Ammon Bundy and 6 followers found not guilty of conspiracy in Malheur Oregon Wildlife Refuge takeover

Clockwise from top left, Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O’Shaughnessy. Credit Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

Brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five followers charged over a 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon last January were today acquitted of federal conspiracy and weapons charges.

All seven are free to go at it all over again, should they choose to, and perhaps inspire other disgruntled white guys with guns to stage militant takeovers of other public property.

Aerial video released by the FBI January 28, 2016 shows a law enforcement officer (C) pointing a weapon at a man (L) who had just stepped out of the white pickup truck at a police roadblock January 26 near Burns, Oregon.  The FBI released video showing one of the men occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge reach for his jacket pocket before he was shot dead by law enforcement after speeding away from a traffic stop where the group's leader was arrested.  Authorities said 54-year-old Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was armed when he was stopped by police and killed on Tuesday afternoon.

Aerial video released by the FBI January 28, 2016 shows a law enforcement officer (C) pointing a weapon at a man (L) who had just stepped out of the white pickup truck at a police roadblock January 26 near Burns, Oregon. The FBI released video showing one of the men occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge reach for his jacket pocket before he was shot dead by law enforcement after speeding away from a traffic stop where the group's leader was arrested. Authorities said 54-year-old Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was armed when he was stopped by police and killed.

From the New York Times:

The verdict brings to a close a case that gripped the nation earlier this year with its public debate about government powers, public lands and constitutional rights.

There was a Wild West quality to the episode, 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.

Ammon Bundy talks to occupiers in an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Ammon Bundy talks to occupiers in an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

And from Reuters:

In an emotional climax to the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ammon Bundy's lawyer, Marcus Mumford, was tackled to the floor by U.S. marshals as he became involved in a heated verbal exchange with the judge over the terms of his client's release.

The verdict came hours after a newly reconstituted jury, with an alternate seated to replace one panelist dismissed over questions of bias on Wednesday, renewed deliberations in the case. Jurors previously had deliberated over three days.

White guys really can get away with just about anything they want to in America.

Ammon Bundy (L), and his brother Ryan Bundy are shown in an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, U.S. January 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Ammon Bundy (L), and his brother Ryan Bundy are shown in an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, U.S. January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Leader of a group of armed protesters Ammon Bundy talks to the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 8, 2016.  REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Leader of a group of armed protesters Ammon Bundy talks to the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart