The jury reached a verdict in the case of the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve in Oregon yesterday, and the result was somewhat out of the ordinary.
A jury Thursday delivered a stunning across-the-board acquittal to the leaders and participants in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation and a remarkable blow to the federal government as it tries to tamp down a national movement led by a Nevada family to open public lands to ranchers, miners and loggers.
The verdicts finding Ammon Bundy, older brother Ryan Bundy and five others not guilty of a federal conspiracy drew elation from defense attorneys who spent five weeks arguing that the armed takeover amounted to a time-honored tradition of First Amendment protest and civil disobedience.
“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,” said Lisa Ludwig, standby counsel for Ryan Bundy.
The high-profile case riveted the state and drew national and international attention to the isolated bird sanctuary in rural eastern Oregon. The jury’s decision proved no less dramatic and sets up a showdown in the next stage of the land-rights movement.
I wrote at the American Spectator about the underlying cause of the standoff here – what the Bundys and the other five men involved in the standoff did wasn’t the most brilliant idea under the sun, but at the end of the day it was no more criminal than the takeover of university administrative offices by campus leftist moonbats in the 1960’s; rather than serve time in prison, those people generally were put in charge of the universities a few years later to the detriment of American education. And what they were protesting was governmental abuse so thorough and outrageous that far more stringent civil disobedience could have been warranted…