By Sheriff Richard Mack
On January 2, 2016, four of us representing the CSPOA attended the rally in Burns, OR on behalf of the Hammond family. It was an extremely frigid day and being outside was not fun or the least bit comfortable. But the cause we were there to support was worth enduring the inclement weather, so we persevered.
We met at the Safeway parking lot and after a few instructions about where we would be heading, we all started the march. The crowd was estimated at approximately 6oo people. As we marched up the street towards the sheriff's office, the crowd completely filled the street from side to side for over 2½ blocks. It was inspiring!
There were never any signs or chants supporting any kind of violence. The large majority of the protesters were not armed. We stopped briefly by the sheriffs office and threw hundreds of pennies on the walk at the office front door. Many said the pennies represented a "sellout" by the Harney County Sheriff for not stopping the impending arrest of Dwight and Steve Hammond. There was no question that the Hammonds' rights have been violated by the Federal Government, however, the Hammonds did not want an armed confrontation or violence of any kind. This coincides exactly with the CSPOA platform, so we went there in complete support of the Hammonds and their peaceful approach.
After we passed the sheriff's office we went to the home of Susan and Dwight Hammond. They came outside and waved as numerous protesters laid flowers on their doorstep. A few of us spoke briefly with the Hammonds and offered our support and apologies for what they were going through. They were very gracious.
Then suddenly, and with no announcement to do so, the crowd broke out singing, "Amazing Grace." Yes this group of "radicals and extremists" as the media has often called them, did a "radical" performance of "Amazing Grace."
As we headed down the road, Dwight Hammond - who has been sentenced to an additional five years for a crime he has served time for and paid all subsequent fines for - yelled to the crowd, "This is not about me, this is about our country."
Yes, this is about our country, our liberty, and our sacred Constitution. This is about federal agents who have done the same thing the Hammonds have been charged with and for which they have received no punishment whatsoever. How many times in America have federal officers burned up forests and neighborhoods due to their "controlled burns" ending up out of control?
But the Hammonds have conducted themselves with class and humility. They have exemplified strength, courage, and dignity. We should emulate their patriotic and peaceful spirit and stand with them as they go through this unspeakable federal victimization.
We should allow nothing to detract from the Hammonds' plight and the wonderful rally that was held in their honor. The Hammonds had tears in their eyes as they viewed the huge crowd of well-wishers and thanked each of us for our support. Thus, for the record, CSPOA does not support or condone the occupation by those individuals who have taken over the Federal Wildlife building just outside Burns, Oregon. With all our hearts we appeal to all those occupying the Federal facility to immediately vacate the building and to go home to their families!
Local officials including the Harney County Sheriff are still working for a peaceful resolution on the Hammonds' behalf. We will continue to work and pray for their success.