Rosa Parks & Ammon Bundy, The Oregon Protester, Have Nothing In Common & Here's Why
Four days after a group of armed protesters in Oregon took over a government building to protest what they consider to be unfair land rights imposed by the federal government, the group’s leader Ammon Bundy compared himself to Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon who famously refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in 1955, according to the Washington Post. He shared his controversial remark on Twitter early Wednesday morning, writing, “[we] are doing the same thing as Rosa Parks did. We are standing up against bad laws which dehumanize us and destroy our freedom.” But, as many Twitter users have already pointed out, what he and his group are doing differs from Parks’ protest in some pretty significant ways.
Bundy and his militia group — Citizens For Constitutional Reform, as they are now calling themselves — have argued that they are peacefully protesting against what they consider to be an over-reaching and unfair government, according to CNN. As a result, they decided to break into the government-run Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building in Harney County, Oregon, arguing that the refuge has taken over land from 100 ranches. Based on his tweet, Bundy appears to believe that, just as it was unfair for the government to expect Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a bus due to laws that segregated people by race, it is unfair for the government to expect the people of Oregon to give up their land.
We are doing the same thing as Rosa Parks did. We are standing up against bad laws which dehumanize us and destroy our freedom.— Ammon Bundy (@Ammon_Bundy) January 6, 2016
But as the Washington Post aptly pointed out, the circumstances surrounding the two protests are markedly different. Firstly (and most obviously) Parks was protesting legally-sanctioned racism — the law that stated she must give up her seat because of the color of her skin. She wasn’t armed, and she didn’t illegally seize government property. Additionally, she was willing to go to jail and serve time as part of her protest. Bundy and his fellow militia members have very clearly communicated that they will not be going quietly or without a fight, saying “if force is used against us we will defend ourselves.” (With their weapons. Because they have them.)
Unsurprisingly, his comment has caused much debate on social media, with people outraged at the comparison:
Nice try. Rosa Parks didn't hijack a bus with an assault rifle because she didn't want to pay the bus fare. @Ammon_Bundy— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) January 6, 2016
Someone tell Ammon Bundy that Rosa Parks sought to be fully covered and protected by the law, not to be above the law.— HelenofIbadan (@HelenofIbadan) January 6, 2016
Rosa Parks resisted a state structurally designed to kill her. Ammon Bundy wants more from a state structurally designed to benefit him.— Eric Ritskes (@eritskes) January 6, 2016
.@Ammon_Bundy Rosa Parks didn't take over a city bus with an assault rifle, you oaf. But you wouldn't understand nonviolence & democracy.— CSGV (@CSGV) January 6, 2016
@Ammon_Bundy Rosa Parks was armed with courage. And when she was arrested, she complied with law enforcement. You sir, are NO Rosa Parks.— Afriend InHR (@AfriendInHR) January 6, 2016
Response to black women like Rosa Parks when fighting for their freedom vs response to Ammon Bundy fighting for his. pic.twitter.com/ETVKH8CRbp— Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) January 6, 2016
Some have questioned whether the Twitter account linked to Ammon Bundy is indeed his — it hasn’t been verified by Twitter, and was briefly suspended. But one thing seems clear: despite the backlash, it seems like Bundy absolutely believes that his protest is fair and within his rights. And it doesn’t look like he’ll be backing down any time soon.
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty