Prosecutor: Occupiers being tried for actions, not beliefs
PORTLAND, Ore. — The armed occupiers who seized a remote bird sanctuary in Oregon early this year are being tried because their actions intimidated and threatened federal employees, not because they challenged the government’s land policies, a prosecutor said Tuesday as a trial began for seven people accused in the standoff.
During his opening statement, Geoffrey Barrow dismissed claims by group leader Ammon Bundy and others that the takeover was a legitimate protest of federal land management. Bundy and his brother Ryan, who’s also on trial, are part of a Nevada ranching family embroiled in a long-running dispute over land use.
“Everyone in this great nation has a right to his or her beliefs. We are not prosecuting the defendants because we don’t like what they think or said,” Barrow told jurors. “We are prosecuting them because of what they did.”