This morning, President Donald Trump pardoned Dwight and Steven Hammond, two ranchers whose arson convictions inspired the armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January 2016. The Hammonds were convicted of “intentionally and maliciously setting fires on public lands” in 2012, and in 2015 were sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 5 years. Unhappy that the Hammonds had to face jail time for their illegal actions, other anti-government extremists took up the Hammonds’ case as a rallying cry and violently occupied a national wildlife refuge for 41 days.
Statement by Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger on President Trump pardoning the Hammonds:
“By pardoning the Hammonds, President Trump is telling anti-public land zealots there are no consequences for undermining every American’s birthright to our shared public lands and national parks. What’s just as bad is that it shows Department of Interior employees who face serious threats from anti-government extremists like the Hammonds that the administration does not have their backs. This pardon is a direct threat to America’s public lands and our shared national treasures.”