In the shadow of trees covering Chapman Square park in downtown Portland, four of seven defendants acquitted of conspiracy in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge posed for pictures.
David Fry smiled as he flashed a peace sign. He slung his arms around co-defendants Neil Wampler — clutching a hotdog from the victory barbecue and a stack of newspapers with his face on them — and Shawna Cox. Jeff Banta stood to the far right. An alternate juror named Sarah Foultner stood between them while a supporter cycled through phones to capture the moment for everyone.
The prosecution didn’t picture the trial ending like this.
“Disappointing,” said U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams of the not guilty verdicts. “Bitterly so.”
Just as quickly as the defense proclaimed a victory for rural America, occupation opponents dubbed the result an embarrassing loss for the prosecution. And supporters of other movements — #BlackLivesMatter and #NoDAPL to name two — wondered aloud about the meaning of justice.
But 41 days and eight months later, the leaders of the armed occupation in eastern Oregon were found not guilty by a jury of peers.
Still, questions remain: How did it happen? And what happens next?
The article continues with sections titled The Charges, The Prosecution, The Defense, The Verdict, The Celebrations, The Implications.