Violence erupted at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday night after heated tensions ended in a visitor getting sent to the hospital.
Lewis Arthur, leader of the Veterans on Patrol and identifies as an anti-violence patriot, visited the Bundy’s camp to convince the militants to remove women and children from the refuge as well as the prominent militia member Ryan Payne.
Yet the conflict immediately turned bloody when Arthur’s friend was sent to the hospital after being purportedly punched in the face by a militia member.
Arthur’s quarrel with Payne has dragged on for years. Both attended Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff against the federal government in Nevada. Arthur told The Oregonian the two were friends, but the relationship waned when Payne became radicalized and “suicidal.”
Arthur and his group set up a camp across the street from the compound. According to Arthur’s companion Jeff “J Dawg” Kagan, when the group approached the property an unidentified militia member attacked Arthur and another comrade. As the group made their way further into the refuge, militia member Blain Cooper punched Arthur in the back of the head. Kagan asserts he tried to stop the fighting, but Cooper just struck him in the face. The group then retreated and Kagan went to the hospital.
Yet another refuge occupier Jason Patrick paints a different story where Arthur was the one to first initiate violence. According to Patrick, Arthur “assaulted” a guard a few hours after entering the refuge. In an interview with The Oregonian, militia member and staunch anti-Muslim activist Jon Ritzheimer said that Arthur hit a guard causing the guard to collide with his truck and injure his hand.
On Thursday morning conservative radio host Pete Santilli, who has been livestreaming the occupation’s actions, shouted a foul-mouthed threat to Arthur’s group.
"I'm about to (expletive) your day up!" Santilli yelled to the outsiders' tent. "You (expletive) with the wrong person, you (expletive) crackhead!"
The patriot-on-patriot violence is not only demonstrating the lack of strength in the occupiers' camaraderie but also exposes holes in their mission as supporters turn against each other. It shouldn’t be long before the whole protest falls apart, thankfully.
Banner image credit: Reuters