PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The stunning acquittal of seven people who occupied a federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon during an armed standoff raised fears Friday that the verdict could embolden other militant groups in a long-running dispute over government-owned Western lands.
Meanwhile, a juror said the decision was a rejection of the prosecution’s conspiracy case, not an endorsement of the defendants’ actions.
Supporters of Ammon Bundy celebrated the verdict and said it could invite more confrontations. The government’s top federal land official, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, issued a statement urging all employees to “remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.”
An activist from Boise, Idaho, who once camped by a memorial to occupier LaVoy Finicum at the site where he was shot dead by police, predicted that the verdict would encourage others to act.