Jason Arment

Interview with Eric Parker, Part II: The Bird Sanctuary

As Jason Arment continues to interview “The Bundy Sniper,” Eric Parker, their conversation turns to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff, regarding who and what was taking place there.

 

During the interview with Eric Parker, the standoff at the Bird Sanctuary in eastern Oregon was still active. LaVoy Finicum was still alive. No arrests had been made. [Read Part I HERE.]

 

Moving away from the Bundy Ranch situation, I think I got most of my questions answered. Or asked. If I think of anything else, I’ll ask you. Speaking to the events in eastern Oregon, what’s your knowledge of how that transpired? And what are your thoughts on what is being done there?

For a couple months after the ranch, I was pretty nervous and I got approached by a guy who was the leader of Three Percent of Idaho. And he said, “Man, you’re kind of on your own.” And this guy is ex-law enforcement; he was a deputy, or something, of like eleven years of northern Idaho. I didn’t really like cops before I met him. He’s a good dude, in general. And, you know, he changed my mind.

Anyway, he came to me and first he asked me what happened—my version of the story and everything. And then he said, “Hey, why don’t you come in and help me build this organization?”

So, we did. And we worked on building the Three Percent of Idaho for the past year, year and a half. What we did was involve ourselves in a couple of other situations: one with a miner over in Oregon and then one with a miner over in Montana. And with the Hammonds. We got involved because we wanted to … I’ll be blunt and honest with you. I told Dwight Hammond that it was double jeopardy. It was cruel and unusual punishment. And we wanted to put our security teams on his property and not let them take him.

He didn’t want to go through all that. He’s a real modest older man. Then they ended up threatening him that if he kept up communication with us they would come pick him up early and put him in a less desirable prison and keep targeting the family afterward—that all came through the lawyer.

Do you know what happened with the Hammonds?

They got charged with terrorism and arson for lighting a backburn on their own property. It burned out of control a little bit and burned about one hundred and thirty acres of what they call public land, BLM [Bureau of Land Management] land. This is way out in the middle of nowhere, out on their ranch. They actually burned their property to backburn, to keep a brushfire from coming. It got out of hand a little bit and burned one hundred and thirty acres, which is nothing in the grand scheme things. They literally went and put it out themselves, the Hammonds put it out themselves. The BLM never responded to the fire with their firefighters—nothing.

They charged them with actual terrorism for burning government property. That charge has a mandatory minimum of five years. So when they went in front of the judge, the judge said, “That’s cruel and unusual punishment.” He literally said that. “It’s unconstitutional because it’s cruel and unusual punishment.” He gave them nine months, or something like that. They went to prison for nine months, him and his son, for starting a fire. They got out and went back to their lives.

So first, the judge retires, the one that sentenced them originally. That judge retires. The government comes back in and says, “No, you’re going to serve the mandatory minimum. You’re going back to prison for five years.”

To me, and to us, that’s double jeopardy. They already served their time. It was a judge … I mean, you know. I shouldn’t have to explain it, right? So what we were doing, we were involved with the Hammonds and they had to stop talking to us. What we wanted to do at that point—because they’re under duress, they can’t talk to us anymore, they’re scared—we had a rally, invited everybody. Members of our organization and a bunch from Oregon that we work with. We all came and had a rally at the town. Ammond Bundy was there. At the end of that rally, him and Bundy took some people and went out to that refuge.

He came to me and asked me to go with them, and I told him no, that I was going to take my guys in there to occupy a federal building. I told him that we needed to work with the community, and that we had a plan. I tried to tell him, “No, we have to do this the right way.”

He said he was going to do what he was going to do. We went our separate ways, and he went and he did that. I don’t necessarily agree with the way he’s going about it, but there is some serious issues with the lands and the management of the lands and the bureaucracies, to the point where something does need to be done. But, like I said, I don’t agree with the way he is doing it.

We went back a couple days later. The rally was over. We had a meeting, a town hall meeting. No Sheriff shows up, nobody from the community—as far as county representation—shows up at the community meeting after the rally. They just went out there and took the federal building, and there’s nobody there to explain from the county administration. It’s just a bunch of us. And so we’re trying to calm the community down and tell them, “Hey, there is nobody out there. It’s a closed facility. They’re not going to hurt anybody. They’re just trying to prove a point. It’s just like Occupy. There just out there occupying a space. And trying to bring attention to your plight.”

We left after that; got up the next morning and went home. We came back a couple days later when they were having another meeting. We came back to kind of judge the community and see how they felt about things. By that time, the FBI was there set up at the airport. We decided that we were going to try to get the three sides talking: the FBI; the county, Sheriffs; and the people out occupying the refuge. What you had were three sides that weren’t talking at all. We all got together, sat down and talked, and said, “We don’t want to see another Waco. We’ve got to try to get people communicating.”

That’s a big part of what happened for me after the ranch, was making sure that we tried to open lines of communication so that it never comes down to Americans facing off with Americans again over land and property rights and the Constitution. If we can get people talking first, and then figure it out, it doesn’t have to go that far.

So that’s what we’re doing over there right now.

 

I have some questions for you about the people inside the Bird Sanctuary. I don’t know if that’s actually what it is, but I think of it as the Bird Sanctuary.

They kind of want you to think of it as this little nature conservation area. But what it is, it’s a refuge preserve that’s the federal government, BLM, whatever. As the BLM acquires land from these ranchers, in whatever way they can—with the Hammonds it was a total screw job; they try to buy land and if you don’t sell they pull your grazing permits—as they acquire this land they dump it into the preserve. So the preserve is steadily getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

They’ll get some rancher’s land and they’ll dump it into the preserve, and that’s half the reason they chose that place in particular was because it’s being used that way. They’ll acquire the land, they’ll dump it into the preserve, and then it’s under federal mandate and nobody can touch it. The Hammonds’ property have a bunch of uranium under it. There have been tests that were done in the nineties. There’s a bunch of gold and a bunch of uranium. That’s probably going to come out later, if not right now. And we looked at all that kind of stuff when we first got involved. All that information was there. We have a team that really digs into these situations so that we know that we’re in the right, because when we do take such a hard stand on certain situations we have to make sure that we’re in the right.

 

Speaking of people being in the right … there are some characters inside of the Bird Sanctuary. I don’t know if you know these folks or not. One of the gentlemen—I learned this off of some article on the internet, so who knows if this is super accurate or not—but I’ve heard he goes by “Buddha.” He claims to have been a former Marine. The Marine Corps has been asked and they have no record of his service. When this was brought to his attention, he said that it was unfortunate that they would say that. In my experience, the Marine Corps really doesn’t lie about that. There are a bunch of Marines who are murderers.

Yeah, they claimed that Kennedy guy. Yeah, so Buddha, okay. I have my own personal opinions about Buddha and a couple of the other guys that are there that were at the Bundy Ranch. And it was mostly because of the way they represented themselves afterward. Anytime they got in front of the camera, whether it was Vice or an interview or something, they would thumb their noses at the government and talk about how we had them tactically, and we had the tactical superiority. And when we put our counter snipers in place we had them and they tucked tail and ran.

To me … you know, I didn’t know any of those guys. I had never met any of them. And the only public person in any kind of position that was being called a sniper was me. So I felt like they were kind of saying, “Yeah, we put him up there.” And that bugged me. Just because I wasn’t that guy. I wasn’t in a tent anywhere where they said, “This is your position.”

I’ve already had my opinions of their character.

I met Buddha for the first time at the operation in Oregon for the miner—Sugar Pine Mine. He was harmless, he wanted to help, he was there to help. Everyone that showed up was volunteering to help. So we were civil.

I never served, so the whole line about “serving” thing, that bugs me. Anytime anybody asks, and I’ve been asked a lot because of that picture and my life after, if I’ve served and I’m always real quick to say, “No, I’m not that guy. I’m a construction worker with two kids who got pissed off. I’ve not been part of anything like that.”

That Stolen Valor shit pisses me off, because I never try to claim what I’m not.

 

Stolen Valor was just struck down in California, basically. So I don’t even know if it’s going to be a thing that is used anymore in court because it infringes on freedom of speech. And I don’t really get mad at people that pretend.

What I think that it comes down to for some of these people, from the public’s perception and from my own perception, and you probably can’t speak to this but I do want your overall answer. So let’s broaden this out from this one gentleman. So, in general, these people who seem to be attracted to the militia, but at the same time are kind of fakers, I mean, what’s going on? Are they just delusional? Because eventually they have to realize that people are going to figure out that they didn’t serve. I mean, come on.

When everyone is put into these situations where an actual operation is running, you can kind of tell who knows what they’re doing and who doesn’t. But, yeah, it does happen a lot in the movement. People and their egos.

 [Eric adroitly, and quickly, steers the conversation back to more informational waters.]

But there are things that need to be done right now. Some people have likened it to a cold war for the Bill of Rights, for the Declaration of Independence, and for the Constitution. And the things that need to be done right now is getting involved and making a stand. Finding those situations where people are in the right, with their property rights, and the Constitution is legitimately being violated, and making a hard stand.

A lot of the militia won’t get into all that, because it’s a little political. And then you’ve got cameras all over the place and no one wants to do that. So we realized, when we were thinking of what we wanted to envision with the Three Percent of Idaho, was the idea of politically active citizenry. A body of citizenry that is engaged and paying attention. We try not to get into the right or the left, but obviously we’re all constitutional conservatives. With that comes a lot of different walks of life. We try to stay focused on the fact that were all constitutionalists; it doesn’t matter how you feel about abortion or which god you pray to. Right now, the Bill of Rights is under attack and we have to come together to defend that.

So we’re a lot more involved. We want to be prepared. We saw what happened at the Bundy Ranch and we thought, Okay, what is the answer to that, to that overstepping, encroaching government foot? And it’s an organized body of citizenry that is engaged and paying attention. And what we try to do is have active Three Percent in every county in our state. And what we want is for them to focus on personal sustainability and tactical civil defense. Can we feed ourselves? And can we defend ourselves?

So what we’ll do is put on classes, and we find members that have certain skill sets that don’t mind putting on classes for other members and training. Whether its firearm safety, or advanced carbine classes, or canning and off-grid power—we try to do all that stuff. And then, when a situation arises, like what’s going on in eastern Oregon with the Hammonds, or what was going on with the miners, we get involved and we go operational, for lack of a better term, for the Bill of Rights.

We’ll go get involved.

 

One thing I want to touch on really quick, because you likened the occupiers of the Bird Sanctuary to the Occupy movement. One of the main differences is that the guys in Oregon are armed, whereas the people in the Occupy movement were not. And time and again in every city, the police force rolled in and basically rolled everybody up. People were horrendously hurt.

I watched all those [on television] and I was so mad. Part of me wanted to get in my truck and drive over there myself. The Oathkeepers did go operational in Ferguson a couple times. But for whatever reason, that didn’t really take off. I think they got shut down really hard by the feds and local PD. The thing of it is, is that doesn’t happen when people are armed. You’ve got that picture of those kids all locked arms there peacefully, and you’ve got that sadist officer pepper spraying the whole row of them, loving every minute of it. You know what? No one has ever pepper sprayed me, because I carry a Beretta. And if I’m in that situation, I make it known that I am armed and I’ll defend myself as a free man. And I’ve never been pepper sprayed.

 

Let’s talk more about the Bird Sanctuary in eastern Oregon.

So the guys out there on the reserve. So a friend of mine made joke on Facebook, “So that’s what happens when you let rookies take the point.” I thought that was kind of funny because you’ve got Ammond Bundy in there and he’s trying to do what he’s trying to do and he’s trying to make his point, and you’ve got some of the guys that are in there and they’re making videos. And that’s what they were doing before, and they were trying to make an uproar and shock people or whatever. So they went into that situation with kind of that same mindset where, there is the saying, if every problem looks like a nail and all you’ve got is a hammer. So they went at it with their shenanigans, and it didn’t play well. It didn’t play well at all.

When [Jon] Ritzheimer made the video about the people being all pissed off about the dildos, he was playing right into their hands.

 

Well, that’s kind of where it comes back to Stolen Valor, although it’s not about Stolen Valor. It’s more about this ego on parade. Why do they keep making these videos?

That one gentleman you just referred to—former Marine Motor Transportation guy. To my understanding, he did two tours. At one point he probably killed some people, from what I’ve read, but didn’t receive a combat action ribbon. He keeps making videos, and the first one I saw of him he’s in his truck. Why is everyone always in their truck?

It’s cold. The heater’s going.

 

I do see that point, but it does seem like a lot of the videos are in trucks. So this guy is in his truck, and he’s crying to his family. And he’s—

That messed stuff up. Because we were heavily engaged in what I was telling you about, the battle at hand, which was winning over the community and showing the ability—

Because what happened was they had a grievance list, a list of grievances. We gave it to the county, and we gave it to the state—nobody said anything, nobody ever answered.

What we were trying to show the community was this step-by-step process of: if nobody is answering your grievances, what you do is form a safety committee, and we were going into all this constitutional law, common law stuff, and showing that the safety committee represents their community and has the ability to call the militia to enforce the decision of the jury. We were trying to show them a way to get their grievances aired and return to constitutional law.

So while that’s all going on, this video comes out, and right there in one of the meetings a guy pulls out an iPad and says, “Well, what about this?” and there’s Ritzheimer crying, saying goodbye to his family. And I told the guy, “Well, shit.”

That’s why I’m not out there.

 

But not just that, he makes another video where he slams the Idaho Three Percent that are at the perimeter, and the one that we’re speaking of, the dildo video. He does have a chuckle about the dildos, but why would he allow himself to be trolled by those people? And if you’ve really made the commitment to sacrifice your life, are dildos—because he says this, “It blows my mind that people would sell dildos.”

And for me, at home, I thought, It blows your mind that someone will make a joke and send you a dildo when you show up to occupy federal land by force and you don’t bring socks? That blows his mind? But it didn’t blow his mind when someone said, “Let’s go occupy federal land and not bring any food.” That didn’t blow his mind? Because I’m looking at this as someone who has served. I’ve lived war, this isn’t a game to me. And these people show up there with nothing.

I agree.

 

In your opinion, you have much more knowledge of this than I do, do you think these people were earnest about their intentions and motivations? Or do you think there were people that were being little glory hounds? They wanted some fame? Do you think it was a combination? Because some of this just isn’t adding up, you know what I mean?

So this is my personal stance. Ammond Bundy is completely legitimate and he’s completely heartfelt. And when he was telling me about the long list of things the Hammonds had endured. And he told me, “You came to help my family when we asked for it, and we needed it. And this list I’m showing you is ten times worse than anything they ever did to us.” And he feels that. He is in it because of right and wrong. He told me, “Eric, if we don’t do something to defend the Hammonds in some way, it’s going to be a mark on all our souls.” And I’m not religious, I don’t get into anything like that, and that’s not where I mean to go with it. He really, firmly believes that letting that kind of injustice happen to somebody who can’t defend themselves, that it’s so morally wrong that it’s going to stay with us all.

So this man is legitimate with all of his earnestness. He’s trying to do something. Can I say that about the other guys? No. They mean well, those guys you’re talking about. They mean well, but I think a lot of it does come down to personal notoriety, personal glory, whatever.

 

And not just to the public though, for instance. Because I’ve been paying attention to this stuff as I live my life here in Denver. And it just blows my mind. Because I’m a citizen of this nation and these men and women are also citizens. I always struggle when I see my fellow man, even if they aren’t citizens of this nation—we’re citizens of the world as far as I’m concerned.

So outside of this encampment, outside of this bird place there is this—or was at one point, it’s on television, you probably saw it, if not you’ll get a chuckle out of this—there’s this old man. And I’m sure he’s a nice guy. I think he’s 55, maybe older. And he’s in a rocking chair, or was. And he’s underneath a tarp. An interviewer goes underneath the tarp and does a short interview where he gets this hesitant old man to talk about his ideas about what would happen if the police came.

The old man claimed he had a warrant out for his arrest, but when the media looked into it there wasn’t a warrant—or that’s the last I heard about it. And this old man is talking about how he’s willing to turn his firearm on the authorities if they come to seize him or move him. His rocking chair and tarp, that he’s under like a big cocoon, I just feel like some of these people—maybe this isn’t a question. But I feel like some of these people are just living out an idea, or wanting to do some kind of public service. For me, it’s like if you really, really feel this … obviously, you’ve outlined some things that have nothing to do with seizing Bird Sanctuaries that could actually matter in the long run. But there are also other ways.

What do you think stops people from going to a homeless shelter and serving the homeless? These smaller acts of defiance to the idea that humanity is meant to crawl, that people are generally bad people. Do you think that it’s the grandiosity of defying, or the idea of defying, the federal government? Because all of these people could go to homeless shelters and serve food. They could adopt a highway. I don’t know, they could do a lot of things. Because some of these people obviously have no business being there.

But they’re still there.

I think what you saw with that, with the rocking chair thing, was a little bit of fear. I think the internet closed in on them, and all the rumor mill was going, and the feds were coming for them, and it was going to be a late-night raid, and they were going to kill them all, and it was going to be Waco.

That’s what you were seeing, some reaction to that. “If they’re gonna come and get me, then so gosh darn be it.” Maybe one too many Westerns. But these people are legitimate; they really do live that way.

That man in the rocking chair, his name is LaVoy. And he owns a ranch down in the same area as Cliven Bundy. He’s had a lot of his own issues with the BLM, and his rights being violated. I think what we were seeing was his reaction to the possibility of strike force coming in there at night and killing them all.

Did it look ridiculous? Yeah. It was raining and snowing, so he put a tarp over himself. But, all joking aside, I think we were witnessing legitimate making-your-peace kind of thing, and going out like an old Western.

I don’t know. I don’t think it was as grandiose. I don’t think it was posturing as much as it was a real reaction to fear.

 

I can definitely appreciate that. In all the violence that I’ve encountered with the federal government, I was one of the people distributing it. I wasn’t on the receiving end of it. So I can only imagine how to react.

LaVoy was at the ranch when they said, “We’ve been authorized to use lethal force.” He was one of the guys down there on horseback. He had seen them posture up and threaten. So it’s not completely out of his realm of possibility for that to occur again.

Having said that, there definitely is some people in there that aren’t necessarily … because it is a serious situation. Right?

 

Yes.

I feel it’s an incredibly serious situation. Jon Ritzheimer wasn’t at the ranch. And I hate to do that to people. But he wasn’t there. He didn’t see how serious it got. He didn’t have that feeling. Like you said, he’s been on the giving side [of state-sponsored violence]. He’s never been on the other side of that situation.

Because I used to be too, “Oh, screw ’em! They’ll have to kill me!” Blah, blah, blah. When you’re actually in that situation—there was a guy who served and he did an interview after the ranch, and he said he hadn’t felt anything that intense since he was over there on the battlefield. I had never felt that, so I didn’t know, but I had felt the ranch so I kind of went, “Oh, okay.” I could put it together a little bit. He said he’d never felt anything that intense here, or not without a machine gun in his hand kind of thing.

 

Well, that’s what intrigues me, it disturbs me, because these situations are so surreal. And that’s why I’m interviewing you. Because I want to understand—and I would call the BLM, but the BLM isn’t going to talk to me.

They won’t talk to anybody. The first time I started to actually feel like it might all be okay as far as not ending up in Guantanamo Bay, I saw on C-SPAN a congressional hearing and they were tearing into a representative of the BLM as far as who justified all that stuff. Who signed off to going to Bunkerville, to Nevada, with all that hardware and all those people. They were really tearing into them.

I thought, Okay, great, somebody is paying attention. Hopefully, they continue to pay attention.

How surreal it really was? I knew I had snipers on me. I just knew it. I saw the sniper position, could see the reflections of their scopes—I looked at it through a guy’s spotting scope. I knew they were on me. But later on, after the fact, one of the snipers from Metro Swat who was in one of those positions went on Cliven Bundy’s Facebook page and was talking about the protester who went prone on the bridge and how big his head looked in his forty times magnification scope and how, “Don’t worry he wouldn’t have felt a thing with my .308.”

Which was fine to me.

Everybody on Facebook flipped out. They went and found out that he was actually that sniper. They found out on his Facebook. They called Metro PD and said, “You’ve got a sniper who is fantasizing about blowing protesters’ heads off on Facebook. And he was demoted. I mean, he was a SWAT team sniper and they put him back on patrol or something.

Oh, and his boss too. Because they went to his boss afterward. They were like, “Hey, your guy is doing this and saying this publicly …” and he said he didn’t see a problem with it. And they demoted him too.

But, honestly, I don’t think they should have went after the douche bag talking bravado about blowing my head off. I think they should go after the people that gave him the order, or the okay.

But, how real it really was?

I got down and it was the right decision.

 

[Read Part III HERE.]

 

Jason Arment

Jason Arment served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Machine Gunner in the USMC. He's earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Chautauqua, Hippocampus, The Burrow Press Review, Dirty Chai, and War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities; anthologized in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors Volume 2 & 4; and is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, The Florida Review, and Phoebe. Jason lives in Denver.

Related posts

7 Comments

  1. michael kors handbags said:

    I intended to compose you one bit of remark to help thank you the moment again relating to the amazing advice you have contributed here. This is seriously open-handed of you to present freely precisely what a few people could possibly have made available for an ebook to end up making some profit for themselves, primarily considering the fact that you could have tried it in the event you considered necessary. Those good tips as well served like a great way to know that most people have the same dream just like mine to grasp lots more with regards to this condition. I believe there are a lot more fun times up front for folks who examine your blog post.
    michael kors handbags http://www.michaelkorshandbagssale.us.org

  2. Pingback: FRIENDS FROM FB POST | cindyloulife

  3. Pingback: Interview With The Bundy Sniper From Solitary Confinement

  4. Pingback: Interview with the Bundy Sniper, Part IV: Phone Calls from Solitary - The Big Smoke

  5. Pingback: Interview with Eric Parker, Part III: Beyond the Horizon - The Big Smoke

  6. Pingback: Interview with Eric Parker, Part I: The Bundy Sniper - The Big Smoke

*

Top