Reactions Flood In After Malheur Trial 'Not Guilty' Verdicts | KUOW News and Information

Reactions Flood In After Malheur Trial 'Not Guilty' Verdicts

Oct 28, 2016
Originally published on October 29, 2016 10:58 am

Reaction is coming in fast to the not guilty verdicts for the seven Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers.

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice released exactly the same press release saying while they had hoped for a different outcome, they respect the verdicts and thanked the jury.

But outdoor groups are angry.

Audubon Society President David Yarnold said he’s outraged and that wild lands belong to everyone, not the people who hold them at gunpoint. He said the verdicts undermines the rule of law.

The Outdoor Alliance said it’s disappointed by the prosecution's inability to secure a conviction for armed occupiers who quote “vandalize public land …and thwart the work of scientists.”

It’s worried the verdicts set a dangerous precedent and will embolden what it described as “extremists.” It wants lawmakers to take action.

Oregon’s republican congressman Greg Walden, said simply that the defendants were tried in federal court by a jury of their peers and found not guilty.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden says he respects the verdict and urges Oregonians to now do what he says they do best, “And that is come together and answer the question of how government can serve all the people when a small group of extremists can mount an armed take-over on a federal facility.”

Nevada republican assembly woman, Michele Fiore, expressed great relief at the verdict and says it gives her hope for the upcoming Bunkerville trial.

Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell tweeted that she respects the court, but is deeply disappointed.

Georgia Marshall, a rancher in Harney County, said it feels like a knife has been driven into the heart of the community, “We’ve had a scab that we’ve been trying to heal and the verdict yesterday just kinda peeled that off,” she said.

Speaking on OPB’s Think Out Loud, Peter Walters with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, drew a parallel between the recent arrests of North Dakota pipeline protesters and armed occupiers being found not-guilty.

“They are calling for private use the private profit of natural resources on public land, whereas at Standing Rock you have protests trying to prevent native land from being used for the same thing…to me it sets a double standard," he said. "It’s almost a perfect mirror of the two issues.”

Other people like Chris Briles, a member of the Harney County Committee of Safety that Ammon Bundy created, called the verdict “a huge relief.”

The attorney for one of the defendants, says the not-guilty verdict was unexpected and overwhelming.

Portland defense attorney Matt Schindler had told his client, Kenneth Medenbach, to expect a conviction, “Yeah, that’s what Id’ been telling him for months. I felt there was sufficient evidence in the case," he said.

"I mean the judge listened to us give arguments about the insufficiency of the evidence for about 90 seconds before she said: “Nah, I don’t really need to hear any more about this. There’s enough evidence for this to go to the jury.” It was extraordinary.”

Speaking on OPB’s Think Out Loud, Schindler said the case wasn’t about his client begin acquitted. It was about him getting a chance to be heard. His client, Ken Medenbach has been convicted twice before of unlawful occupancy of federal lands.

Georgia Marshall, a rancher in the area, said it feels like a knife has been driven into the heart of the community, “We’ve had a scab that we’ve been trying to heal and the verdict yesterday just kinda peeled that off.”

Peter Walters with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, drew a parallel between the recent arrests of North Dakota pipeline protesters and armed occupiers being found not-guilty.

“They are calling for private use the private profit of natural resources on public land, whereas at Standing Rock you have protests trying to prevent native land from being used for the same thing," He said.

"To me it sets a double standard. It’s almost a perfect mirror of the two issues.”

Other people like Chris Briles, a member of the Harney County Committee of Safety that Ammon Bundy created, called the verdict “a huge relief.”

OPB's Kate Davidson heard reactions from a wide range of people following Thursday's verdict. Listen to them in the audio player below.

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