The Stand at Klamath Falls
Eyewitness Account - Report Number Three
By: Jeff Head, Augustr 18, 2001

Myself and my youngest son Jared arrived back at the headgates in Klamath Falls, Oregon, at 3:50 AM on Saturday morning after driving all night from Emmett, Idaho. I had been involved from the time the headgates were opened by the farmers in defiance of a federal court order that was destroying these families for frivolous and ill defined reasons, and Jared and I had been there a few weeks earlier, following up on that initial experience.

Around 8:30 AM I got up and took a walk over to the headgates. I noticed that the area was set up in preparation for the upcoming activites Sunday-Tuesday when Church service, rallies, receptions of the relief convoys and distribution of material would take place. LOTS of preparation remaining to be done. I also noticed that the Federal officers had raised their own flag over in the "compound". It's staff was right side up, contrasted to the distress signal continuing to be broadcast by the local farmers whose flag was displayed accordingly upside down.

As usual, and in keeping with the gratitude and graciousness of the folks here, we were served a full breakfast. The folks doing the cooking are some of the unsung heroes in this. They have unselfishly cooked for all those who are helping them, morning, noon and night. After eating we talked to the Fish and Wildlife representative and one of the senior BLM law enforcement officers there at the gate leading to the headgates. Bill Ranson, one of the organizers of the Klamath Relief Fund was there doing the speaking. He presented them a great dialog about the science of the "sucker fish" and how flwaed it was. The Fish and Wildlife individual stated, that although they were concerned about the reports of "extremeists" converging with the convoys, that the administration was being influenced by the peaceful efforts of the farmers to date. He also indicated he was sympathetic and hoped they could go home soon. Bill clearly stated that those reports were most probably the work of those oppossed to the farmers and then completed his dialog regarding the sucker fish.

When they were completed I introduced myself to the Fish and Wildlife man and said the following,

"Sir, with all due respect, the very fact that we are sitting here talking about the "science" of the sucker fish when there are 1400 honest and patriotic American families, many of them verterans, being destroyed by this decision is a travesty. Where is common sense? Where is decency? This is not about the sucker fish and anyone who lives in this part of the country knows it. Those fish would survive fine if the lake was drained to mud ... and we all know it. This is about regualtory madness and the desire to control the land. We know this and are not about to forget it. in the end, our ability to retain our property rights hinges on decisions such as this."

We then parted and nothing more was said.

A little later, Jared and I were shown a magnificant quilt that two of the older women had created commemorating the entire event. They are raffling it off on Tuesday at yhe large gathering and it is already bringing in A LOT of money for the relief.

Anyone wanting to buy tickets can do so at the Kalamth Fair grounds for a dollar a ticket, or twelve tickets for ten dollars. We are suggesting (npot binding and not a requirement) that whoever wins the quilt consider donating it to the Klamath museum since it is truly a historical item.

We are hoping for tens of thousands of people here on Tuesday. We are asking anyone within driving distance to be here Tuesday morning at 10 AM when those events take place. The city has issued a permit for the event when the convoys arrive ... but they are only allowing EIGHT vehicles in the official parade. They don't want to congest traffic on a workday. What will happen is that the other hundreds of vehicles will come anyway and they'll just obey the trafiic lights and congest traffic all the more.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday, August 18th, several of us went to the airshow (three teams of two) that was going on at the local national guard airbase to gather signatures for the petition. Soon after starting to gather signatures, my team (myself and Jared) had a line of six or eight people lining up to sign. Within a few minutes, Jard and I were surrounded by Airforce Military Security, siz to eight armed men who stopped the signatures and wanted to see what we were having people sign. They young man (I'd say mid-twenties) who read it, said after minute, "Heck, this is nothing, off duty I'd sign this". But he had to wait for his Chief and in a few minutes the deputy commander for the base and the Chief showed up. The Chief simply told us that they could not allow the solicitation of a petitioon on the base. We stopped and within a few minutes they had gathered one of our other teams. The third team was never noticed and we met at the appointed time with another 70 signatures for the petition. No pictures of the security detail were allowed.

A number of us stayed up late into the night by the headgates talking and watching films. Another great evening of discourse about current circumstances and clear understanding of what is at stake. Late that night, an individual came by and indicated he had been at a bar in town where a hafl dozen people had been drinking and indicating they were going to come over here and break up the camp. I immediately put Jared to bed and we waited but nothing ever materialized. Rumor flies on a thousand winds.

Early Sunday morning, our first truck, a one ton flatbed, arrived from Montana. A couple heading down to move the mother inlaw from California up to Montana. They had 3300 lbs. of feed with them which we helped off load.

After unloading the truck, we called the Kalispell station where the idea for the convoys had first germinated four weeks ago while I was on a talk show direct from the headgates. A local farmer had called in and suggested the idea to the talk show host and it had taken off from there, the good people in Kalispell making it happen and then the folks in Klamath spreading the word and creating other convoys from there. When we got them online, the immediately put "Big Jim" on the air to announce that he had arrived and explain what was going on at the headgates.

Finally, I MUST share with you the closing of a speech that will be delivered by Bill Ranson, a local rancher and businessman, and one of the individuals helping organize the Klamath Relief Fund. This speech will be delivered in California today at one of the convoy stops and ill also be delivered on Tuesday at the main rally. Please listen to these passionate and heartfelt words:

In cosing, I would like to address President Gorge Bush.

I would ask you Mr. President: as you ride around your ranch, admiring and enjoying the land you own and love, to think of the pioneer families that helped shape this great nation, whocse children's children and their children are in jeopardy of losing their farms and ranches. To think of the war veterans, who fought for our freedom, who are now in jeopardy of losing their farms and ranches. Mr. President, think of the loggers and miners, who worked hard to build this great nation, who have already lost their livelihood and way of life. Mr. President, these people from rural America helped elect yoou as president. Don;t let us down! Stop this horrible onslaught on rural America. Let us return to the jobs and way of life that were promised and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

And finally, here is a compilation of qoutes from farming families and others here in the Klamath Basin. This was compiled by Cindy Smith.
"For generations my famil has owned this land. We have a deed of sale signed by President Herbert Hoover himself, promising we'd always have water to our fields."

"I am a cattle rancher that for years has taken pride in building the best herd of cows I could afford, prime breeding stock. I had to sell them all off, at a lower price than what I would normally get because I could not afford to feed them. Yes, I got money for the sale, but it took me, my wife and kids ten years to develop that herd. What do we do next year?"

"We are a family that will have our home foreclosed on. Without our crop money, we can;t afford to live here anymore."

"We are migrant workers thatlove the Klamath Basin. We had to move on as soon as we heard that there was no work this year."

"I am a land owner. Last year myland was valued at over$2000 an acre.Now they say it is worth $28,00 an acre."

"I am a business owner. My business has lost at least 25% of usual sales over this time last year."

"I am the wife of a crop farmer. For the first time in our lives, I am going to the food bank for help in feeding my family. We have no monet for food."

"My wife and I are senior citizens. We have lived here all of our married lives. Now we are too old to farm our land, so we rent it to others. The rented land supplements our social security. This summer we could not rent out any of our land, and our social security does not cover all of our needs."

The people of Klamath Basin are not complainers, whiners, or used to looking for hand outs. We are hard working, patriotic Americans that love our land, our jobs and way of life.

I hope all Americans will hear these voices and carefullt consider the ramification to all of our liberties and ways of life by letting this reprehensible travesty continue or stand. Please, take action to support these folks and end the assault on liberty and our rights.

That's the status as of now, Sunday morning, 11 AM at the headgates.


Jeff Head




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