A year ago, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, LaVoy Finicum, and their friends arrived in Oregon and camped at the Malheur Refuge to protest the November 2015 imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond on federal charges of terrorism and conspiracy. What became known as he Oregon Standoff is still being tried in the courts, with all defendants–to this point–being acquitted of related charges. But since the election of Donald Trump, there has also arisen a quiet but widespread movement among ranchers and rural folks in the West to focus the attention of the new President and his Cabinet officials on the extreme federal sentencing terms for Dwight and Steven Hammond.
Their story has reached folklore status in the West, but it’s very real, and very urgent, as the elderly Dwight Hammond, and his son Steven, sit in a federal prison on trumped-up charges of ‘terrorism’ while their families suffer, and their ranch faces an uncertain future. The author of this open letter is a personal friend of the Hammond family, who sees the great injustice of allowing these men to remain in prison, while rogue agents and federal agencies continue to run roughshod over the rights of decent Americans.
Open Letter to President Trump by Travis Williams
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20515
My name is Travis Williams. I have been friends with the Hammond Family for a very long time. Steve and I have lived in the same area of the county, and attended high school together. My kids and his kids are the same ages and attend the same functions. I consider Steve and Earlyna my friends, and I love their kids as my own.
It sadden me deeply to thing of my friends being imprisoned through what I call ‘unfortunate guilt.’ Yes, sir, they did start fires, but I do not believe they need to be incarcerated for another 4 years. Steve has 2 boys and 1 girl who need their dad. Earlyna, his wife, needs her husband back. Dwight is nearing 80 years old and needs to be home with his wife, Susie. Steve and Dwight are good people. Dwight would do anything for a friend, day or night, if asked. Dwight and Susie have been part of the Oregon Cattlemen’s & Cattlewomen’s Assn. for many, many years, donating time and money throughout their county and state. Steve and I have worked together on many school-related events together, including chaperoning a sophomore biology trip to the Oregon coast for 5 days, two years in a row.
They could lose their ranch if things do not change soon. Banks here in town have accounts set up in their name for their neighbors to help, but with $400,000.00 in debt and low cattle prices, I, as a fellow rancher, know the difficulties they are facing right now.
Sir, I am coming to you with my ‘hat in my hand,’ asking you to do an act of mercy for this family and our community by letting them out on an early release. They are not a threat to society, nor are they going to repeat their violation. I thank you for taking the time to read this, and hope and pray we will have our friends back with their families soon.
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Read more about Travis and his involvement in local land management issues here.