Read the full comprehensive report, Anatomy of a Standoff: The Occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters (PDF).
On January 2, a loosely organized group of armed anti-government extremists led by Ammon Bundy seized control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters buildings located near the town of Burns in remote southeastern Oregon. They did it because two local ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, had been ordered to report to federal prison to serve a sentence for arson.
Since seizing the headquarters—empty at the time—the extremists have refused to leave and have instead used social media extensively in an effort to gather support from other right-wing extremist groups and individuals. Mainstream media outlets have also flocked to the scene, interviewing many of the participants in the takeover.
After several days, the extremists finally gave themselves a name: Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. But who are these “Citizens” and what are their beliefs and backgrounds? Experts with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism have attempted to identify as many of the participants in the takeover as possible, watching and reading many interviews and scouring hundreds of profiles and videos on social media.
This report provides mini-profiles on 30 different occupiers and allies who have been at the wildlife refuge headquarters examining their backgrounds, ideologies, and activities. It also analyzes the composition of the occupiers, illustrating a number of important aspects to the participants in the takeover, including:
About two-thirds of the occupiers appear to have the anti-government "Patriot" movement - and more specifically, the militia wing of that movement - as their primary ideological affiliation. The remaining one-third of the occupiers have an anti-government ideology centered on opposition to federal regulation of public lands, a movement often referred to as the Sagebrush Rebellion or the Wise Use movement.