Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Day 1: Refuge occupiers argue their actions were a protest
The armed occupiers who seized a remote bird sanctuary in Oregon early this year are being tried because their actions intimidated and threatened federal employees, not because they challenged the government’s land policies, a prosecutor said Tuesday as a trial began for seven people accused in the standoff.
During his opening statement, Geoffrey Barrow dismissed claims by group leader Ammon Bundy and others that the takeover was a legitimate protest of federal land management. Bundy and his brother Ryan, who’s also on trial, are part of a Nevada ranching family embroiled in a long-running dispute over land use.
“Everyone in this great nation has a right to his or her beliefs. We are not prosecuting the defendants because we don’t like what they think or said,” Barrow told jurors. “We are prosecuting them because of what they did.” Barrow said he will detail how the occupiers were divided into squads and drilled in hand-to-hand combat. He also said one of the participants in the standoff will testify against his former allies.
Marcus Mumford, the defense attorney for Ammon Bundy, said in his opening statement that the occupation had nothing to do with impeding federal employees.
Ammon Bundy “did what he did to demand accountability from the federal government,” Mumford said. “He demanded the federal government obey the law — the nerve.”
Bundy grew up the son of a rancher, Mumford said, and became a “reluctant activist” on matters involving government overreach and Western lands.
Mumford repeatedly asserted that Bundy was trying to legally take the refuge land by a practice known as adverse possession, which is a way to gain title to land by occupying it for a period of time.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown stepped in to tell jurors that the concept of adverse possession is not being litigated.
Mumford ended his statement by noting that Bundy and his followers never aimed a gun at anyone.
Referencing the fatal shooting by police of occupation spokesman Robert “Lavoy” Finicum, he said only one side of the standoff shot someone. “And it wasn’t Mr. Bundy.”
Ryan Bundy, who is acting as his own attorney, told the court he came to help another ranching family he felt was being abused by the government.
“I felt we were not there to break the law but to enforce the law,” Ryan Bundy said, referring to the U.S. Constitution. “I am very in favor of government, as long as it’s done correctly.”
Before lunch, the judge rejected his request to hand each juror a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution...more