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Oregon occupiers acquitted on conspiracy, weapons charges

Friday, October 28, 2016 5:36
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Oregon standoff

Top: Brian Cavalier, Ammon Edward Bundy, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli. Bottom: Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox, and Jon Ritzheimer.

Seven of the Oregon wildlife refuge occupiers who were on trial for federal conspiracy and weapons charges were all acquitted of the charges by a jury of their peers Thursday. But while five of the defendants were set free, Ammon and Ryan Bundy were kept in custody, a decision which caused a scene in the courtroom.

The jury, made up of nine women and three men, spent about five hours deliberating on the charges related to the 41-day occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, according to reports from The Oregonian.

Ammon and Ryan, as well as Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O’Shaughnessy were all accused of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force, and were also facing various weapons charges.

Ammon and Ryan, along with occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry were found not guilty of possessing guns in a federal facility. Acting on a lack of evidence presented by the prosecution, Cox’s gun charges were dropped earlier this month. Kenneth Medenbach, who was accused of stealing government property, was also found not guilty, while the jury was hung on charges against Ryan Bundy for allegedly stealing FBI surveillance cameras.

While the defendants and their legal teams were no less than ecstatic over the acquittals, the mood quickly shifted once U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown announced that Ammon and Ryan Bundy were not free to go.

Marcus Mumford, Ryan Bundy’s lawyer, stood up and argued against Brown’s decision before half a dozen U.S. Marshals surrounded him and everyone was ordered out of the courtroom by Brown.

A member of Mumford’s legal team later confirmed that Mumford had been arrested. J. Morgan Philpot, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, said a taser was used on Mumford as he was being detained.

Brown pointed to a hold by the U.S. Marshals for a pending federal indictment stemming from the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, Nevada, as a means to detain the Bundy brothers.

In the Nevada standoff, federal officials and Cliven Bundy – father of Ryan and Ammon – were at odds over grazing rights on BLM land. Individuals from all across the country – many of whom were armed – came to Bunkerville to show their support for the Bundy family and stand up against what many believed to be government overreach. Eventually, federal officials backed down and walked away, but charges came to the Bundy family and their supporters some time later.

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