George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Media advisory: Past violence in standoffs drives caution in Oregon, researcher says

Mon, 01/04/2016

LAWRENCE — As a group of armed anti-government protesters have taken over federal buildings in a remote area of Oregon, federal law enforcement officers are seeking a peaceful resolution to the standoff.

A University of Kansas of researcher on extremist groups and American politics is available to discuss the developments at the occupation of the wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, researches extremist groups, public policy and American politics. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 journal articles on a range of topics, including criminal justice policy, counterterrorism and environmental policy.

Q: What is the significance of this action by an anti-government group? Is it that they are armed? Or that they are calling themselves a militia? 

Haider-Markel: It's significant in that federal officials are unlikely to create a confrontation by trying to remove them. But at some point they will start negotiations if the occupation continues. It seems clear that although some of the occupiers might belong to militias from elsewhere, this isn't a local militia, and most of the occupiers are probably best characterized as belonging to the Patriot Movement, which includes militias, sovereign citizens and others.

Q: Do you think there’s significance to the perception that the government is not responding with force at this point based on the demographic of the group and location being a remote, rural area in the West? Or in the government essentially just monitoring this occupation at this point?

Haider-Markel: Absolutely true, but partly because of past experience at Ruby Ridge, Waco and with the Montana Freemen, the authorities will not charge in with guns and force a confrontation. It's simply too likely that the occupiers will use their weapons.

To arrange an interview with Haider-Markel, contact George Diepenbrock at or 785-864-8853.

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