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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  January 4, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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racism's everywhere. segregation's immovable." he said, "i feel awful. i have a nightmare." i said, "doc, turn that around. try, 'i have a dream.' >> so really, it came from you. you were the "i have a dream" guy. >> i wouldn't say that. >> i wouldn't say that. ♪ a group of armed opinion has taken ore a federal building at a wildlife refuge in eastern oregon. they say they are prepared to hold the facility for years. the men are armed. some have told reporters they are prepared to kill and die for their cause. federal officers haven't simply run them off of the property. have the militia men proved when you have got a cause, being armed matters.
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armed politics. it's the inside story. ♪ welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. the last couple of years has highlighted people power around the world, marching, chanting, bringing their demands to the power 68. in hong kong, mexico, france, spain. in the united states, the country's at tension was commanded by hundreds of thousz who took to the streets of new york, washington, d.c., st. louis, chicago to shout their anger at the way american society devalued the lives of black citizens. in the state of oregon men organized by the bundy family seized a small obscure federal facility. the fact that the men are
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heavily armed appears to change the calculus around protests in ways that can't be exaggerated. police aren't telling them simply to go home or marching back into the building and pushing them out. joining me now, reporter carol mckinley, who has been covering the occupation of the federal building. she is in burns, oregon, the men came out with a briefing for reporters. do we have a better idea who they are, where they are from, and what they want? >> reporter: we really don't. they have a name now. we were struggling to figure out do we call this is a militia or group of occupiers. and they came up with a name. it's citizens for constitutional freedom. and what they say they want to do is restore and defend the constitution. really, ray, there are only
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about 20 of these men and women out there right now, and they have been calling for recruits. last night on youtube they got into a truck in this refuge about 30 miles from where i'm standing, and did a video saying we want patriots here, we need you. and if you don't come, that's going to be bloodshed. and that's the first time i had heard anything about blood since this started. >> so that means they are at least contemplating the fact that somebody might get into a physical confrontation with somebody. >> reporter: i think the police here and the sheriffs, and even the fbi who are here now are making sure that that doesn't happen. i was just talking to a police officer who told me that they are not going out there on purpose. there has been no law ens forment presence out at that refuge because they don't want inflame these people. >> what is the local reaction?
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from my understanding a lot of people have come from other places to make this stand in eastern oregon. what do the people in the count think? >> reporter: they don't like it. they don't like that it they have chosen this area to make their stand. and the reason they did it is kind of a long story, but i'm make it short. there is family called the h hammonds who had some burns, and the burns went over into blm land. and they were sentenced to prison. these people say they are here to support this family. the sheriff says that's a smoke screen. they want to take down local and federal government. that's what the sheriff says. who knows, but we're still
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watching. >> when the men came out to talk reporters earlier today, were they armed? >> reporter: yes, they were. we have seen lots of guns when they have their press cob for instances, most of them have guns. we know there are children inside. there are women inside. and, really, what they want to do, they say, is take away this federal land and give it back into private ownership. >> carol good to talk to you. armed politics, backing up political disputes with weapons. this time on the program, soaring rhetoric, involving liberty, freedom, personal soverei soverei sovereignty. but do hear someone talking about defending their liberties differently when they have a semiautomatic weapon slung over
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their back. these militia groups, groups of this kind, when they come into the public way armed and want to show that they are armed, is that symbolism? or do people end up sometimes getting shot? >> hi, ray. well, i think it's a combination of things. i think it's partly political theater on their part, and partly an idealogical tennant of theirs. they think it is part of their political philosophy, a right-wing decentralized political policy, and individual sillianss -- civilians who have weapons are going to be part of the new government they would like to set up in the country. >> is it an outgrowth that they have been oppressed as citizens? the federal government has been overbearing, unresponsive,
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really used its extensive power to push them around? >> they certainly believe it. they believe -- it's hard to say because we don't know exactly who is in the building or what their specific idealogical views are, but watching the people that organized the march in oregon, they probably believe we live under a tyrannical socialist government and they are taking the rights away from individuals especially ranchers and loggers. but what they mean in this specific case is they don't have unrestricted use of federal lands to conduct their business of ranching and mining on. so they may think they are being oppressed by the federal government, but it's not the kind of repression that people in the united states would see as repression. >> people may remember ryan and
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eman bundy from an earlier confrontation with federal authority around -- in nevada. in that case, by brandishing weapons, by talking openly about being willing to fight back, they met no force, in effect they may have felt they won that confrontation. why not do more of it? >> i think that's exactly what is going on. unfortunately, there's no written rule we know about this, but many people who monitor radical right-wing movements in the u.s. believe after several debacles in the early 1990s, the federal government decided if there were conflicts with armed white, radical white-wing paramill tears -- paramilitaries they weren't going to have a stand off with them. this is apparently a
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long-standing de facto strategy for the feds. i believe that is why nothing happened at the bundy ranch. there were not arrests or arrests afterwards, and this has emboldened people with these politics. they think they can drive forward by engaging in more occupations. here they are engaging in a pro-active armed occupation, and i believe that the federal government has engendered this problem, and held the door open for these folks, and now they are walking through it, and the pandora's box is going to open. >> is this a quantifiable increase in these number of these groups, who are willing to travel to set up these camps to defy the federal government? >> the southern property law center has said there has been a
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decline in the last year or two. after barack obama's election in 2008, there become new kinds of groups, like -- they just -- there was a big explosion of the number of groups in the u.s. in the last year or two they have declined. but what is happening in oregon, there is a very expensive organizing there as well as in the neighboring states, in particular idaho. there is a lot of activists, they are traveling around and looking for a flash point that they can establish an armed camp and create a conflict. this worked very well for them at the bundy ranch. they tried to repeat it in josephine county in the spring of last year. they tried it again in montana? another mining dispute. so now we're seeing they have latched on to the case of this family, and now a small group of
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traveling activists who are looking for conflicts that they can go and be part of to try to -- to spark a larger movement. >> stay with us, armed politics today on the program. it's inside story. >> we have allowed our federal government to step outside of the bounds of the constitution. they have come down on the people and are prosecuting them directly. they are coming down into the states and taking over the land and the resources, putting the people into duress, putting -- putting the people into poverty. and putting entire counties and entire states into unduo beadence.
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♪ you are watching "inside story," i'm ray suarez. earlier today, a group holding a federal building in oregon told reporters the group's name, citizens for constitutional freedom. that name is much like that of hundreds of political groups around the country, including many with similar aims, make the federal government smaller, less intrusive, less powerful. but when this as yet undetermined number of men and women take land that is part of a national wildlife refuge, announce their demands, what changes once they make it very clear they are armed and say they are willing to fight?
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back with me now spencer sunshine, also joining me john locke, president of the crime prevention research center, and josh horwitz, executive director of the coalition to stop gun violence. john locke, let me start with you, in a week where the president has announced he is going to use executive power to make a new set of orders regarding gun acquisition and ownership, does something like what is going on in oregon bring into even starker relief the way americans look at guns and their place in american life? >> yeah, i guess i don't see a big connection between the two. when the reporter mentioned the notion of bloodshed earlier, i think what these guys are trying to do is -- they want to be martyrs. they want the government to
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attack them. and the reason why they are asking for more people than i guess up to the 20 they have right now, is because they feel they will make more of a scene if they have a lot of people there, if the government were to attack. the government, though, unlike waco, or ruby ridge where the government went in and i think most agreed behaved improperly in those cases is in this case taking more responsible position that is just hands off. if you just ignore these guys for a while, they will eventually fade away. my guess is you are going to v the same type of thing as the bundy situation. but the president's rules he is talking about this week, don't have anything to do with this. they are not going to stop anything that's going to be there. it may make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns, but it's really unrelated
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to the type of case they are talking about here. the thing to do is just to ignore these people for a while and they will give up and go away. >> josh horwitz is that what they are doing, just to become martyrs or more to show their power and influence by attacking more people to come to a place like that and show they are stair down the federal government. >> i think they are trying to show that these guys who really believe that the second amendment gives them the power to take on the tyranny of the federal government in their world, i think they want to show they can do that over and over again. and the bundy ranch in nevada, they aimed at federal agents and got away with it. they are still -- ranching illegally on that land, and they want to show they can beat the federal government. in that land should be enjoyed by all sorts of different
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people, now it can't be. they are armed. it creates a very dangerous situation. and i think that what they are trying to do is show we won't be pushed around by the federal government by trying to empower this movement what i call domestic terrorists to join them, and to show they have the force of arms to change federal policy. >> at the outset of your first answer, john, you said you don't see the connection between the two, but just a couple of hours away from the wildlife refuge is portland, a place where they take a very different view of the role of the gun in their daily lives, who should have them, what they are for, the role they play in the country and the life of the country. >> right. well, look, just one response to josh first, and that is, look, these guys are breaking the law. they are going to be punished eventually, but wait until they go and give up this place, and
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then arrest them. don't go in. and it's hard to believe that they are not trying to be martyrs in this case. if you look at how they look at waco and ruby ridge, where the government set the fire at waco, and where the government opened fire on a woman holding a baby at ruby ridge. you know, they -- that type of kind of irresponsible action by the government has helped drive these guys. they look at those. they talk about these things. they want to try to be memori memorialized in a similar way. they don't want to be the ones who are going to look like the bad guys in this. >> that's exactly where i want to go next, and spencer sunshine i'll talk to you directly after the break. let's say you are a manager at the bureau of land management, or the president of the united states, after years of arguments over the extent of federal control of western land, armed men up the anti. can you allow an armed group of
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volunteers to flout federal authority if there seems to be little risk in doing so? can you hope they will get bored and no home, rather than risk the loss of life. armed politics. say with us, it's inside story. ♪
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♪ welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. we're looking at armed politics this time on the program. a group of men lead by the bundy brothers has occupied a federal wildlife refuge in oregon. they call themselves the citizens for constitutional freedom, and have demanded to see the evidence that put two ranchers behind bars for arson on leased federal land. this presents a challenge toe
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federal authorities in big and small ways, how should it, how should it end. josh horwitz is the preservation of life such a paramount authority here that you do hang back and just them go away? >> look, i think preserving life is paramount. i think we have to do that. but i think at the same time, we can't let these people just disappear like that did after the bundy ranch. i think it should be very clear that they are going to be punished. we should make it uncomfortable for them to be there right now. i think it's time that we cut off press conferences, they should be isolated. they shouldn't make this into a political theater. i predicted in my book these incidents would start to come in more frequencies, and while i don't want bloodshed, i think there has to be consequences for
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this, and that will mean at some point trying to move these people out of that building. spencer are other groups similar to this watching this around the country? >> yes, there are. there is a whole movement of paramilitary groups like this, have come out of a larger movement. many of the other groups have been for years screaming that we live under a tyrannical government and we need a second revolution. but the irresponsible rhetoric like some people have used that have helped create this situation, they want to distance themselves now, but they have created it. people think they can change the federal law by acting as self-appointed armed -- as the bundyes are the tip of the spear of this movement.
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>> can they be taken into custody without their being a violent confrontation with federal officials? >> sure. >> well, absolutely. the people at the justice township were taken into custody. there's a real question that we need to recognize first that the federal authorities would never act in a hands-off manner, if these are native americans, blacks, or radicals, we wouldn't have this hand's off perspective. >> john locke? >> i don't know where this guy is coming from, but if you look at standard police practices, this is pretty much how they handle these things now. if you -- unless you believe that there is actual danger to life within the building, let's say there are hostages, the police are not going to rush in. this notion that somehow the
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police would rush in and an identical situation if there's no hostages there, is ridiculous, and he can't point to examples where the police or the federal government would have behaved differently. because it's just not true. it's standard police practice what they are doing here. >> well -- >> it allows them to have press conferences and block roads and stuff like that. they have completely taken over this whole area. they don't want to have a siege and get people hurt. >> it is a rural area. >> it is a rural area. >> i think it's important, that i don't want to repeat waco, but at the same time there has to be consequences or this will keep happening. >> i want to thank my guests tonight. i'll be back in a moment with a
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look back at rural men taking up arms against the federal government. stay with us. it's inside story. ♪
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♪ the bible says there's nothing new under the sun. and when it comes to american history, you might be inclined to agree. we have been here before. in the 1790s when the infant united states was still struggling to pay its revolutionary war debts, the federal government raised taxes on distilled drinks like whiskey. the small farmers who hated the new tax, swore they wouldn't pay, burned down the tax collector's home and occupied the land. the president raised a small army, 13,000 strong and sent it west to restore order.
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he warned the rebels and their supporters against fighting the central government, telling them not to abet, aid, or comfort the insurgents, as they will answer the contrary at their peril. by the time the militia reached pennsylvania, the whiskey rebels fled. eventually 150 were arrested, two leaders tried, and found guilty of treason. it was a test for a new country, born in armed conflict, enshrining the right to bare arms its in constitution. raising an armed group to oppose the government, making your own parallel law wasn't going to be tolerated by president washington. the ball is now in the court of his 43rd successor. is this a 21st century whiskey are bell i don't know? or a 21st century ruby ridge.
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i'm ray suarez. and that's the inside story. ♪ this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris. taking action. president obama depends its proposed plans for gun control. oregon standoff, the armed group's new demand for the government. diplomatic dispute between saudi arabia and iran. allies are beginning to take sides. and maiden voyage to the united states, one of the world's largest cargo ships. ♪

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