Much has been written about law enforcement’s reluctance to arrest the mainly white group of armed militia men currently occupying the Malheur national wildlife refuge in Burns, Oregon.
Critics have said the response would have been different if Black men or Muslims had seized a government building. However, there is at least one Black man among the protesters. His name is Brandon Dowd, according to The Guardian, and he is encouraging more Black people to visit the protest to get a first-hand impression of what’s going on.
Dowd told The Guardian he was concerned about government overreach, especially when it came to land use.
“I just had enough of … seeing others being mistreated,” said Dowd, who was raised in Detroit. “I just felt like it was time for me to be a part of it.”
Although the Oregon protesters, who are occupying a federally owned building and illegally using government cars and computers, claim they are peaceful, they have been widely mocked in the media. When the militiamen asked for donations, some pranksters responded by sending them dildos, nail polish and glitter. However, Dowd says Black people could learn a lot from them.
“I would encourage more black people to come here to get educated,” Dowd said. “They could learn a lot being here and talking to these constitutional lawyers.”
Dowd advises Black Lives Matter to copy the militia movement’s playbook. He encouraged BLM activists to look into the grand jury model as a way of addressing grievances. Dowd claims the grand jury model allows citizens to unseat law enforcement officials who are not doing their job.
“Go to the sheriff in your county, and if he is corrupt, then you need to raise a grand jury on your own and outline the documentation of the wrongdoing,” he said. “This is what this is about – finding a better way of doing things.”
Dowd has expressed admiration for Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who engaged in a 2014 standoff with the federal government, but he has remained silent about Bundy’s racist remarks. Bundy was first deemed a hero by the right-wing media, but they distanced themselves after he said Black people were better off under slavery. Dowd also hasn’t said anything about the social problems in Detroit.
Law enforcement officials have seemed reluctant to arrest the Oregon protesters, who have committed several crimes, but they may be waiting for the right time to apprehend them.
The Associated Press reported that Oregon State Police arrested Kenneth Medenbach for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle Friday. Medenbach was apprehended at a Burns grocery store while driving a government car stolen from the wildlife refuge.
So while Dowd is free to flout the law in Oregon, he might be awaiting a host of charges when he leaves the wildlife refuge or returns home.