Oregon armed occupation | KUOW News and Information

Oregon armed occupation

Federal prosecutors are close to resting their case-in-chief in the second trial of defendants linked to last year’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

On Monday, the government will call a handful of FBI agents to talk about evidence, a federal employee who worked at the refuge in January 2016, and occupier Blaine Cooper, who pleaded guilty in the case last year.

The federal conspiracy trials against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his followers is beginning on Monday, with jury selection for the trial of six of Bundy's supporters.

The cases, stemming from a 2014 armed standoff against federal agents in Nevada, are unfolding in several stages. Bundy and his four sons are among the 17 total defendants but won't be immediately entering the courtroom.

Ammon Bundy, center, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, walks off after speaking with reporters during a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, near Burns, Ore.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Conrad Wilson about the upcoming federal trial of a second group of defendants charged in the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. In October, a group of seven defendants, including occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were acquitted of conspiracy.

In the shadow of trees covering Chapman Square park in downtown Portland, four of seven defendants acquitted of conspiracy in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge posed for pictures.

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 end of the six-week trial for seven people who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon can be summed up in two words: not guilty.

A 12-person jury found occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy not guilty Thursday of the government's primary charge: conspiracy to impede federal officers by force, threat or intimidation. Their five co-defendants — Jeff Banta, Shawna Cox, David Fry, Kenneth Medenbach and Neil Wampler — have all been found not guilty as well.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The jury hearing the federal trial of seven people who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon entered a fourth day of deliberations Wednesday — a day after jurors' ability to reach a verdict came into question.

Closing arguments are underway in the trial of seven people accused of illegally occupying Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last year.

Courtesy of OPB/Amanda Peacher

Bill Radke speaks with Oregon Public Broadcasting's Ryan Haas about the trial over the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. 

Oregon lawmakers are considering a request to spend about $2.5 million to cover the costs of dealing with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A legislative budget panel will take up the proposal Monday.

Several new ethics complaints have been filed with the Oregon State Bar against the law firm representing Ammon Bundy, the leader of the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The complaints were filed by people in New York and North Carolina.

They allege Eugene-based attorney Mike Arnold has asked people on Facebook to file public records requests with the Oregon State Police, the Bureau of Land Management and the FBI to “frivolously burden our Government agencies.”

Gavin Seim, a prominent supporter of the group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is kicking off a nationwide speaking tour in Oregon. He's asking fellow activists to pressure the government to release the occupiers who are awaiting trial in Oregon and Nevada.

In January and February, armed anti-federalists took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon for 41 days.

On a cold January morning, a posse led by a former Army company commander named Matt Shea rolled into the Harney County Courthouse and wanted to speak to the sheriff.

But this wasn’t a group of militants, or outlaws. They were state lawmakers from four western states, including Oregon. Most of them were members of a group called the Coalition of Western States, or COWS.

Three anti-government protesters from Idaho will stay behind bars for the time being. A fourth will have his status reviewed Thursday in Coeur d’Alene. This all stems from the armed confrontation near the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in 2014.

The stretch of public land where Angie Ketscher grazes her cattle is so expansive she’s never seen the whole of it.

Neither has its owner, the Bureau of Land Management.

Ketscher’s ranch is one of four that turn their cattle out to feed on this nearly 300,000 acre parcel of the sagebrush sea.

Standing on a ridge above her ranch, Ketscher pointed across a narrow, treeless valley. Her permit begins on the other side and runs to three separate mountains in the far distance. By horseback, it would take three days to cover that distance.

The costs associated with the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are still being tallied up. They include police overtime, lodging, meals and fuel. Initial estimates show the total will easily top $1 million.

Duncan Evered points out a quick-flying bird of prey at the Malheur Field Station. He squeaks to attract the bird’s attention.

The sharp-shinned hawk doesn’t fall for it.

“I’ve squeaked to that bird before,” Evered said. “She probably knows me better than I know her.”

During the nearly five weeks of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, the FBI kept a low profile, and it attracted some criticism for being too easy on the militants. But the feds' low-key profile concealed a deliberate strategy, one that evolved during an earlier round of confrontations with anti-government protesters in the 1990s.

Two Democratic congressmen from Oregon said federal prosecutors should have acted much earlier to arrest Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Had authorities acted sooner, the lawmakers said it might have discouraged militants inspired by Bundy from occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Portland and Peter DeFazio of Springfield on Thursday called for tough federal prosecution against both Bundy and the militants who ended their nearly six-week long occupation the same day.

The 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is over. The final four remaining occupiers surrendered to the FBI Thursday morning without incident.

Surrounded by FBI agents in armored vehicles, the last four occupiers of a national wildlife refuge surrendered Thursday, and the leader of a 2014 standoff with federal authorities was criminally charged in federal court.

The holdouts were the last remnants of the group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 and demanded that the government turn over the land to locals and release two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires.

Bill Radke speaks with Anna Griffin, reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting, about the dramatic, peaceful end to a 41-day standoff at Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The surrender of the remaining four holdouts was broadcast live via cellphone to a "riveting and incredibly disturbing" audio feed on YouTube. "It's as if," Griffin said "you could be inside the white Bronco with O.J. Simpson as he livestreams himself."

After 41 days, the Oregon occupation is over: All four militants who remained at an occupied wildlife refuge have surrendered to the FBI.

The father of two men who were among the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and are now in jail, was himself arrested in Portland, Ore., Wednesday night.

Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher prominent in protests to end federal control of western lands, is being held in the Multnomah County Detention Center. His sons Ammon and Ryan were arrested Jan. 27 and are there as well.

Update at 1:50 p.m. ET: Bundy Is Charged With Conspiracy

It's been a month since armed militants took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and even though the leaders of that occupation have been arrested, the community of Harney County finds itself deeply divided.

That anger erupted on Monday in the form of a huge shouting match on the steps of the county courthouse in Burns, Ore. It's a small town of about 2,700 people, so it's not every day that you see 400 or 500 people out on the street, screaming at each other.

Following the militant occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Obama administration is weighing whether to move forward with a huge land conservation proposal in an Oregon county that has drawn strong local opposition.

A decision by President Barack Obama to protect up to 2.5 million acres surrounding the remote Owyhee Canyonlands could help cement his legacy for protecting the country’s wild lands.

The armed standoff between anti-government militants and law enforcement in Oregon has lasted more than four weeks.

A federal judge ordered the organizer of the Oregon wildlife refuge occupation, Ammon Bundy, and his brother, Ryan, held without bail.

FBI: Standoff Continues In Oregon, Video Of Rancher Death

Jan 29, 2016
LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona, was shot by police on Tuesday night. The FBI has released a silent video of what happened.
OPB/Amelia Templeton

Four people remain inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, Oregon, the FBI said during a press conference on Thursday evening.

“The negotiators continue to work around the clock to talk to those four people in an effort to get them to come out peacefully,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing.

The remaining militants inside are David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Janesville, Wisconsin, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada.

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