In a move that sends a “very friendly message to some very dangerous people,” President Donald Trump on Tuesday granted full pardons to Dwight and Stephen Hammond, the father-son team of Oregon ranchers whose 2012 conviction for arson inspired the right-wing Bundy militia’s armed takeover and month-long occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
“Trump’s pardon abandons human decency to signal encouragement of violence and extremism among his base.”
—Kierán Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity
“Trump’s pardon abandons human decency to signal encouragement of violence and extremism among his base,” Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told Common Dreams in an email denouncing the president’s decision. “The Hammonds are dangerous people with a long history of arson, illegal grazing, threatening violence against federal officials, and child abuse.”
The Hammonds’ crime of intentionally starting a fire on public land—which witnesses alleged was aimed at covering up the illegal slaughter of deer—carried a minimum prison sentence of five years, but a sympathetic judge decided in 2012 to hand the ranchers a far lighter sentence. Prosecutors later successfully appealed the lenient sentences, and the Hammonds were resentenced in 2015 to serve full five-year prison terms.
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