Federal and state police officers have exchanged gunfire with members of an armed group in Oregon, killing one person. The armed group had taken control of a federal wildlife area in the eastern part of the state.
A shootout happened when police stopped cars carrying members of the group. The protesters were reportedly driving to a meeting with people who live near the wildlife area.
The Oregonian online newspaper reported that the man who was killed was Robert Finicum. He often served as the group’s spokesman.
Reports say the leader of the group -- Ammon Bundy -- and six others have been arrested. It is not clear how many members of the group are still in control of the federal wildlife area.
The group, which calls itself “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom,” illegally occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2nd. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local officers had watched the protest for weeks without intervening. People from states as far away as Arizona and Ohio had joined the protest.
Some members of the group have for many years criticized the federal government’s management of public lands in the West.
Many people who live near the wildlife area had been calling for the group to leave. Many of them agree with the group’s criticism of the federal government. But they opposed the occupation of the wildlife area because they feared it would end violently.
The group wants control of federal lands to be given to local officials. The federal government controls about half of the land in the western United States. Disputes about management of public lands have been taking place for many years.
In the 1970s, Nevada and other states pressured the federal government to give state and local governments more control of the land. People want to use the land for cattle grazing, mining and timber harvesting.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on the Associated Press report. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
occupy – v. to take and keep control of (a town, foreign country, etc.) by using weapons or military power
intervene – v. to become involved in something (such as a conflict) in order to have an influence on what happens
wildlife – n. animals living in nature; wild animals (often used before another noun)
graze – v. to eat grass or other plants that are growing in a field, pasture, etc.