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Jan 4, 2016 8:51 PM

Rochester man with ties to Oregon protesters worries it could end badly

ROCHESTER - Armed protesters in Oregon refuse to leave the wildlife sanctuary they've occupied since Saturday.

They’re accusing officials of unfairly punishing ranchers who refused to sell their land.

Jerry DeLemus, of Rochester, is familiar with the leaders of the protest. He spent time on the Bundy ranch in Nevada in 2014 as their head of security when they were in a similar situation with the federal government.

“Their point being is that the federal government doesn't own everything in this country, they would like us to think they're our rulers but they are not,” DeLemus said.

The Bundys say this protest is in support of Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond. The father and son were sentenced to five years in prison for arson after a supposed control burn on their property spread to U.S. government land.

“What they're trying to do is land grab, that's what they're doing,” Hammond said.

Tonight, the sheriff's department has sent a message to the protesters, telling them to go home.

“You said you were here to help the citizens of Harney County, that help ended when a peaceful protest became an armed occupation,” Sheriff David Ward said.

“I talked to them, they didn't break any locks they haven't done anything like that at all, and they just went in and moved in and keeping it open to the public,” DeLemus said.

The Hammonds turned themselves in Monday afternoon and say they don't want help from the Bundy group.

DeLemus plans to travel to Oregon to serve as a mediator. He's worried about what could happen to the protesters.

“They're going to be set up to either be arrested or maybe killed, because they're pretty firm on staying,” DeLemus said.

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