Friday, February 10, 2017

A Las Vegas Jury Has Heard Openings in the Trial of the Bundy Ranch Six

A jury in Las Vegas heard competing narratives Thursday about six men accused of illegally wielding weapons to block a federal roundup of cattle near states' rights advocate Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch in April 2014. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre cast the defendants as insurrectionist lawbreakers—willing gunmen who answered Bundy's call to "do whatever it takes" to prevent federal Bureau of Land Management agents from seizing his cattle in a decades-long dispute over grazing rules and unpaid fees. Defense attorneys portrayed the men as patriotic citizens and peacemakers—spurred by internet videos of scuffles between federal agents and Bundy family members to travel to the Bundy ranch to protest government heavy-handedness. "He saw wrong being done to the Bundys," said Terrence Jackson, attorney for Phoenix resident Gregory Burleson. "He carried his weapon. (But) at no time did he point a weapon at anyone. At no time did he participate in any illegal activity." Myhre opened the trial in U.S. District Court showing photos of each defendant with a rifle in his hands. The prosecutor characterized them as "the end of a rifle barrel" in a tense standoff between Bundy and the BLM that could have turned tragically deadly with hundreds of unarmed protesters in potential crossfire in a dry river bed. "It is a crime to use a gun to threaten the life of a federal law enforcement officer," Myhre said. In the end, no shots were fired, no one was injured and the cows were set free. The prosecutor said the two dozen government agents at the scene identified more than 20 people with guns in what he called a protest "mob," and on high ground surrounding a corral containing almost 400 head of Bundy cattle near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Engel, who is serving as his own attorney, told jurors he was astonished to find armed, armored and helmeted federal agents with gunsights trained on men, women and children who had prayed and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before gathering amid fluttering flags and cowboys on horseback to free Bundy cattle...more

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