Over 8 months after federal forces brought an end to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, seven defendants — including Ammon and Ryan Bundy — were acquitted of all charges but one.
According to the New York Times, the seven defendants, who were either leaders of the standoff or the last to give up, faced multiple charges of disrupting operations at the refuge, along with federal weapons charges, after they occupied refuge buildings in protest of federal management of public lands and the convictions of two ranchers charged with arson.
Only Ryan Bundy faces a charge for stealing government property when he removed surveillance cameras at the refuge.
(Top row: Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and Shawna Cox.
Bottom row: Neil Wampler, David Lee Fry, Kenneth Medenbach, and Jeff Banta.)
The court's decision did not sit well with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who said “The occupation of the Malheur Reserve did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences."
According to The Oregonian, Lisa Ludwig, a counsel for Ryan, commented, "Maybe this is a lesson that that's not the way to engage with these people, who want nothing more than just to be heard, just to have a forum to talk about the injustices like the case of the Hammonds and the treatment of ranchers."
One occupation leader, LaVoy Finicum, was shot to death by law enforcement officers during an ambush of refuge leadership. The debate has not been settled for many people over whether Finicum was reaching for a gun at the time he was shot.
The decision to acquit could have a major effect on the court case of similar standoff earlier in Bunkerville, Nevada involving Ammon, Ryan, and their father Clive. Both cases have brought to light tensions between federal land managers and the citizens who use the land.
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