Photos Of Oregon Militia Protest As Armed Men March To Jumpstart The New Year

While many are jumping into 2016 with resolutions and back-to-work mindsets, one group of men are diving head-first into the new year with an armed and organized protest in an Oregon federal wildlife refuge. The men are accusing law enforcement officials of punishing ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond unfairly for charges of arson, which occurred back in 2001 and 2006. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was chosen as the spot for protest because, as Ammon Bundy — a prominent rancher's son and the apparent speaker of the occupiers — explained to CNN, "This refuge — it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area."

Although there is no immediate threat to human life, the occupiers plan to remain on the property for "as long as necessary," according to Bundy. He argues that the protesters are upset, not only at the rulings in the case of the Hammonds, but at the takeover of space by the refuge at the expense of ranchers and miners. Bundy told CNN:

Now that people such as the Hammonds are taking a stand and not selling their ranches, they are being prosecuted in their own courts as terrorists and putting them in prison for five years.

The best approach, according to experts like CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, is to wait the group out and attempt to end the occupation peacefully.

Amid the cries against tyranny and government overrule, the protesters admit they do not wish to harm anyone, but they are not afraid to use violence, if necessary. It is unknown how long the men plan to hold the federal building, though the Hammonds are scheduled to report to prison on Jan. 4.

According to Bundy, the protesters' message is loud and strong:

The people will need to be able to use the land and resources without fear as free men and women.