In a surprise verdict in Federal District Court, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who along with five of their followers were charged in the takeover of a federally owned Oregon wildlife sanctuary in January, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges, reported The New York Times.
None of the defendants denied taking part in the insurrection, but the Bundy’s rebellion struck a chord among ultraconservative activists and militia groups who were eager to rally around their fight against federal government control of local land. A juror was actually dismissed a day before the acquittal over concerns that he or she was unfairly biased.
The verdict was a blow to the government, which had argued that the group used force and threats of violence to occupy the reserve, impeding the federal workers there. But the jury appeared swayed by the occupiers’ contention that they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat.
Bundy’s armed rebellion led to a standoff and eventually violence with police. But the defendant’s lawyers argued that prosecutors did not prove that they had conspired to prevent federal employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service or the Bureau of Land Management from doing their jobs.
These acquittals of armed white ranchers come on the same day as dozens of unarmed Native American protesters were arrested by police in full riot gear while peacefully protesting the construction of the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota.
Both Bundy brothers, along with other militia members are also charged in a criminal case in Nevada over a standoff in 2014 at the Bundy ranch south of Las Vegas, according to the Times. A separate trial for that case is slated for next year, this time in Nevada.
Here’s the lesson: White supremacists can point guns at cops, ignore laws, LITERALLY shit on federal property, and do whatever they want while black and indigenous people get arrested for protesting on their own land. But racism is over, right?