Oregon Ranchers Head to Prison, Mormon Church Condemns Occupation
BURNS, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon sheriff says the father-and-son ranchers convicted of setting fire to federal grazing land have reported to prison. Harney County Sheriff David Ward said Monday that Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond, turned themselves in at 1:37 p.m. and were at a federal correctional facility in California. He provided no other details. The Hammonds were convicted three years ago of starting fires that burned federal land in 2001 and 2006.
The men served their original sentences — three months for Dwight and one year for Steven. But an appeals court judge ruled the terms fell short of minimum sentences that require them to serve about four more years.
An armed group is occupying a remote Oregon wildlife preserve, saying the Hammonds were treated unfairly. Ward urged the group to disperse peacefully.
Some members of the group are Mormon and used scripture to defend their actions. That has prompted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to respond to the events in Oregon. The Mormon Church issued the following statement:
“While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. We are privileged to live in a nation where conflicts with government or private groups can — and should — be settled using peaceful means, according to the laws of the land.”