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The Bundy Brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five of their co-defendants were acquitted of charges after they seized a federal building by force in a weeks-long showdown. According to reports, the group’s attorneys did not expect a victory and their right-wing supporters are using the moment to rally against the government.

The armed occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge, which took place this past January, was an attempt by the Bundys and other right-wing critics of the government to strike back. The support the group had spread nationwide, as evidenced by the number of people outside of a Portland federal court on Thursday awaiting to hear the group’s fate.

From The Guardian:

A jury has found that brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy were not guilty of conspiring against the government, a surprising end to the high-profile Oregon standoff trial that sparked national debates about public lands and the rights of ranchers in the American west.

The decision, unveiled in federal court in Portland on Thursday, is a blow to the US government, which had aggressively prosecuted the rightwing activists who led an armed takeover of public property to protest American land-use regulations.

The Bundy brothers, who orchestrated a 2 January takeover of the Malheur national wildlife refuge, were acquitted on a number of serious charges, along with five other defendants. Only a day earlier the court dismissed a juror over fears of bias, raising concerns that the trial would drag on for weeks.

“We are just so excited,” Angie Bundy, Ryan’s wife, told the Guardian after the verdict was announced. “We’ve been praying hard, and we knew they hadn’t done anything wrong.”

The fact that the Bundy Brothers were able to dodge serious charges, there has been chatter that this strengthens the right-wing’s anti-government message ahead of an explosive election year with plenty on the line.

However, group leader Ammon Bundy remained jailed as of Friday after the judge in the case reminded Bundy’s attorney that he is facing a similar charge in Nevada led by his father, Cliven Bundy. Bundy’s attorney had to be subdued in court after yelling at the judge to release his client.

Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff

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