Evangelist Franklin Graham flies to Oregon as protesters prepare to surrender

February 11, 2016 in News by RBN

USA Today | Doug Stanglin & Jane Onyanga-Omara

Evangelist Frank Graham arrived Thursday at a federal wildlife refuge to help facilitate the surrender by four holdouts who said they were ready to end their 41-day occupation.

The latest dramatic twist in the takeover, which began Jan. 2,  came only hours after FBI agents arrested Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the father of the protesters’ jailed leader who flew to the state in a show of support.

Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, arrived at the standoff site in Burns, Ore., around 8 a.m. PT., at about the time when thee one of the occupiers, Sean Anderson, said the group planned to turn themselves in at a nearby FBI checkpoint.

Graham, who is based in North Carolina, said on his Facebook page that he had been speaking with the four holdouts by phone everyday at the request of the protesters and the FBI.

“Last night I was on the phone with them for several hours, was able to have prayer with them, and they have said they would come out today,” he said in the Wednesday night post. “I am on my  way there and hope to be there by 7:00 AM their time. Please keep them, law enforcement officials, and all involved in your prayers, that everyone will be safe.”

In the final moments leading up to the planned surrender, discussions between the holdouts and Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore, a sympathizer who flew to Oregon, were being livestreamed in an online broadcast.

The occupiers said they were unarmed. “If they kill us, that’s on them,” Sean Andeson, one of the occupiers, told Fiore.

Fiore said she was in a tent close to the refuge with six FBI agents and was awaiting the arrival of Graham before the surrender could take place.

At one point, when Fiore said the FBI agents with her were “not hostile,” Andeson said he suspects there were “snipers all around us.”

Fiore seemed to agree, but added, “That’s why staying alive is key because a dead man can’t talk, and a dead man can’t write. We have to stay together and stay alive.”

The FBI said agents “moved to contain” the last four holdouts Wednesday by hemming them in with armored vehicles at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, which they have occupied since Jan. 2.

“We reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge,” Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge, said Wednesday in a statement.

Bundy, 74, was arrested by the FBI after stepping off a plane at Portland International Airport on Wednesday evening. He was taken to Multnomah County jail.

A post on Bundy Ranch’s Facebook page said: “Cliven Bundy just landed in Portland; we are being told by eyes on ground that he was surrounded by SWAT and DETAINED.”

His sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were jailed following the Jan. 26 arrest of several members of the armed militia group on charges of interfering with federal officers.

One protester, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was killed during a confrontation with the FBI and state troopers after fleeing a police roadblock.