Four anti-government activists still occupying a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon have been indicted, along with 12 others previously arrested on charges of impeding federal officers during a month-long armed standoff at the compound.
The indictment, filed in federal court in Oregon and unsealed on Thursday, supersedes an earlier criminal complaint that charged protest leader Ammon Bundy and others with impeding by “force, intimidation, and threats” officers and employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the performance of their duties.
Attorneys for the defendants were not immediately available for comment.
The occupation began on Jan. 2, when Bundy, his brother Ryan and other followers took over buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote eastern Oregon in the latest flare-up of a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.
The three-page indictment says the defendants brandished firearms and refused to leave the refuge, threatening violence against anybody who attempted to remove them.
It also says the protesters recruited others in person and over social media to join their ranks beginning in November, and, in October, warned the sheriff of Harney County in the nearby town of Burns of “extreme civil unrest” if their demands were unmet, among other acts of intimidation.
The Bundy brothers and nine others were arrested last week in Oregon, most of them during a confrontation with FBI and state police on a snow-covered roadside where a spokesman for the group, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was shot to death. A 12th member of the group turned himself in to police in Arizona.
Two of those arrested have since been released on condition that they wear electronic tracking devices while awaiting trial, leaving 10 of the former protesters, including the Bundys, still in custody.
Their immediate fate has been clouded by the four holdouts among the group, who joined the protest after it started but have so far refused to leave the refuge.
A judge has cited the continuing standoff as a major obstacle to the release of at least some of those who remain in custody. An attorney for arrested protester Jason Patrick, named in the indictment, referred to the holdouts as “four idiots” at odds with his client’s aims.
The indictment contains the same charges as those in the criminal complaint filed last month but avoids the need for prosecutors to seek a judge’s determination that sufficient evidence exists to proceed to trial.
(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Writing and additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Steve Gorman, Dan Grebler and Frances Kerry)
Here are 3 winners and 4 losers from the CNN/NYT Democratic presidential primary debate
Twelve Democrats took to the stage Tuesday night for yet another debate in the party's 2020 president primary hosted by CNN and the New York Times.
After only ten candidates qualified for the previous debate, an additional two — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and wealthy donor and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer — made it to the stage this round for an even more crowded event.
The candidates discussed a range of important policy issues, but since the format was a debate, and they're all competing for the same nomination, it is ultimately most critical who won and who lost the night. Here are three winners and four losers — necessarily a subjective assessment, of course — from the debate:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Bernie Sanders at New York rally: report
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is going to receive a major boost of support, The Washington Post reported Friday.
"Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the most influential voices among young liberals and a rising Democratic star, plans to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president and appear with him at a rally on Saturday," the newspaper reported, citing "two people with knowledge of her plans."
Billionaire ex-New York mayor Bloomberg still dreams of becoming president and yearns to stop Warren — what could go wrong?
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering jumping into the presidential race as polls show Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pulling even with Vice President Joe Biden — or perhaps pulling ahead — in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Bloomberg, a billionaire who founded the media company Bloomberg L.P., has “indicated to associates” in recent weeks that Biden’s struggles against Warren are making him rethink his decision to stay out of the race, CNBC reports.