A UO geographer looks back on Malheur occupation

Crowd of protestors with signs supporting law enforcement

University of Oregon geographer Peter Walker was sitting in a packed high school gymnasium during a 2016 town meeting in Burns, Oregon, when a group of men marched in with loaded handguns openly displayed.

A hushed silence washed over the crammed room as the well-armed latecomers slowly spread out to every corner of the building.

“I realized they were tactically positioning themselves for a firefight,” says Walker, who was attending the meeting for his research on the Ammon Bundy-led occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The men were among the militants who had seized the refuge in their quest to return that swath of federal land to local ownership.

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