We, the undersigned rural organizations, individuals, and friends, express our support for rural Oregonians who oppose the current occupation of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitor’s center in Harney County, Oregon.
The events this past month were an attempt by ideologically driven movements to harness the ongoing economic crisis, using our pain for their gain. The proposal put forth by Ammon Bundy and the Malheur occupiers to privatize public lands will do nothing to improve employment and the general economy.
There is a crisis in rural Oregon and across rural America. We haven’t heard about it from the vigilantes who seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It is a chronic crisis that has been going on for decades with the decline of natural resource economies. No new economic engine has emerged. This results in low-wage economies and the continued defunding and shrinking of public infrastructure, including schools, libraries, public safety, and public transportation. The lack of jobs has left our people vulnerable to recruitment by militias with ties to white supremacists. We need public investment and a new vision for thriving rural communities that is built on our shared interest in a fair economy and racial justice that go hand in hand.
We know that people who live in rural Oregon are best equipped to make decisions about rural Oregon’s future. We trust the people of Harney County, not armed militias that are unaccountable to the local community. Harney County deserves democracy and human dignity. We send strength, love and solidarity to them from across the country.
This sign-on letter was written by Rural Organizing Project and SURJ.
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