The 41 day standoff has come to a close. Armed gunmen that have occupied Federal land and property were taken to trial over a long-running dispute concerning control of Federal lands. Reignited flames over the situation have brought back widespread media coverage over the problem. As the curtains fall and the Court’s decision was to acquit, the ones leading the standoff (brothers by the name of Ammon and Ryan Bundy) were found not guilty of having a firearm in a federal facility and conspiring to impede federal workers from their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is 300 miles southeast of Portland, where five co-defendants were also tried one or both of the charges.
Despite acquittal, the Brothers were expected to stand trial early next year, stemming from another high-profile standoff with federal agents. The Authorities had rounded up cattle at their father Cliven Bundy’s ranch in 2014 because of unpaid “grazing fees.” The U.S. government, which controls much of the land in the West, says it tries to balance industry, recreation and wildlife concerns to benefit all. 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, who was an occupation spokesman.
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 spent 3 days in an attempt to persuade authorities that what they were doing was seriously destroying Western cultures and communities that rely on the land for survival. 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.