An Oregon jury recently acquitted seven anti-government activists of the heavily armed seizure of public lands and destruction of public property at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This so-called sagebrush rebellion was led by two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who has overgrazed public land and not paid his grazing fees for years.
The jury determined that these activists were performing “the exercise of First and Second Amendment rights under the Constitution” and were not guilty of civil disobedience or armed insurrection. Apparently if you wear a cowboy hat, wave the flag, call yourself a patriot, and invoke the Constitution, you can get away with anything short of murder. It also sets a dangerous precedent for future upheavals.
The good news is that both they and the father are still in custody and face more federal charges in Nevada.
Contrast this scenario, which involves coveting the ownership of public land, with another situation — the treatment of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal members protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they believe threatens their water supply and infringes on their treaty rights. Over a hundred protesters have been pepper sprayed, harassed, and arrested by federal authorities.
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Bill Petrie, Richland