Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers in case that sparked 41-day occupation of national wildlife refuge – The Washington Post

President Trump on Tuesday pardoned father-and-son cattle ranchers in southeastern Oregon who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands, a move their supporters hailed as a shift in how the federal government approaches the West.

Trump’s decision to set aside the convictions of Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond could have major implications for how federal officials enforce rules on grazing and other activities on tens of millions of acres owned by taxpayers. The two men’s return to prison helped spark the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016. Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a rancher who acted as the protesters’ spokesman, was killed by a state trooper during an encounter between the armed occupation group and law enforcement — a shooting that led to charges against an FBI special agent.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said an “overzealous appeal” of the Hammonds’ original sentences during the Obama administration, which sent them back to prison, was “unjust.”

“The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West,” Sanders said, adding: “Justice is overdue.”

The Hammonds were convicted of crimes that require a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five years in prison under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. A judge, however, initially gave Dwight Hammond three months and his son Steven Hammond a year and a day behind bars.

The government won an appeal over the Hammonds’ sentences in 2015, and the two men were resentenced to serve out the remaining years of a five-year minimum.

Their convictions have drawn sharp rebukes from the local community amid allegations that the family was aggressively prosecuted using anti-terrorism statutes because they were outspoken about public land use in rural Oregon.

Jerome Rosa, president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said in an interview Tuesday that the pardons “send a signal that the new administration really understands the significance and the importance of what the ranching community provides for these Western landscapes.”

Rosa had raised the Hammonds’ case with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke–who oversees the Bureau of Land Management, on whose land the Hammonds operates–in April, and Zinke “said he would give his blessing to the president.”

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) also lobbied hard for clemency, discussing the matter with Trump in a June 29 phone call.

The pardons were Trump’s latest use of clemency power in high-profile cases — a tool he’s been inclined to use more often than his recent predecessors at this point in his presidency.

Several of Trump’s previous actions have been driven by television segments, celebrities, friends and White House advisers who have pressed their cases for pardons.

Among those on the receiving end have been controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio; conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza; and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to former vice president Richard B. Cheney.

Last month, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving a life term for nonviolent drug offenses, after meeting with reality television star and socialite Kim Kardashian West to discuss the case. He also posthumously pardoned heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson in May after being lobbied by actor Sylvester Stallone.

The men enjoy considerable support in Oregon, though some local residents expressed concern in recent months that clemency could embolden extremist groups in the area. News media outlets in the state — including the Oregonian — have published editorials advocating for a presidential pardon.

In her statement, Sanders characterized the arson as “a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land.”

She noted that Dwight Hammond is 76 and has served about three years in prison and that Steven Hammond is 49 and has served about four years.

Dwight Hammond got into a fierce dispute with managers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge long before the armed occupation, according to documents obtained by the Post. In letters to refuge directors in 1986, Hammond called employees “gestapo” and threatened that if he did not get unfettered access to grazing lands, “the problem will be greatly amplified.” In another, he said he’d “pack a shotgun in his saddle” as a way to enforce his position.

The following year, according to a handwritten note, federal employees at the refuge became fearful of “a real physical confrontation with Hammond.”

The two fires for which the Hammonds were convicted took place five years apart. The first one occurred in 2001, when, according to the Justice Department, witnesses told a jury that Steven Hammond “handed out ‘Strike Anywhere’ matches because they were going to ‘light up the whole country on fire.’” The second fire was five years later, and the men said it was a prescribed burn — lit in the midst of a burn ban and without permission from the BLM — that spread out of control.

In a statement Tuesday, Walden said the Hammonds “didn’t deserve a five year sentence for using fire as a management tool, something the federal government does all the time.”

However, Mike Pellant, a retired BLM ecologist in Idaho who still works as a consultant for the agency, said in a recent interview that unauthorized fires can quickly rage out of control, and destroy the sage brush habitat that many species depend on out West.

“It requires an environmental assessment, and the resources, to do the burn,” he said.

The group that occupied the Malheur wildlife refuge for 41 days in early 2016 had directly tied their actions to the Hammonds’ case and the broader frustration that has been building across the West over federal land control.

A remote bird sanctuary in southeastern Oregon, Malheur became the epicenter of that dispute when an armed group occupied it after a peaceful January 2016 march and rally aimed at supporting the Hammonds shortly before they reported to federal prison.

When the march ended, an armed group led by the rancher Ammon Bundy traveled to Malheur and announced plans to stay indefinitely, arguing that what happened to the Hammonds was “just one example, a symptom of a very huge egregious problem” happening nationwide.

“We’re out here because the people have been abused long enough, their lands and their resources have been taken from them to the point that it is putting them literally into poverty,” Bundy told reporters after the standoff began.

Law enforcement officials, though, argued that the occupiers were separate from the rally that drew hundreds to Burns and came with darker intentions.

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement after the wildlife occupation began. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

The Bundy family — led by Ammon’s father, Cliven — is perhaps the most well-known of the groups that have argued that expanded environmental and land regulation had infringed on their rights.

The family had sparred with the federal government for years. In 2014, Cliven Bundy had his own armed standoff with federal agents who sought to stop him from illegally grazing cattle on federal land. Authorities ultimately backed down at the time.

Federal officials have unsuccessfully sought to prosecute Bundy family members in connection with these showdowns. Ammon Bundy was among a group arrested and charged for the 2016 wildlife standoff, but they were acquitted later that same year.

Earlier this year, a federal judge dismissed criminal charges against Cliven Bundy, who was arrested in 2016 when he traveled to Oregon in the waning days of the Malheur occupation.

Leah Sottile in Portland contributed to this report.

Source: Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers in case that sparked 41-day occupation of national wildlife refuge – The Washington Post

Ore. Man Who Followed Black Muslim Couple for 20 Blocks and Hurled Slurs Bursts Into Tears After Being Charged With Hate Crime

KGW screenshot

A Portland, Ore., man is giving me a particular type of joy after breaking down crying and expressing his heartfelt “regret” after being charged with a hate crime earlier this week for allegedly hurling slurs and intimidating a black Muslim couple.

I confess, my favorite type of bigot is the crying bigot.

KGW reports that Frederick Nolan Sorrell, 49, was charged with second-degree intimidation after allegedly tormenting the Muslim couple on May 29.

Sorrell is accused of driving next to the couple for more than 20 blocks (seriously, that shit is frightening) and attempting to hit their vehicle several times while shouting, “Take off the fucking burka, this is America; go back to your fucking country,” and mimicking firing a handgun, according to the Oregon Committee of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Unsurprisingly, Sorrell, who made bail, pleaded not guilty in court Monday and quickly burst into delicious crocodile tears, claiming that he never meant any harm. He insisted that he was waving his hand and pointing his finger, not making a gun gesture.

“I never tried to run into them. I was just going to work. I never tried to follow them. I never tried to make contact with them after the fact,” Sorrell said while ugly-crying.

He did, however, acknowledge that he yelled at the couple.

“I guess my fear and paranoia, I just yelled out. I don’t go on social media looking to hate on people,” he said. “I guess my ignorance and my stupidity is why I opened my mouth, and I shouldn’t have, and I claim full responsibility.

“I don’t know who you are. I’m sorry I blurted out what I blurted out, my paranoia my fear. I don’t hate you; I don’t know you,” Sorrell added. “I don’t wish death upon these people.”

Then he had the gall to invite the victims to sit with him so he could have an “open conversation.”

“If the victims want to sit down and talk, I would love to sit down and have an open conversation with them and have an open mind and apologize,” he said. “I just don’t know them, and all I know is fear-based information.”

I admit, it takes some balls to yell shit at people who are minding their own business, then invite them to have a conversation with you to help you debunk whatever apparent “fear-based information” you have received.

KGW didn’t say whether the couple would take Sorrell up on his invitation. The judge ordered him not to go on Facebook anymore, where he also accused of making several discriminatory comments. Sorrell is due back in court in August.

Click here to view this interactive.tegna-media.com embed.

Read more at KGW.

 

Source: Ore. Man Who Followed Black Muslim Couple for 20 Blocks and Hurled Slurs Bursts Into Tears After Being Charged With Hate Crime

Emboldened white nationalists? Look no further than this liberal Oregon college town | OregonLive.com

Source: Emboldened white nationalists? Look no further than this liberal Oregon college town | OregonLive.com

#CrimingWhileWhite: Twitter users angry about Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy not guilty verdict – Salon.com

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the right-wing militants who last winter engaged in an armed takeover of a federally owned wildlife sanctuary in Oregon, were acquitted Thursday.

The militants, along with five co-defendants, were all found not guilty of federal conspiracy and weapons charges in their trial. Team Bundy had insisted that they were merely protesting the federal government and did not pose a threat to the general public, a contention with which the jury apparently agreed.

After the verdict was announced, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford made a scene when he demanded that the judge free his client immediately. Marshals allegedly had to use a stun gun on him to subdue him.

Ammon Bundy and company took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2, and stayed there until they were arrested more than a month later. They argued that the federal government should hand over the public lands they control to the individual states. They chose Malheur as their target because of a federal land arson case that was pending there for two ranchers — both of whom were unaffiliated with the Bundys and did not seek their assistance.

Much has been made about the double-standard separating how the Bundys were treated from the countless African Americans who are met with regular violence by law enforcement, often for much lesser offenses. Indeed, although Black Lives Matter and other non-white protesters are frequently arrested for non-violent demonstrations, the wealthy and white Bundy clan was able to carry out an armed takeover of a federal building, control it in a standoff for six weeks, and then ultimately get away with their crime.

Oddly enough, despite their zealous anti-government rhetoric, the unfair double-standard separating how white protesters and non-white protesters are treated seems to have eluded the Bundys. Twitter seems to have noticed this as well.


#CrimingWhileWhite: Twitter users angry about Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy not guilty verdict – Salon.com.

Source: #CrimingWhileWhite: Twitter users angry about Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy not guilty verdict – Salon.com

They’d be killed if they were black: The racial double standard at the heart of the new Bundy family standoff – Salon.com

At least 150 armed white men have seized control of a federal building outside of Burns, Oregon. They are led by a cadre which includes Ammon and Ryan Bundy. They are the sons of Cliven Bundy, the rancher who led a successful armed rebellion against federal law enforcement officers in Nevada last year. Since that event, Ammon and Ryan Bundy have been traveling the United States, meeting with other white “militia” groups, and inciting violence against the federal government.

The Washington Post reports:

“Those who want to go take hard stand, get in your trucks and follow me!” Ammon Bundy declared to rally-goers at the conclusion of Saturday’s event, according to several people who were in attendance. Not long afterward, the group had taken over the federal wildlife preserve.

Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said authorities from several law enforcement organizations were monitoring the ongoing incident.

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Several of the men occupying a federal wildlife preserve in Oregon have even recorded “goodbye” videos to their relatives in anticipation of being killed in battle with the United States government. Others have threatened to use deadly force if local police or other government forces attempt to remove the protesters from the land and building they have occupied.

The actions taken by Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and their supporters in Oregon are the very definition of terrorism and armed insurrection.

It would seem that the year 2016 has begun with a strident example of unapologetic white privilege in action.

[Oregon is a perfect place for such a gesture, as it was admitted to the Union in 1859 with a constitution that explicitly banned blacks from the state. Black Americans were barred from moving to Oregon until 1926. The Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist organizations used violence and other forms of intimidation in their (failed) efforts to prevent black Americans from settling in the area. At present, white nationalist organizations continue to claim the area as a foothold and primary base of operations.]

White privilege has many components. One of its most powerful aspects is the ability to twist reality, and by doing so, free white folks from personal responsibility (as well as group accountability) for their actions. There are many examples of this phenomenon in the United States. White men who commit mass shootings are “mentally ill” and not “terrorists.” Heavily armed white cops who kill unarmed and defenseless black people were acting “in reasonable fear of their lives.” White conservatives who gather by the dozens and hundreds and then point loaded guns at federal authorities are described by the right-wing news entertainment media as “patriots.”

And of course to be “white” is to be unmarked by “race.” Therefore, there will be little mention of the fact that these right-wing traitors are white men. Moreover, the connections between the Christian White Identity Movement will also go uncommented upon by the mainstream corporate news media.

The latter’s coverage of the events in Oregon has followed this script very closely.

The New York Times described the events in Oregon as “Armed Group Vows to Occupy Office in Oregon for ‘Years’.”

ABC News reported on a “Peaceful protest followed by Oregon wildlife refuge action.”

Surprisingly, Fox News, while still quite literally whitewashing their headline, came the closest to the truth with their, “Armed militia occupying Oregon government building.”

It does not take an amazing act of creativity to envision how the same actions—and much less—if taken by blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, or First Nations peoples would likely be described by the American corporate news media.

If Muslims took up arms, occupied a federal building, recorded martyrdom videos, and threatened to kill police and other authorities, they would be called “terrorists.”

Likewise, black Americans would be called “thugs,” “militants” or “anti-police.”

The White gaze is wonderful at focusing its distorted view outward on the Other. It fails miserably in terms of introspection. As such, there will be no discussion of the “religion,” “culture” and “values” of the white men who are the Bundy brothers’ rabble when such questions are obligatory for people of color and Muslims.

The armed white insurrectionists in Oregon will couch their behavior in the rhetoric of how they are fighting “tyranny” while waving around a Constitution they likely have not fully read (armed resistance to the federal government is a violation of Article 1) . In essence, the Bundy brother’s rabble are political cosplayers: they fly Revolutionary War era Gadsden flags, brandish “freedom muskets” (also known as AR-15 assault rifles), wrap themselves in the empty Americana kitsch symbolism of cowboys and the frontier, and show their bravery by occupying an empty federal building on a remote wildlife game preserve.

[The irony is wonderful. These Constitution fetishists worship an American past they do not fully understand. An example: the United States federal government under George Washington sent 13,000 soldiers to crush the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. The Bundy brothers’ rabble is likely not prepared for a similar outcome.]

In all, the “Oregon Insurrection” is a display of a type of aggrieved, right-wing, embattled, conspiranoid, white masculinity that incorrectly believes that freedom and democracy are predicated on gun fetishism and advancing the agenda of the National Rifle Association.

This is delusional thinking. It is no less dangerous because of that fact.

Writing for Esquire magazine, Charles Pierce summed up these perils perfectly:

This is another step down the road that leads to the broken shell of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. There are respectable people in our respectable politics who have been shamefully silent on the subject, and there are respectable people in our respectable media who seem terrified of calling this what it is. You want an example of the deadening effect of “political correctness” in our politics? Watch what the people running for president have to say about this episode. Look at how it is being framed already—or ignored entirely—by the elite political media. There is a constituency for armed rebellion in this country that is larger than any of our respectable political and social institutions want to admit. It is fueled by reckless, ambitious people who engage in reckless, ambitious rhetoric.

Ultimately, the recent events in Oregon are one more reminder of how white privilege is an existential state of hypocrisy.

African-American protesters in Ferguson were met with lethal rounds from police, faced down by snipers, were bludgeoned with nightsticks, shot with rubber and wooden bullets, spied upon by drones, and shown the full range of power that is capable of being summoned by America’s hyper-militarized police forces. The protesters in Ferguson were also confronted by the National Guard—a step that the governor of Oregon has so far not taken in order to neutralize the estimated 150 armed white men who are making terrorist threats and engaging in armed insurrection in his state.

A black 12-year-old boy who was guilty of the “crime” of playing with a toy gun in an “open carry” state was summarily executed by local police.

A black man who was selling loose cigarettes on a street corner in order to help support his family was choked to death by police while he screamed “I can’t breathe.”

White folks can brandish real weapons, steal public resources, engage in acts of terrorism and insurrection, and threaten to kill the police and other State authorities with little if any consequences.

Thus, the rule along the color line would seem to be as follows. The State escalates its violence against the defenseless and vulnerable if they are black or brown. In contrast, the State backs down and deescalates if the persons involved are white, right-wing and heavily armed.

This is our America.

Check out our video summary:

Internet Mocks Oregon Militia With #YallQaeda


They’d be killed if they were black: The racial double standard at the heart of the new Bundy family standoff – Salon.com.

Source: They’d be killed if they were black: The racial double standard at the heart of the new Bundy family standoff – Salon.com

Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge – The New York Times

Clockwise from top left, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Jeff Banta, Kenneth Medenbach, David Lee Fry and Neil Wampler.

Credit
Multnomah County Sheriff

PORTLAND, Ore. — Armed antigovernment protesters led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges stemming from the takeover of a federally owned wildlife sanctuary in Oregon last winter.

The surprise acquittals of all seven defendants in Federal District Court were a blow to government prosecutors, who had argued that the Bundys and five of their followers used force and threats of violence to occupy the reserve. But the jury appeared swayed by the defendants’ contention that they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat to the public.

In a sign of the tension that ran through the trial, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus R. Mumford, frustrated that the Bundys were not being released, was restrained by four United States marshals after an outburst.

“I knew that what my husband was doing was right, but I was nervous because the judge was controlling the narrative,” said Ryan Bundy’s wife, Angela Bundy, 39, in a telephone interview from the family ranch in Bunkerville, Nev. “But they saw the truth. I am just so grateful they saw it.”

It was not immediately clear how the not-guilty verdicts would affect the government’s strategy in another case stemming from the Oregon occupation, or a trial in Nevada that the Bundy brothers and their father, Cliven Bundy, face for an armed standoff there.

The Oregon occupation, at a remote and frigid reserve in the southeastern part of the state, was rooted in antigovernment fervor and captured the nation’s attention. It had a Wild West quality, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle.

In a monthlong trial here, the defendants never denied that they had occupied and held the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters for nearly six weeks, demanding that the federal government surrender the 188,000-acre property to local control. But their lawyers argued that prosecutors did not prove that the group had engaged in an illegal conspiracy that kept federal workers — employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management — from doing their jobs.

Eleven people had already pleaded guilty. One participant, LaVoy Finicum, was killed by the authorities during the standoff.

Ethan D. Knight, an assistant United States attorney, argued that the case was simple: Ammon Bundy had been selective in deciding which laws applied to him and had led an armed seizure of property that did not belong to him.

Mr. Mumford said acquitting Mr. Bundy would be a victory for all Americans. “They’re deceiving you,” Mr. Mumford said, gesturing to the prosecutors. “It’s the government that picks and chooses the rules it’s going to comply with.”

Ammon Bundy, 41, a business owner, testified for three days in his defense. He argued that the takeover was spontaneous and informed by religious belief. But prosecutors, through witnesses and their final arguments, said the group had used the threat of force and violence, crystallized by Mr. Bundy’s call for followers across the nation to come to the refuge with guns.

Video

Supporters Rejoice After Bundy Acquittal

After a jury unexpectedly acquitted Ammon and Ryan Bundy and a group of antigovernment protesters of federal conspiracy and weapons charges, supporters and defendants gathered outside the courthouse.


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on Publish Date October 27, 2016.


Photo by Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian, via Associated Press…

Watch in Times Video »

All seven defendants in the case were charged with conspiracy to impede federal employees from discharging their duties, and they also faced federal weapons charges and could have been given long prison sentences. The unanimous acquittals covered all the charges but one, a theft of government property charge against Ryan Bundy for removing cameras mounted at the refuge, with no verdict rendered on it.

In a statement, Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said she was disappointed.

“The occupation of the Malheur Reserve did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” the governor said.

After asking each of the defendants to rise, Judge Anna J. Brown read off the string of not-guilty verdicts. “It has been a long road,” she told the jury afterward.

Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Mr. Mumford, then requested that the Bundy brothers be immediately released. Judge Brown denied the request and said that because of pending charges in Nevada, the brothers would remain in federal custody.

Mr. Mumford became agitated. “He is going to be released,” he said in a raised voice.

Judge Brown rebuked him. “Mr. Mumford, you really need to not yell at me, now or ever again,” she said.

As Mr. Mumford continued his protest, four court officers surrounded him, and in the ensuing scuffle, documents and other items on the defense table were knocked to the floor and Judge Brown ordered the courtroom cleared.

Shawna Cox, the only woman among the defendants, expressed fury at the treatment of Mr. Mumford. “I am happy to be free,” she added.

Outside the courthouse, 75 to 100 people gathered after the verdict. One woman handed out American flags. Supporters of the protesters chanted: “Praise God. Praise God.”

One of the defendants, Neil Wampler, was congratulated by supporters. “On to the next one,” he said, alluding to the charges still pending against his fellow defendants.

Ammon Bundy, of Emmett, Idaho, and his brother Ryan, 43, of Cedar City, Utah, and their father were the poster images of the anger over federal control of vast stretches of Western lands. And the armed protesters — later co-defendants — who joined the brothers in their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge all had similar longstanding distrust of the government.

Mr. Wampler, of Los Osos, Calif., described himself as a 68-year-old hippie, and Kenneth Mendehbach, of Crescent, Ore., a woodworker by profession, boasted of spending at least two decades protesting federal power. Jeff Banta of Yerington, Nev., was one of the last holdouts at the refuge. At 27, David Lee Fry left a job at his parents’ dental practice in Blanchester, Ohio, to join the protest. Ms. Cox has a history of protesting federal involvement on Western lands and is a friend of the Bundys.

In closing arguments last week, the defense lawyers in the case and Ryan Bundy, who represented himself, passionately argued that the government had not made its case. They argued that the presence of paid government informants at the refuge during the occupation muddied the waters and created reasonable doubt about how the decisions of the defendants were made.

“The government was not here to find the truth,” Robert L. Salisbury, Mr. Banta’s lawyer, told the jury before deliberations began. “This case is about people wanting to be heard, and they’re just frustrated with our government.”


Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge – The New York Times.

Source: Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge – The New York Times

Jury acquits Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of Oregon standoff, of federal charges – Chicago Tribune

Jury acquits Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of Oregon standoff, of federal charges

The leaders of an armed group who seized a national wildlife refuge in rural Oregon were acquitted Thursday in the 41-day standoff that brought new attention to a long-running dispute over control of federal lands in the U.S. West.

Tumult erupted in the courtroom after the verdicts were read when an attorney for group leader Ammon Bundy demanded his client be immediately released, repeatedly yelling at the judge. U.S. marshals tackled attorney Marcus Mumford to the ground, used a stun gun on him several times and arrested him.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said she could not release Bundy because he still faces charges in Nevada stemming from an armed standoff at his father Cliven Bundy‘s ranch two years ago.

The jury found Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and several others not guilty of possessing a firearm in a federal facility and conspiring to impede federal workers from their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 300 miles southeast of Portland where the trial took place.

The Bundys were expected to stand trial in Nevada early next year. Authorities rounded up cattle at their father’s ranch in 2014 because of unpaid grazing fees but released the animals as they faced armed protesters.

The brothers are part of a ranching family embroiled in a lengthy fight over the use of public range, and their occupation in Oregon drew an international spotlight to a uniquely American West dispute: federal restrictions on ranching, mining and logging to protect the environment. The government, which controls much of the land in the U.S. West, says it tries to balance industry, recreation and wildlife concerns to benefit all.

The armed occupiers were allowed to come and go for several weeks as authorities tried to avoid bloodshed seen in past standoffs.

The confrontations reignited clashes dating to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s, when Western states such as Nevada tried to win more control of vast federal land holdings.

The group took over the bird sanctuary in remote southeastern Oregon on Jan. 2. They objected to prison sentences handed down to Dwight and Steven Hammond, two local ranchers convicted of setting fires. They demanded the government free the father and son and relinquish control of public lands to local officials.

Ammon Bundy gave frequent news conferences and the group used social media in a mostly unsuccessful effort to get others to join them.

The Bundys and other key figures were arrested in a Jan. 26 traffic stop outside the refuge that ended with police fatally shooting Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an occupation spokesman. Most occupiers left after his death, but four holdouts remained until Feb. 11, when they surrendered after a lengthy negotiation.

At trial, the case was seemingly open-and-shut. There was no dispute the group seized the refuge, established armed patrols and vetted those who visited.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this case is not a whodunit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said in his closing argument, arguing that the group decided to take over a federal workplace that didn’t belong to them.

On technical grounds, the defendants said they never discussed stopping individual workers from accessing their offices but merely wanted the land and the buildings. On emotional grounds, Ammon Bundy and other defendants argued that the takeover was an act of civil disobedience against an out-of-control federal government that has crippled the rural West.

Federal prosecutors took two weeks to present their case, finishing with a display of more than 30 guns seized after the standoff. An FBI agent testified that 16,636 live rounds and nearly 1,700 spent casings were found.

Bundy testified in his defense, spending three days amplifying his belief that government overreach is destroying Western communities that rely on the land.

He said the plan was to take ownership of the refuge by occupying it for a period of time and then turn it over to local officials to use as they saw fit.

Bundy also testified that the occupiers carried guns because they would have been arrested immediately otherwise and to protect themselves against possible government attack.

Ryan Bundy, who acted his own attorney, did not testify.

Authorities had charged 26 occupiers with conspiracy. Eleven pleaded guilty, and another had the charge dropped. Seven defendants chose not to be tried at this time. Their trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 14.

Associated Press

Jury acquits Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of Oregon standoff, of federal charges – Chicago Tribune.

Source: Jury acquits Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of Oregon standoff, of federal charges – Chicago Tribune

Video shows group topple iconic Ore. sandstone pedestal | abc7chicago.com

PACIFIC CITY, Ore. —

In a matter of seconds, Pedestal Rock at Cape Kiwanda on Oregon’s coast was no more.

Erosion didn’t claim the famous formation. Video appears to show vandals doing it, and David Kalas said he caught them in the act.

“It’s just like such a slap in the face, you know what I mean,” Kalas said.

Kalas and his friend Michael Kel went to Pacific City, Ore. Aug. 29 to fly a recently-purchased drone.

“You can see it in the drone and then we heard a bunch of loud noises coming from around eight people that are sitting next to rock,” Kalas said.

Those eight people, Kalas said, were yelling that they were going to topple the rock.

“All eight of them got it to, you know, wobble, then five of them backed off and the other three kept going, kept going, kept pushing. That’s when I decided to record it and I saw them actually topple the rock,” Kalas said.

The apparent vandals said, “Got him,” referring to the rock.

“They were just standing on top of the rubble of the rock, just like laughing, smiling, giggling,” Kalas said.

Infuriated, Kalas and Kel confronted them.

“I asked them, you know, why they knocked the rock down and the reply I got was: their buddy broke their leg earlier because of that rock and that’s why they toppled it down,” Kalas said. “They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard and that they did the world or Oregon a favor that they knocked it down.”

Salt in the wound for Kalas- and for many Oregonians.

“It’s just gone,” Kel said. “That view that you had, is not going to be there for people to enjoy.”

Kalas and Kel thought about calling police, but by the time they turned around, all eight people were gone.

“They just knocked it over, took a couple of pictures on top of it, laughed it off and left,” Kalas said.

Kalas and Kel said they do not know the people in the video and knew nothing about their intentions.

They said they would like them to be identified so they can learn a lesson.

Video shows group topple iconic Ore. sandstone pedestal | abc7chicago.com.

Source: Video shows group topple iconic Ore. sandstone pedestal | abc7chicago.com

Dramatic New Cell Phone Video Shows Final Moments of Oregon Militiaman’s Life

Earlier this month, the Oregon police produced a video recorded inside the truck of LaVoy Finicum, the radical gunman who helped occupy a federal bird refuge before he was ultimately shot to death in a highway confrontation. Now, you can watch the militiaman practically beg to be killed in the final moments of his life.

http://gawker.com/police-say-arm…

The video itself isn’t graphic, though it does depict a fatal shootout: After being pulled over for his role in the criminal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Finicum refuses to leave his vehicle as instructed. Instead, he shouts, over and over, that he would rather die: “You can go ahead and shoot me! Put the laser right there, put the bullet through the head!”

He then shouts that the situation is “gonna get real” and that the cops will “have my blood on your hands.” After a lot more yelling to this effect, Finicum guns the car in an attempt to flee the police—only to be stopped at a roadblock, which forces him to veer into the snow and, finally, leave the car. As he steps out of the vehicle, he clearly yells, “Go ahead and shoot me!”

The police did shoot fatally him, but not, they say, because he explicitly requested it: An aerial FBI recording appears to show that Finicum reached across his body multiple times, possibly in an attempt to grab the semi-automatic handgun he was carrying (the militia continues to dispute this account).

After Finicum is killed, fellow militia member Shawna Cox yells, “You assholes,” at which point the car’s windows are shot out and peppered with gas rounds. The other passengers, including an 18-year-old girl, eventually surrendered.

Dramatic New Cell Phone Video Shows Final Moments of Oregon Militiaman’s Life.

Source: Dramatic New Cell Phone Video Shows Final Moments of Oregon Militiaman’s Life

3 Arrests In Oregon As More Militants Leave Wildlife Refuge : The Two-Way : NPR

Ammon Bundy speaks to the media in front of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Jan. 6 near Burns, Ore. Bundy was arrested on Tuesday.

 

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Ammon Bundy speaks to the media in front of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Jan. 6 near Burns, Ore. Bundy was arrested on Tuesday.

Ammon Bundy speaks to the media in front of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Jan. 6 near Burns, Ore. Bundy was arrested on Tuesday.

 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

In a sign the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge may be winding down, the FBI announced late Wednesday that eight people had left the compound. Five were released and three arrested.

The FBI said in a statement:

“All [three] were in contact with the FBI, and each chose to turn himself into [sic] agents at a checkpoint outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The arrests were without incident.

“Each man faces one federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats…

“The FBI and our partners continue to work around the clock to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible.”

The three men arrested Wednesday were identified by the FBI as Duane Leo Ehmer, age 45, of Irrigon, Ore.; Dylan Wade Anderson, age 34, of Provo, Utah; and Jason S. Patrick, age 43, of Bonaire, Ga.

Earlier Wednesday, rancher Ammon Bundy, who had led the weeks-long armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge near Burns, Ore., released a statement calling for the remaining militants to “stand down.” Bundy was arrested Tuesday.

In his statement, Bundy praised LaVoy Finicum, an occupier who was shot and killed during a confrontation with police on Tuesday. He called Finicum “one of the greatest men and greatest patriots I have ever seen.”

The rest of the statement, issued through Bundy’s lawyer, read:

“We will have more to say later but right now I am asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward called for an end to the occupation, saying there “doesn’t have to be bloodshed” in the community.

 

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Harney County Sheriff David Ward called for an end to the occupation, saying there

Harney County Sheriff David Ward called for an end to the occupation, saying there “doesn’t have to be bloodshed” in the community.

 

Rick Bowmer/AP

 

“To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.

“Being in the system, we are going to take this opportunity to answer the questions on Art. 1, Section 8, Cause [sic] 17 of the United States Constitution regarding rights of statehood and the limits on federal property ownership. Thank you and god [sic] bless America.”

Bundy and seven other militants were arrested Tuesday. They also face felony charges of interfering with federal employees’ official duties.

Late Wednesday the FBI told Oregon Public Broadcasting that it was actively negotiating with the remaining militants at the refuge, but one of the militants still there was defiant.

“David Fry said five people remained in the occupied refuge. He said that he personally had no plans to leave at this time.

“When asked about Bundy’s call to leave the refuge, Fry simply said, ‘We have new leaders now and new plans.’ ”

As we reported, five of the seven militants arrested in Oregon were apprehended at a traffic stop while en route to a community meeting. One member of the group was shot and killed during that operation. Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said he was “disappointed” that the carefully-planned traffic stop that was meant to bring a peaceful resolution to the weeks-long occupation “ended badly.”

Ward was emotional when he called for an end to the occupation, saying the stress from the situation hasn’t been confined to the refuge.

“This has been tearing our community apart,” Ward said. “It’s time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on. It doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community. If we have issues with the way things are going in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to act on them in an appropriate manner. We don’t arm up and rebel. We work through the appropriate channels.”

Ward paused and shook his head before continuing:

“This can’t happen anymore. This can’t happen in America, and it can’t happen in Harney County.”

3 Arrests In Oregon As More Militants Leave Wildlife Refuge : The Two-Way : NPR.

Source: 3 Arrests In Oregon As More Militants Leave Wildlife Refuge : The Two-Way : NPR