Armed occupiers unplug suspected surveillance cameras
BURNS, Ore. —
The armed protest at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge continues in rural Eastern Oregon.
On Friday afternoon, occupiers spotted four cameras surrounding the refuge and tore them down.
Someone tipped off the protesters after seeing workers install the devices along the remote highway between Burns and the refuge.
Mounted to each power pole were two, sophisticated pan-tilt-zoom Cannon cameras. Both drew power from a power line and used wireless technology to send video.
"Our rights are being violated by this camera being here," local Burns resident Levi Majors said to reporters. "This road don't need to be watched by anybody."
The cameras can be remotely operated from miles away and are capable of recording at night.
The occupiers told reporters they believe this is the work of the FBI. The FBI was not available for comment.
"You may come and pick them up," protester LaVoy Finicum said. "Just don't put them back up."
Finicum says removing the cameras is a victory, but the occupiers also suffered a loss.
Oregon State Police arrested Kenneth Medenbach, 62, of Crescent, Oregon for reportedly driving a refuge vehicle without permission. Police found a second stolen vehicle nearby.
Police say occupiers covered up the wildlife refuge badges with a decal that reads, "Harney County Resource Vehicle."
"Sometimes we don't make as a good a decision as we should," Finicum said. "Unfortunately, that was one of them."
Finicum says they plan to give the federal vehicles to the county when they leave.
Ryan Bundy told ABC that free people don't need to be watched.
"I'm sure that they could just replace this (the camera) and put it back to working, but we'll take it down again," Bundy said. "We're here for the long haul."