Armed Militia Takes Over Lansingburg OTB
By Fred Furnace
Published January 17th, 2016
LANSINGBURG — What started as a nonviolent demonstration Saturday at a local off-track betting parlor has turned into a standoff here between police and an armed militia.
A group of anti-government farmers organized a “peaceful protest” at the Lansingburg OTB “to raise awareness of the deleterious impact of wagering on New York's agriculture community.”
The peaceful sit-in soon turned ugly, however, after several of the farmers "couldn't help themselves" and placed what turned out to be losing pick-4, pick-6, and exacta wagers at racetracks across the state.
At that point, the farmers demanded their money back, claiming the losses were further proof the state’s OTB offices are unconstitutional and exist solely to frustrate the viability of family farming across the state.
When the OTB tellers — two elderly women, who officials say are specifically trained “to not take shit from anyone" — refused to refund the money, the farmers took up arms and barricaded themselves inside the OTB building.
"We are peaceful people," said Armon Bundy, an anti-government farmer armed with six high-powered automatic rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammo. "We came here simply to exercise our rights to peacefully protest, support our fellow farmers and raise awareness for the gambling plight of our brothers.
"But then my dad lost his last $20 betting the sixth race at Yonkers, and OTB refused to do right by him," he added. "So screw it. We are done being peaceful. We’ve got guns and we’ve got ammo. We will stay here forever if we have to. What’s right is right.”
Why the protestors brought along an entire arsenal of weapons for a peaceful protest remains unclear, but Lansingburg police spokesperson Carla Quinella said no shots have been fired and authorities remain optimistic the farmers will ultimately surrender without violence.
“We are pretty sure the inhospitable conditions inside the OTB building will cause these anti-government whack-jobs to give up eventually,” she stated.
Quinella said the "inhospitable conditions" include the foul stench caused by years of cigarette smoke and old-man flatulence, as well as “that general feeling of despair and desperation" that permeates every OTB location.
"Plus, the only vending machine inside the building hasn’t been re-filled since 2011," Quinella said. "Those farmers will have no choice but to surrender eventually."