In a stunning victory for liberty the seven people who were charged with conspiracy to impede federal workers from doing their jobs, having weapons on federal property and several other crimes were found not guilty on all counts leveled against them. To review for those who do not remember, the Bundy family along with several other patriots occupied an empty building in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in solidarity with a family (the Hammonds) who were facing prison time over their failure to control a fire that ended up on federal lands (minimal damage was done). The occupiers were persistent in their calls that they had no intentions of inflicting violence towards anybody, and would only defend themselves if the government acted violently towards them. The occupation lasted several weeks, until members of the FBI ambushed the occupiers as several were leaving the ranch to attend a public meeting in another town.
During this ambush they shot and killed LaVoy Finicum as his hands were up. Since then it has been revealed that there was misconduct surrounding the killing and the FBI’s handling of the aftermath. Ultimately, tape from inside the vehicle proved that the FBI fired on the car before anybody even got out, fired at the car as it was stopped, and never stopped firing into it even after LaVoy was murdered. After this point the FBI moved in on the ranch and were able to get the remaining occupiers to peacefully surrender. Unfortunately the aftermath resulted in one peaceful protestor being killed with seven others being wrongfully arrested. Despite the widespread outcry over the FBI’s handling of the case, most had expected a poor outcome in the trial, making today’s ruling a shocking success.
For those of you who are not aware, we have a long history of allowing these sorts of occupations in this country as a form of legitimate protest. In my own hometown an armed takeover of Willard Straight Hall by black political activists acted as a symbol for social change in an era where there were still many genuine questions surrounding racial issues. Similar occupations have happened at Columbia University, Alcatraz Island (which was occupied for a year and a half by Native American activists) and even in the infamous “Occupy Wallstreet” rallies in Zucotti Park. These all came and went without anyone being killed, and there have been examples of armed individuals in most of those instances. The notion that what happened to LaVoy Finicum and what the FBI did in reaction to this occupation was appropriate is totally contrary to our national history when it comes to dealing with protestors. It is completely contrary to basic common sense. Today’s ruling represents a huge victory for people who care about limiting out of control government and will hopefully set a precedent for these cases going forward.