The Inlander published an article in which Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich expresses his opinion on the Hammonds case, the standoff in Oregon led by Ammon Bundy, and the militia in general. Unsurprisingly, the sheriff again aligns himself with the federal government against the militia. From the article:
Knezovich, a vintage law-and-order conservative, isn’t sympathetic to the Hammonds, citing the allegation that Hammonds were trying to “light up the whole country on fire” in order to cover up poaching.
“This wasn’t just a little, ‘Oops I burned some weeds,” Knezovich says. “This was done purposefully.”
But his condemnation of Ammon Bundy and the militia is even more pointed.
“They hijacked the Hammond issue for their own purposes,” Knezovich says. It particularly irritates him as a gun-rights supporter. “Quite frankly they are doing severe damage to their cause. Doing severe damages to their organization.”
He doesn’t buy the idea these militia members are part of the age-old American tradition of civil disobedience.
Of course not. Because the FBI told him that they aren’t:
“I’ve actually been following it fairly closely,” Knezovich says. “I’ve talked to the FBI about it. Especially after Matt Shea’s post from yesterday…. [He] basically stated that the FBI was trying to prevent a peaceful solution to the issue.”
According to the sheriff’s “The Threats We Face” presentation, the Bundys should have obeyed the federal government’s orders, and Anthony Bosworth did every law abiding gun owner a disservice, by exercising his 1st and 2nd Amendment rights in front of the federal courthouse. The sheriff admits that the presentation is offensive to the people in the liberty movement, but he doesn’t care. In fact, he’s getting ready to do it again:
“I’m updating it a little to address the issues that have happened since then — Paris, San Bernardino, this mess in Oregon right now,” Knezovich says. “It’s guaranteed to irritate the Tea Party further.”
In the spirit of irritating the Tea Party, the sheriff shares his fantasizes about arresting militia members:
He suggests such a confrontation could certainly happen in Spokane County in the future. “It could have happened with the federal courthouse building with [gun-rights activist Anthony] Bosworth,” Knezovich says.
So how would he, as sheriff, handle such a militia standoff?
“We’re not going to give them what they want,” Knezovich says. “We’re not going to make them martyrs… [But] if they come and point guns at people, they will be arrested.”
Let them protest until they burn themselves out, he says. Then, after they leave, that’s when you arrest them and file charges.
On January 3, Rep. Matt Shea shared his thoughts on the situation in Oregon on his Facebook page, saying, in part:
I suspect our Sheriff and President Obama will try to once again to paint Constitutionalists as domestic terrorists as part of the President’s gun control agenda this week. And therein is the problem. Divisive rhetoric by Obama and our Sheriff (with the only solution seemingly being taking away yet more rights “for our own good”) is only going to make the situation worse.
Knezovich took offense, demanding that Shea “quit lying about me supporting the President’s agenda”. However, the sheriff’s words and actions make it clear whose side he’ll be on, should the orders come to disarm the citizens.