Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN)Hillary Clinton said in an interview Wednesday that the militia members who have taken over a small federally owned wildlife refuge in Oregon should "should be charged."
Clinton: Oregon militia 'should be charged' with trespassing
Clinton waited day to comment on the issue days after the men, led in part by Ammon Bundy, the son of anti-government Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, took over the government office. She previously had declined multiple questions about the issue from reporters at events in New Hampshire and Iowa.
"I understand that the occupiers of the federal land have said that they will leave if the local community doesn't want them, and from what I'm seeing in the news, the local community doesn't want them," Clinton said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. "They should leave -- leave peacefully -- but they should be charged for the illegal action they have undertaken, trespassing, breaking and entering and the like."
The militia members took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge days ago, moved to denounce the five-year sentencing of Dwight and Steven Hammond -- father-and-son ranchers who were convicted of arson.
They have yet to specify how long they plan to stay, but some militia members have said they are prepared to die in the protest.
Clinton said situations like this should be solved in a "peaceful way" but that "people have to also be put on notice that the law has to be obeyed."
"Every incident where people are violating the law and potentially posing a threat to law enforcement and civilians has to be approached very carefully," Clinton said. "I think that the federal and local law enforcement officials are very carefully trying to manage this so it doesn't result in bloodshed."
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley also weighed in on the situation on Tuesday.
"This is lawless and criminal behavior," O'Malley said during a radio interview in Iowa. "I don't know what you call them, call them burglars, you call them terrorists, one thing that they are not is a militia."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the takeover "inappropriate" and said the group should "cease and desist." And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that while "every one of us has a constitutional right to protest against the government," they "don't have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others."