“The militia movement, [experts] say, is in the midst of a massive growth spurt at levels even greater than in the early 1990s after the Waco, Texas, standoff and the siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. It peaked after the Oklahoma City bombing.”
The occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon has raised questions about the far-right movements in America. Many experts believe the growth of militias is unprecedented. The growth is due to a scourge of issues, including louder calls for gun control and the revival of white nationalism over Confederate flag issues. The expansion of anti-government militias is the direct effect of the 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy and the federal authorities, according to the Law Center. After the government backed down against the Bundy’s 2014 armed protest the movement became energized. The standoff in Oregon is in defense of Dwight and Steven Hammond who were convicted of arson after burning public land. A peaceful protest occurred in a nearby town to support the Hammonds, in which armed militants splintered off and took the nearby wildlife refuge. The so-called Patriot’s demands have been vague, with calls tocede the public land to the people being one of the few coherent messages from the group. The FBI has been criticized for not acting promptly, but perhaps unjustly. The FBI has confronted right-wing extremists before, and the results have been disastrous – 75 dead in Waco, Texas, including children and four officers. After Waco, the FBI learned to judge every situation differently and to lend a sympathetic ear to the protestors. The occupation seems to be an improvised grassroots protest, but it still poses the threat of emboldening far-right militant groups. Many right-wing groups were quick to denounce Ammon Bundy and his followers, concerned that if it turns to violence then all militias will be deemed terrorists.