Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ammon Bundy testifies about what drove him to hijack federal land in Oregon

Ammon Bundy, who was recently acquitted in the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon, testified Tuesday that he felt "driven" to protest federal control of Western lands after learning that two Oregon ranchers were imprisoned for setting fires on public rangeland. Bundy was brought to the federal courtroom in Portland from Las Vegas, where he is in custody awaiting trial on charges he led armed gunmen to block a federal cattle roundup near his father's Nevada ranch in 2014. In response to questions from defense attorney Andrew Kohlmetz, Bundy said that the seeds for the refuge takeover were planted in October 2015, when he first heard about Dwight and Steven Hammond, two ranchers from rural Oregon who were about to report to prison for a five-year sentence after being convicted of setting fires on public rangeland. He was lying in bed when he read an article about their case and "when I read that article, it was like I was pushed out of that bed and I needed to learn more," he said. "I felt driven and I don't know how to quite explain it. ... I felt a drive, an urge, to find out all I can and to get myself familiar with what was going on." He spent all night reading about the case online, wrote a blog post and wrote a letter that was eventually sent to 28,000 people by e-mail, he testified. Shackled and wearing a blue prison outfit, Bundy testified that he identified with the Oregon ranchers because he felt his own family had been targeted in a similar fashion by federal Bureau of Land Management agents who were trying to seize his father's cattle in a decades-long dispute over grazing rules and unpaid fees...more

No comments: