Seven people were acquitted on Thursday of charges stemming from the standoff that took place in Oregon last winter. A group of protestors occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon for 41 days. The occupation started on January 2 and ended February 11 with the surrender of the remaining protesters.
Reasons for protest
The occupation began in support of father and son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond. Supporters showed up to protest their conviction for arson, as well as to voice their opposition to federal land policies. Dozens showed up to the protests, and many brought their guns along with them creating a heightened tension between them and the government.
During the course of the standoff one protester was killed by law enforcement on January 26, 2016. LaVoy Finicum, who was the spokesman for the movement, was killed when he and others were on a remote highway away from the wildlife refuge. Police were attempting an arrest on them and when Finicum left the vehicle and reached for his pocket he was shot. It was later determined that he was armed, having a handgun in his pocket.
Jury acquits all seven
The seven members of the movement on trial, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were cleared of their charges, including firearms charges and conspiracy to impede federal workers. The only remaining charge that did not see a verdict reached was a theft charge against Ryan Bundy.
Although they have been acquitted on these charges, the Bundy brothers and their father Cliven Bundy remain in custody for previous charges against them in regards to a standoff at their ranch back in Nevada from 2014.
Reactions to the verdict
There were around 100 supporters outside who celebrated upon hearing of the acquittal of the defendants. Inside there was a bit more drama though. Marcus R. Mumford is the lawyer for the Bundy brothers and after the not-guilty verdict was read out he requested that they be released. Due to other charges pending in Nevada, the judge did not grant this request causing him to become agitated and start yelling at the judge. He then had to be subdued by four United States marshals in the courtroom who used a stun gun on him.