Trial Begins for 7 Oregon Wildlife Refuge Occupiers

Citizens for Constitutional Freedom occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge starting Jan. 2

Ranching Standoff
AP, File

A federal trial pitting seven protesters against the government is set to begin Tuesday, months after brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy and their fellow activists occupied a desolate Oregon bird sanctuary, NBC News reported.

The Bundys, part of a Nevada ranching family, and the five other defendants are charged with "conspiring to impede Interior Department employees from doing their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge through intimidation or threats."

The occupation began Jan. 2 to protest the jailing of two Oregon ranchers who were convicted of setting fires. The group, which called itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, then pivoted to demanding the government hand public lands over to locals.

Ammon Bundy gave daily press conferences with reporters and said the group was fighting unconstitutional federal land management policies. The defendants say they exercised their First Amendment rights by engaging in peaceful protests.

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