Oregon Occupier Arrested in Stolen Federal Vehicle

Cops found him in Safeway parking lot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2016 11:25 AM CST
Oregon Occupier Arrested in Stolen Federal Vehicle
A man gets into a truck at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.    (AP Photo/Keith Ridler)

Police in Oregon have arrested a member of the armed group occupying a federal wildlife refuge, but he may not have been the brains of the operation: Kenneth Medenbach, 62, was arrested at a grocery store after apparently driving a vehicle stolen from the refuge into the town of Burns to buy supplies, the AP reports. The occupant of a second vehicle with government license plates had already gone into the Safeway when police arrived, reports the Oregonian, which notes that both vehicles had new door signs reading "Harney County Resource Center," which is what the armed occupiers are calling the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The group seized the refuge two weeks ago to protest federal land policies.

Medenbach is being held on suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The Oregonian reports that he was released on bail in November of charges of illegally camping on federal land, and was convicted of a similar offense in 1995. His conditions of release in November stated that he was not allowed to "occupy" federal land. Harney County judge Steve Grasty tells the Guardian he is glad that an arrest has been made in the standoff. "At some point, criminal actions become so blatant that they just can’t be ignored," he says. The AP reports that Ammon Bundy and other occupation leaders planned to meet with community members on Friday night, but the parley was called off after the county told them that they couldn't use the local fairgrounds. (More Oregon stories.)

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