One hundred armed militants marched into a federal building in Oregon and took it over. Led by Ammon Bundy, son of noted militant Cliven Bundy, the militia seized and occupied Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Burns, Oregon, protesting against the prosecution of two local ranchers.
Although heavily armed, bent on a standoff with police, and organised by militiamen with prior criminal convictions, the police did not resist. No tear gas was sprayed, not a single shot was fired, nor a single arrest made. Rather, the seizure of federal property went unchallenged by police.
The events in Oregon unfolded during a broader impasse of social unrest, police brutality and intensifying Islamophobia in the United States. An impasse when the racial identity of protesters and citizens either creates suspicion of violence or terrorism or, in the case of the militiamen in Oregon, not only negates that suspicion, but equips them with the privilege and power to march across state lines, brandish heavy weaponry, and squat in a federal building without meeting resistance.
The militia march and takeover stands as lurid a demonstration of white privilege as any, illustrating the broad protest rights, privileges and deference denied to Black Lives Matter rallies; and a refusal to brand the white militiamen as terrorists in the midst of imagined and embellished Muslim terror in the US.