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Home » Blog » Ammon Bundy and other standoff protestors found “not guilty”

Ammon Bundy and other standoff protestors found “not guilty”

Ammon Bundy stands before a classic nevada landscapeRemember in the cold, early days of 2016, before all those celebrities died, when a bunch of disgruntled ranchers bore arms and took control of a wildlife refuge in Oregon? The occupation lasted an impressive forty-one days and was essentially streamed live via social media for all the world to see. Supporters prayed with the occupiers in real time. Detractors banded together online and mailed boxes of dildos. Anyone who wanted to be involved, in whatever way they wished to be involved, was free to do so.

Of course, it was also a standoff. After a certain point, nobody was allowed to join those holed up in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. And eventually, their numbers dwindled and the occupation came to a close.

Remember why it happened in the first place? Short answer: the Bundy’s. Long answer: Ammon Bundy, son of a Nevada Rancher who facilitated another standoff at his own ranch in 2014, gathered supporters to protest arson charges of two other ranchers, then led them to the wildlife refuge where they took up arms for the ‘real’ protest.

It’s all got to do with land. The federal government wants to take and has been taking acres and acres of land which previously belonged to ranchers like the Bundy’s. The Bundy’s, and others in similar positions, are naturally angry with the federal government for what they consider to be an overreach of power. These ranchers want to run their ranches on land they’ve ranched on for generations. The government wants to put the land under “permanent protection,” you know, to protect the animals and plants and natural landmarks. Or to make money from tourism. Who knows.

Anyways, after the Oregon standoff ended, Ammon Bundy and his six co-defendants found themselves on trial for conspiracy to impede federal officers and possession of firearms in a federal facility. Their trial lasted six weeks, resolving this past week after a five-day deliberation during which the jury found all defendants ‘not guilty’.


Yeah, the feds aren’t pleased. And they are quite surprised. The governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, expressed her thoughts on the verdict:

“The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences.”

Not pleased.

But for supporters of the ranchers, the courtroom victory doubled as a win for the Constitution. The federal charges were, in the end, determined to be an overreach of the feds’ jurisdiction. The armed protest was still just a protest, argued defense attorneys. In the words of one such lawyer, Matthew Schindler:

“For these defendants and these people, having a firearm has nothing to do with a threat or anything else. It’s as much a statement of their rural culture as a cowboy hat or a pair of jeans. I think the jury believed at the end of the day that that’s why the guns were there.”

Indeed, those who occupied the wildlife refuge toted their weapons as symbols. They didn’t kill anybody, although they did promise to defend themselves if it came to that. It didn’t, and now the case is closed: Ammon Bundy will return to Nevada where he’ll stand on trial yet again in February for the 2014 standoff at his father’s ranch. The others will, or have gone, their own separate ways.

That doesn’t mean the fight is over. President Obama wants to impose federal restrictions of the huge swath of land just south of the Bundy ranch in Nevada, a move which has obviously angered Ammon and his family. Furthermore, his victory in the Oregon courtroom has federal officials worried that other standoffs are inevitable — that people, seeing the outcome of the Malheur case, will have the guts to emulate the “protest.”

According to the Washington Post, Ammon Bundy has expressed his support of such actions if necessary:

“Read the Declaration of Independence. It says right there that if the government becomes abusive, it’s our right and our duty to abolish that government. If the government won’t restrain itself, whatever happens is their own fault.”

As of now, who knows what’ll happen. The Oregon standoff came as a surprise and we should expect no different from any future protests or occupations. After all, you can’t really expect a successful anti-government movement if the government knows about it. Whether you agree with the Bundy’s or the federal government, you’ll have to wait and see.

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