Armed militiamen seized a federal building in Oregon on Saturday, turning a relatively obscure local dispute into a bizarre national story that sparked a new round of protest about the way white militants are treated by the government and the media.

The militia, which one reporter said numbered no more than 12 people,took over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, OR.

The occupation was ostensibly in support of ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, an Oregon father and son who, after being imprisoned for setting fire to federal lands under a provision of a 1996 anti-terrorism law, were told that they may have to serve additional time.

According to The Oregonian, their case has become a symbol for anti-government militias protesting federal stewardship of natural lands. The group occupying the Oregon building includes children of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose armed standoff with the federal government.



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