UPDATE: Oath Keeper & Miners Rally
Approximately 150+ citizens met at the BLM parking
lot in Medford, Oregon to rally for due process of law
April 23, 2015
At about 11:50am I drove down Biddle to meet a friend and observe the Oath Keepers / Galice Miners’ Rally at the BLM (U. S. Bureau of Land Management) Office in Medford, Oregon. I drove by a car dealership with the biggest flag I have seen in town and it was flapping in the wind. I drive that road several times a month. Today that flag presented itself to me, likely because of what I was going to observe. Is this what the flag stands for? I would see.
After parking, I met up with a couple Scanner Group Members to say hi. My buddy showed up and we stood in back while I took a few pictures and a couple minutes of video. MOSTLY, I tried to stay focused on what was said, on the loud speaker and also on the crowd to see how this group of people presented itself and the debate (love a good debate).
There were TV reporters from every station in town with cameras on tripods and non-traditional media from various pages and sites recording speeches, interviewing individuals in the crowd with recorders and phones. Thought it best to focus on the message and the reaction.
Before the planned speeches started, I wondered if I would hear disgruntled citizens, obnoxious protesters or lots of derogatory name calling. I didn’t really have any pre-conceived notions of what to expect, but human nature usually dictates one prepares for the worst. NOPE. IT DID NOT HAPPEN. Sure, there were picket signs with varying slogans. Yes, people were there to show their support for one side of a legal battle, but they were very respectful. There was no name-calling. There were no crazy rants.
So enough of what I didn’t hear… there were functional conversations about property rights happening. There were lots of handshakes and smiles. There was respectful, healthy, civil disobedience. I drove by later and there was not even a single piece of trash left in the parking lot. As I milled about, I heard FUNCTIONAL phrases like:
“glad this is happening so people know”
“these guys just want a fair shake in court”
“150 years of mining can’t be washed away without due process”
“this is part of our local history we need to preserve”
“the common man can’t afford to fight something the size of BLM”
At about 12:15pm, the official presentation started with Joseph Rice, local Oath Keepers Leadership. Joseph gave a very well educated speech that started out with the history of the mine and the details of the conflict. Most of that is available online and linked below or was discussed in Scanner Group at length, so I won’t take time to lay it all out here. The simple summary is that the mine has been operating for about 150 years. BLM told the miners they didn’t know about it until two archeologists came across it and reported it. The miners have been filing paperwork required by law for all of that time, and Joseph says he has seen proof of their legal standing. The miners now feel like they are being harassed based on several law enforcement and BLM visits to the mine. They were also asked to remove all structures and equipment. That would be an impossible feat financially and physically due to the length of time required and size of the structures. That sums up my understanding of that part of the speech.
What I found the most captivating about Joseph Rice’s speech was his citation of constitutional law and well educated explanation of due process. I love my rights, and it seemed pretty simple. The miners felt they were not physically or financially able to protect the mine until they could have their day in court. Oath Keepers were called to help secure the property until court, not to create a stir, make the news or have a free camp out in the beautiful hills of Galice. The Oath Keepers genuinely believe that their presence has allowed the miners time to file paperwork to get due process in a court of law and that they will peacefully inhabit the property until that happens. That sounded fair to me. They were not inciting riot, or asking for any disrespectful action. They only want to wait it out, to make sure due process happens. The speech was tactful, although it showed great disappointment in BLM’s handling of the conflict and concern for citizen rights.
Joseph addressed 2nd Amendment rights too. He noted that the 2nd Amendment give us all the right to own guns to protect our life, liberty and happiness. It doesn’t give us the right to shoot people per Joseph. He was not addressing the supporters at that point – seemed like they were on board with his statements about 2nd Amendment Rights. He seemed to be addressing the media. I actually saw very few guns at the rally. Maybe they were all concealed, but this was not a “scary gun nut rally” as rights rallies are often portrayed in the media. Each round of chat was followed by reserved applause, not torches and pitchforks.
Joseph’s history of the mine, conflict and constitutional law chat was followed by the two primary miners in the conflict, George Backes and Rick Barclay. This was where the “rally” came in. These guys talked about their love for the area, their country, their mine, and how they don’t have the resources to protect themselves legally or physically from BLM’s unwarranted actions. They thanked the public, Oath Keepers and the supporters for all they have done to try and preserve their rights and livelihood. One seemed a little choked up. These guys didn’t seem to be “wackos” or “crazy old miners.” They were also respectful and humble. My best judgement observed a couple of hard working guys that just want to do what they do: mine for gold on their historic claim. They both said they didn’t want or ask for this battle, nor intended to be know as the poster children for mining rights. I am now thinking they needed to do the right thing by their fellow miners and citizens as this case could set precedence in other, future cases.
Oddly enough, BLM was not open today. They closed their offices around Southern Oregon for the safety of their employees per local TV news stories. Not sure what they needed to protect themselves from based on what I saw. The amount of wasted tax revenue and lost time in processing the public’s business by closing offices was a bit of an overreaction, but I do realize BLM would not have known. I did speak with one of Oath Keepers security staff who had identified two BLM field agents at the rally. Since the miners could not file paperwork with the office closed, one does have to wonder if it was more retaliation than safety that lead to the decision to close. That is curiosity on my part, not fact or an accusation.
This was large (150+) group of local citizens with a few watchdog friends from out of the area that came together in support of their neighbors. They were normal, genuine, non-threatening citizens. Heck, that mine is less than an hour from my house. At this point, the miners, Oath Keepers and supporters had handled themselves with dignity, respect and work to educate the visiting news agencies. I for one am certain that they SHOULD have due process and I think there is no problem peacefully protecting the property until that happens. Why not? Due process of law I THE AMERICAN WAY.
So with my mind at peace with what I observed, my buddy then scooted to the back of the parking lot. We grabbed his drone equipment and to try film the crowd and the BLM property from the air for fun. DENIED. BLM is in close proximity to the airport. The security feature in the drone would not allow it to be flown that close to the airport. I was a little disappointed and a lot glad. Every Tom, Dick and Harry should not be able to buzz our airports with a drone. That would be an accident waiting to happen.
Southern Oregon Mining District Prepares to protect land from BLM. UPDATES POSTED
Oath Keepers, Heirs of Patrick Henry and Blain Cooper on site from around the country to offer protection & operational support
News Resources for Galice, Oregon (northwest of Grants Pass and outside of Merlin) Miner vs BLM Standoff:
JOIN Scanner Group on Facebook for News Updates
National Oath Keepers page for this dispute
The Sugar Pine Mine Dispute (PR from the Miners)
Josephine County Sheriff’s Press Release 4/14/2015
Google Map of General Area
Oath Keepers Josephine County Operational Alerts
Heirs of Patrick Henry, Northwest Updates on Facebook
Blain Cooper, Veteran & Rights Activist on Facebook
Galice Mining District on Facebook
Galice Mining District Website
Map to Galice Oregon
UPDATE: Sheriff Death Threats – Oath Keepers Speak
National Oath Keepers sends a message that death threats
are unacceptable and asks for more “boots on the ground.”
April 17, 2015
Apparently the Sheriff of Josephine County has received DEATH THREATS. A statement on the National Oath Keepers website is asking for more “boots on the ground,” donations and level headed action. In addition, they publicly noted that it is unacceptable for their members to make threats. In addition, they claim they are not leaving until there is a resolution through due process of law.
Leadership locally for Oath Keepers has changed once from Joseph Rice, and has now changed back to him based on the contacts they provide for volunteers. Interesting that they still seem to be fixated on the word “standoff.” Mentioned several times on that page, although the dictionary is pretty clear. Even uses a Government Land Rights example. Not sure why that matters, but read for yourself.
Mainly, we should all care about how this land rights battle plays out. It will likely set precedence for for future cases. I’ve talked to two people that are no longer in mining and claim BLM pursued them in several ways. I’ve also talked to people that say there is a simple process to review this as long as everyone shows their records. We will see how it plays out and report more here.
UPDATE: Sugar Pine Mine Offers Details of Dispute
Why the fuss with Sugar Pine Mine, BLM, Oath Keepers,
Galice Creek, and the Galice Mining District
April 16, 2015
There has been a lot of mystery and intrigue around this mining standoff thing. Not a big, scary standoff in our opinions, but a group of citizens with protection and a government agency in civil disagreement. Now the Sugar Pine Miners from Galice have publicly available details posted for viewing. Check out what they have to say!
AGAIN, we are going to give applause to the Josephine County Sheriff’s office for their mediation and to the citizens including the miners and their protection for keeping the peace yet standing up for what they believe in. Also BLM for standing down, and allowing due process. No Bundy Ranch here! Southern Oregon doesn’t roll that way. Thanks for the detailed write-up Sugar Pine Mine & for your tollerance of the public’s and our interest in the story Galice Mining Community!
Scanner Group would ALSO LIKE TO INVITE BLM or any other involved party to their choice of an unbiased interview or a Scanner Group sponsored public debate. If the concerned entities are willing, we would be glad to organize it fairly for you and on neutral ground that we would supply. The attorneys may not allow that of course, but public support and understanding could make history not repeat itself.
UPDATE: Josephine County Sheriff Press Release
April 14, 2015
The Josephine County Sheriff’s office send a press release stating that BLM has no intention of taking the property before the miners have due process. The miners and Oath Keepers and a rep. from BLM in Eugene have met separately with the Sheriff. KUDOS to the Sheriff’s office for not only keeping the peace and mediating, but for their statement about protecting the constitution. WELL DONE JOCO SHERIFFS OFFICE! (Read the letter by clicking it).
UPDATE: OR Miners & Oath Keepers Refine Ops
Citizens offering support in protection from
standoff between Miners & BLM
UPDATE: April 14, 2015
Today Scanner Group, LLC posted a Member’s call to action to enact a supply drop off for Oath Keepers and Galice Mining District members guarding private mining claim property in the Galice, Oregon area Northwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Heirs of Patrick Henry Northwest, a rights activist group and Blain Cooper, a Veteran and rights activist well known on the internet and news are on site. Sources say BLM has stated they have no intent to take the property without due process but has also sent mixed signals mentioning a structure on the property may be burned down if not removed.
Miners & BLM Standoff in Galice, Oregon:
160+ year old mining district in battle with
the U.S. Government with Oath Keepers on site.
BREAKING NEWS: April 12, 2015
THE STORY: There is potential for government action in the lurch, and ongoing preparation by a group of citizens to stand their ground in Josephine County. Protection from ex-military & civil rights groups has been obtained, and we now know people from out of the area are on the scene. The potential for use of Jackson County and State of Oregon resources to assist a strapped Josephine County has our eye on the Galice, Oregon Area.
THE INSIDE TRACK: Trusted Scanner Group Members close to the situation have informed us of a standoff brewing in Josephine County between Galice, Oregon Miners and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The miners are members of the Galice Mining District, founded in 1853, now more than 160 years old. The mining district has been under pressure from BLM to abandon their mining claims and disband, through legal actions that were apparently thwarted in court. As a separate action, BLM is requiring a long-standing structure be removed by a drop-dead date last week, but the Mining District refuses to remove the structure. LockedandLoadedNews.com reported on April 11th, that BLM has threatened to respond by burning down the disallowed structure at some point, if it is not removed. Now other, militia-like groups are getting involved in this property rights battle on the ground-level. A NEW LAYER OF PROTECTION? These events caught the attention of several civil rights groups in the region, including Oath Keepers, a group you may recall protecting business property from looters during the Ferguson race riots. One of our sources noted that the Oath Keepers, with their well trained, screened and experienced veteran and ex-law enforcement elite membership is organizing operations to stand between the Miners and BLM to ensure that property is not seized or damaged under the remote cover of a backwoods mining location. They are also concerned about lack of public knowledge of the historic mining claim and yet-to-be main stream media reporting. Heirs of Patrick Henry, Northwest, a Bill of Rights advocacy group, various local families, and concerned citizens have volunteered to aid and support the Mining District in standing their ground. With the dust barely settled on the Bundy Ranch, and this District seeming to have rights that were maintained and intact, from decades before BLM existed, this story has our interests. We hope this development will remain peaceful and will report back as we hear more from sources close to it. Join Scanner Group to get fast access to the latest crime, public safety news in Southern Oregon.
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