On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted pardons to a father, and son convicted in 2010 of intentionally and maliciously setting fire to public lands.
Dwight and Steven Hammond’s sentence became a right-wing rallying cry that led to the 2016 armed occupation of a federal building in Oregon.
The Hammond’s were convicted on arson charges after they set 2 fires that burned onto federal land. One of the 2 fires was set despite a prohibition on burning and even as firefighters were camped nearby.
In 2012, the Hammonds were given generous sentences by a retiring judge. The charges carried 5-year mandatory minimum sentences, however, the pair were given a much shorter sentence. Dwight served 3 months in jail and Steve served 1 year.
The sentences were challenged because they were less than the mandatory minimums. In 2015, an appellate judge ordered the Hammonds back to prison after ruling the sentence was illegal. In 2016, heavily armed militia groups and various anti-government, right-wing organizations seized the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters. They remained in the headquarters for over 3 weeks.
The armed standoff was largely orchestrated by the Bundy family who previously engaged in an armed standoff with federal officials in Nevada. The Oregon standoff ended on January 26, when Bundy was arrested. During that stop, another leader of the occupation, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by Oregon State Police.
The occupation claimed that the Hammonds were victims of extensive federal overreach. The president enjoys pardoning Right-Wing figures, especially ones who have been essentially considered martyrs for their right-wing beliefs.
In a statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Hammond’s resentencing was “unjust,” despite the fact that the original light sentence was illegal.
She said, “The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West. Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”