Ammon Bundy and six of his followers have been acquitted of conspiracy charges by a federal court jury. Reuters reports that Bundy and the others, who are all members of a group that seized federal property in a 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, successfully argued that theirs was an act of civil disobedience. Bundy's brother, Ryan Bundy, was also a co-defendant in the trial. Prosecutors, meanwhile, maintained that it was a lawless seizure and an anti-government attack.
The group was charged with conspiring to impede federal employees through intimidation, threat, or force. Per the Oregonian, the jury, whose members had deliberated anew today after one juror was replaced, told the judge that they had "exhausted all discussion" and that although they could not reach a consensus on one charge, "further deliberation would not help." Eventually the jurors found the defendants not guilty on all charges.
"We are just so excited,” Angie Bundy, Ryan Bundy's wife, told the Guardian following the verdict. “We’ve been praying hard, and we knew they hadn’t done anything wrong.”
Although the lack of consequences for the armed militiamen will come as a surprise and even an affront to many, it should be recalled that the standoff was not without casualties. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a rancher who acted as the spokesperson for the militia, was killed during a confrontation with government officials in late January. As Vice News and Reuters wrote at the time, the FBI released unedited footage of Finicum's fatal shooting.