Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Who Are Dwight and Steven Hammond? Donald Trump Pardons Father and Son

Who Are Dwight and Steven Hammond? Donald Trump Pardons Father and Son

Their imprisonment sparked armed activists to take over a federal wildlife refuge in protest of their treatment and government land-use regulations, according to The Guardian.

"If the Hammonds are jailed for unintentionally losing control of a backfire, so should BLM agents, whose gross mismanagement causes death and destruction every summer", she said.

The pardons are the latest in a growing list of clemency actions by Trump, who has been using his pardon power with increasingly frequency in recent months.

Three years later, prosecutors were granted an appeal which increased the Hammonds time behind bars to that a minimum of five years.

State police shot and killed an occupier after they say he reached for a pistol at a roadblock.

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In a statement Tuesday announcing the pardon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized uncertainties in the case and the prison terms and fines the Hammonds had already completed.

While numerous Hammonds' supporters didn't approve of the takeover, they saw the Obama administration's pursuit of longer prison sentences as vindictive.

The U.S. attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, justified the mandatory sentences, saying they're "intended to be long enough to deter those like the Hammonds who disregard the law and place firefighters and others in jeopardy".

"They now think they have a friend in the White House who does not value public lands", said Aaron Weiss, media director for the Center for Western Priorities, a nonprofit that advocates protecting public land.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who represents the area that includes the Hammonds' ranch, cheered Trump's pardon as a win against federal overreach.

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Sanders recounted the series of events that left the 76-year-old and 46-year-old Hammond father and son sentenced to five years each in prison after an "overzealous appeal" under the Obama administration. In both those years, the USA government said the Hammonds set fires that spread onto land managed by the [Bureau of Land Management].

"I am not going to apply the mandatory minimum ... because, to me, to do so under the 8th Amendment would result in a sentence which is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses here", explained trial Judge Michael Hogan.

The perceived unjust sentence for the Hammonds inspired Ammon Bundy to lead an armed standoff in early 2016, when a group of armed men broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

The statement added: "Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency".

Read the full White House statement here.

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The Bundys and seven other members of the right-wing militia that took part in the armed occupation were acquitted of all charges in October of 2016, a decision that set what one critic called "a unsafe and far-reaching precedent for the kind of paramilitary intimidation and right-wing violence that underpins their movement".

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