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The Bundy Acquittal: Tazing of #oregonstandoff

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The verdict is in and all charged with impeding federal officials with force at the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were exonerated. The Prophet Ammon must feel vindicated that his prophecies are true, taking it as a sign as he, Ryan and others head to Nevada for their February pageant.

The feds have struggled with the fringe Mormons since Buchanan’s Blunder, the folly of their Short Creek ways culminating in Malheur through a lack of establishing a secure perimeter, allowing them free travel, of FBI HRT coverup, narrow charges, and finally in the surreal tazing of attorney Marcus Mumford. The verdict and their collective ineptitude should give them pause regarding as they proceed to the Bunkerville trail in February.

I’ve argued that those involved in the Malheur takeover were engaging in Seditious Conspiracy, a charge that is both broad and carries a sentence of 20 years, defined as:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, … or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Certainly, a larger net with many more conspirators with more plea deals to roll for information to convict the leadership. Anyone providing material, financial, recruiting, or other support would be captured by the dragnet.

I have evidence of material and other support that was given to the occupation leadership by the Utah contingent that met them the weekend of January 7-9, 2016. This group prepared press releases, brought supplies, discussed roles on how each could assist in cleaning up PR messaging after Tarpman and advising for legal issues like weapons. Many have not been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

What is also forgotten and confirmed by sources is the Church knew Ammon would leave if they asked him to do so, the reason for a midnight run meeting with them to Salt Lake City where Utah contingent members who lead the rancher permit renouncing Storm Over Rangelands during the occupation, Todd MacFarlane and Jon Pratt, appealed to them to ask Ammon to leave. The Church did not, an indictment of how a ‘God fearing benevolent religion’ did not accept the role of ending an armed standoff that had a high likelihood of ending in bloodshed – and did.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints must feel anxious regarding their inaction. No doubt the combined Bundy standoffs in Nevada and Bunkerville with radical prophets pontificating unofficial doctrine, discredited the Church and its agricultural business interests – the largest in the nation. Perhaps with the exoneration they can continue to put the LDS Malheur contingent’s excommunication on hold.

The Bundys must feel empowered but beyond seditious fundamentalist theo-constitutionalist sagebrush Mormons from Dixie and Deseret, so, too, must Constitutional Sheriffs, militias, white supremacists, grazing permit renouncing ranchers, and other Trump voters around the country.

In fact, activists of any stripe are now free to use guns to ensure “they are taken seriously”. Perhaps forest defenders, particularly the brave women, need protection. Maybe those people of color at Black Lives Matter protests need to ensure for their safety. Maybe the climate and water defenders involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline action need to get serious defending mother earth.

I fear for law enforcement and public lands officials who in the future will be constantly facing armed protesters, standoffs, and remain distrusted by all sides. The same for our legal system, as today, with the Malheur verdict, it certainly has not won the trust of any as, yet another of a thousand cuts to efficacy in the American system of civil government.

I can’t wait to get the Hillary Rodham Clinton administration underway.

To leave on a positive note, I believe the Malheur occupation has strengthened the resolve of public lands advocates and all citizens who cherish the freedom and biodiversity of our public lands. All of us have been largely complacent, unaware of the very real threats people like the Bundy theo-cons and their corporate extractive business interests are to the public interest. It appears we still have a lot of work to do.

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Chris Zinda is an activist and writer living in Oregon.

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