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June 29, 2016

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Harry Reid says Oregon activists ‘cannot continue breaking the law’

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Mark Graves / The Oregonian / AP

Protesters roam Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Burns, Ore., on Sunday, Jan 3, 2016. Armed protesters took over the refuge Saturday after participating in a peaceful rally over the prison sentences of local ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Washington.

Sen. Harry Reid called for restraint in the federal response to a group of armed anti-government activists, including two sons of rancher Cliven Bundy, who have occupied a federal building in rural Oregon but warned “they cannot continue breaking the law.”

“I am very patient. We should all be very patient,” Reid said in a news conference in Las Vegas today. “But not for too long.”

The senate minority leader criticized the elder Bundy during a similar standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in 2014 and hasn’t changed his position since then. “This is the same crowd that performed their skulduggery up in Mesquite," he said.

The Oregon occupiers are protesting the imprisonment of two ranchers who set fires there that spread to government-owned lands and are calling for federal territory to be turned over for private use.

That was a contention that Reid rejected, saying that because the land in question, which includes a migratory bird sanctuary set aside in 1908, was owned by the federal government that “the people have it right now. It’s partly yours.”

Reid spoke in advance of a Democratic party dinner Wednesday, which will feature speeches from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Reid said that moving the Nevada caucuses up to third in the primary season brought Western issues to greater prominence in the election, including opposition to a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, which Reid called “scrap metal.”

The senator added that he would not be endorsing a candidate prior to the Democratic caucuses on Feb. 20.

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