By Sarah Begley
January 5, 2016

Two men at the center of the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have reported to prison, prompting the Harney County Sheriff to tell the protestors occupying the federal building to leave the rural Oregon community.

Sheriff David Ward said in a statement on Monday that Dwight and Steven Hammond had turned themselves in on Monday and were in custody in California; the father and son ranchers had previously been convicted for setting fires on federal land. Though they had served time, a judge ordered them back to prison because their sentences did not meet the federal minimums.

Their plight prompted armed sympathizers (including two sons of Cliven Bundy) to take over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, and though officials have been proceeding cautiously, Sheriff Ward urged the protesters to depart. “You said you were here to help the citizens of Harney County,” he wrote. “That ended when a peaceful protest became an armed and unlawful protest.”

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