One long, cold January occurred in Oregon this year when the so-called Bundy Militia occupied a wildlife refuge by force. The group was protesting property rights and professed to be the ultimate defenders of a twisted pocket constitution. They merrily destroyed property until things went very bad when one member, LaVoy “Tarpman” Finicum, charged at agents while apparently reaching for his gun. Finicum lost his life, and the rest of the leaders, including two sons of Cliven Bundy, soon surrendered.
Ammon Bundy and his six co-defendants were brought up on charges ranging from conspiring to impede federal employees (from doing their jobs) to possessing guns in a federal facility. A few of them were also charged with theft of government property. The wheels of justice and the trial itself dragged forth. But after the jury deliberated anew on Thursday (after being told to disregard all previous discussions), Ammon Bundy and his six co-defendants were all found not guilty:
Ammon and Ryan Bundy have been found not guilty of conspiracy. Their five co-defendants Jeff Banta, Shawna Cox, David Fry, Kenneth Medenbach and Neil Wampler have all been found not guilty as well.
Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on Ryan Bundy’s theft of government property charge.
The jury returned its verdict after some six weeks of testimony followed by less than six hours deliberations, and the last minute replacement of a juror after an allegation surfaced that he was biased.
Oregon Live reports that the jury largely gave up on reaching a consensus. They told the judge they had “exhausted all discussion,” and “further deliberation would not help.” Meanwhile, Ryan Bundy’s wife, Angie, spoke with The Guardian to express her happiness: “We are just so excited. We’ve been praying hard, and we knew they hadn’t done anything wrong.”
Another weird twist to this case — Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus Mumford, got himself tasered and arrested after shouting that his client should immediately be let out of custody.
The Oregon standoff was a protracted yet direct extension to the 2013-2014 Nevada foot-stomping tantrum of Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay $1 million in grazing taxes for letting his cattle do their thing on federal land. Cliven was also arrested in February while trying to join the Oregon debacle’s last gasp.