A federal grand jury in Oregon has handed down indictments against 16 people involved in the January takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a protest against federal land management practices, more than a week after one of their comrades was fatally shot at a roadblock on a rural Oregon highway.
The question now appears to be whether these people are anti-government heroes or provocateurs who quickly wore out their welcome in the high desert country of southeast Oregon.
Facing conspiracy charges are Ammon Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho, his brother, Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada, Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana, Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada, Shawna Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Arizona, Pete Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati, Jason Patrick, 43, of Bonaire, Georgia, Duane Ehmer, 45, of Irrigon, Dylan Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah, and Jon Ritzheimer, 32, of Peoria, Arizona, according to the Portland Oregonian.
In addition, four protesters still at the refuge were also charged, the newspaper said. They were identified as Sean Anderson, Sandra Lynn Pfeiffer Anderson, Jeff Wayne Banta and David Lee Fry. The 16th person, Kenneth Medenbach, was arrested when he allegedly drove a government vehicle off of the refuge, according to the Oregonian.
The protesters have supporters and critics, and there does not seem to be much middle ground, especially after Robert LaVoy Finicum was killed Jan. 26 after crashing his truck into a snow bank. A video of that encounter was released by the FBI two days after the shooting, and since then, various people have taken sections of the video and “enhanced” it in order to press their allegations about what may have happened.
Several people have alleged that Finicum was murdered by law enforcement, while others argue that his own actions precipitated the shooting. The FBI said it recovered a 9mm pistol from an inside jacket pocket after Finicum was fatally shot after crashing into a snowbank as he swerved around the roadblock a few minutes after speeding away from a traffic stop.
While this drama has been unfolding in the Beaver State, many people are wondering if, and when, the federal shoe will drop on Hillary Rodham Clinton over her alleged misuse of private email that contained sensitive information. Newsmax on Thursday carried an opinion piece by Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano that ripped the Democrat front-runner and former Secretary of State over what he called the email “debacle.”
“Legally,” Judge Napolitano wrote, “the ground under Clinton continues to crumble. The more she denies, the more she admits. How can that be? That is so because her denials are essentially an admission of ignorance, forgetfulness or negligence, and, under the law, these are not defenses to the failure to safeguard state secrets entrusted to the secretary of state. They are, instead, recognition of that failure.”
This leaves some people wondering about the workings of justice. While the Bundy group took over an essentially vacant federal refuge, Clinton may have endangered national security. That remains for an investigation to determine, and it could ultimately undermine her candidacy.
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