The small band of antigovernment protesters who took over a group of federal buildings in rural Oregon said Monday that they aimed “to restore and defend the Constitution,” in particular the rights of ranchers, and set off a national movement, forcing the federal government to release its hold on vast tracts of Western land.
The federal government, for its part, appeared content, for now, to monitor the situation and wait out the protesters, the New York Times reports.
The F.B.I. said in a statement that while state and local agencies would remain involved in the episode in rural Harney County, the bureau would take the lead. The law enforcement presence in the area appeared to be minimal, and no effort was made to keep the occupiers of buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from coming and going as they pleased.
“Due to safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved,” the F.B.I. said, “we will not be releasing any specifics with regards to the law enforcement response.”