PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Trial is gearing up this week for armed ranchers who took over a national bird sanctuary in rural Oregon to oppose federal management of public lands.
Jury selection starts Wednesday in the case against Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and six others who helped seize Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2. They’re charged with conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs. Several others were indicted, and many have pleaded guilty.
Most key figures were arrested during a Jan. 26 traffic stop that ended with police fatally shooting Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an occupation spokesman. Others left after Finicum’s death, but four holdouts extended the standoff to 41 days.
The defendants claim they used their First Amendment rights to engage in a peaceful protest and that those with guns were exercising their Second Amendment rights.