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Oregon sheriff says militia members want to overthrow the government

The sheriff of Harney County, Oregon, said that militia members who seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on Saturday are not there to show solidarity with a local ranching family.

"These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers, when in reality these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States," Sheriff David Ward said in a statement. The militia members said they were protesting the fact that Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steve, of Burns, Oregon, were convicted of arson after burning 139 acres of federal land.

Reporters estimate that 12 to 25 men took over the building on Saturday. Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who clashed with the government over grazing rights, is one of the protesters. However, a lawyer for the Hammond family told KOIN 6 News that Bundy and the others at the headquarters do not speak for them. BuzzFeed reports that the militia members said they plan to stay in the building until the federal government turns the land over to local residents.