge to protest the federal government's restrictions on federal land use. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a key protester according to The Chicago Tribune, was fatally shot on January 26 by Oregon State Police.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday pardoned two cattle ranchers convicted of arson in a case that sparked the 2016 armed occupation of an OR national wildlife refuge, The Associated Press reported. Steven Hammond is 49 and has served approximately four years in prison.

"At the Hammonds" original sentencing, the judge noted that they are respected in the community and that imposing the mandatory minimum, 5-year prison sentence would "shock the conscience" and be "grossly disproportionate to the severity' of their conduct". However, in October 2015, a federal appeals court ordered them to be resentenced to the mandatory minimum. "Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency".

A US flag covers a sign at the entrance of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 3, 2016.

The Oregon Farm Bureau also released a statement on the pardons, thanking everyone who "worked to end the injustice done to Steven and Dwight Hammond".

The White House statement called the sentencing "unjust", adding that "the previous administration filed an overzealous appeal that result in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison".

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