Cliven Bundy Charged; Oregon Refuge Reclaimed

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – With the Oregon occupation over, Cliven Bundy made his first appearance in court Thursday on charges stemming from his 2014 standoff with the federal government, in a courtroom two floors below the room where his sons were denied bail last week.
     Bundy shuffled into court in leg shackles and donned black-framed glasses to read the charging documents. He conferred with his attorney for 20 minutes before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart entered.
     Bundy was arrested late Wednesday night at the Portland International Airport. He had announced plans this week to travel to Portland and to Burns, Ore., near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy occupied at gunpoint for most of January. The elder Bundy told reporters his visit was intended to pressure the government to release his sons.
     But a SWAT team met Bundy’s plane on the tarmac, scuttling his plans for a rally in support of his sons and the other militants.
     Bundy owes the government more than $1 million for grazing his cattle on public land. He has called for ranchers across the country to refuse to pay their grazing fees.
     At the hearing Thursday, Bundy requested a court-appointed lawyer.
     “We will need a financial affidavit showing that Mr. Bundy needs court-appointed representation,” Stewart said. “If he can show that he needs it, one will be appointed for him.”
     The elder Bundy is charged with five federal crimes: conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal officer, use of a gun in order to carry out a violent crime, obstruction of justice and extortion.
     His sons and the other occupiers have been charged only with conspiracy to prevent federal employees from doing their job.
     The 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday morning with the arrest of the last four people still holed up in government buildings there.
     Three of the last four holdouts – husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nev. – walked out of the refuge Thursday morning and surrendered to the FBI after lengthy negotiations that included Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas.
     The last remaining militant, David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, stayed on for another hour and a half and threatened to kill or be killed before surrendering at 11 a.m.
     Nine more militants were arrested across six states Thursday. A criminal indictment charges Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Ariz.; Wesley Kjar, 32, of Utah; Corey Lequieu, 44, of Fallon, Nev.; Neil Wampler, 68, of Los Osos, Calif.; Jason Charles Blomgren, 41, of Murphy, N.C.; Darryl William Thorn, 31, of Marysville, Wash.; and Eric Lee Flores, 22, of Tulalip, Wash. with the same crime with which the rest of the occupiers were charged.
     The FBI held a news conference in Bruns detailing the end of the occupation.
     “There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing. “There will be a significant amount of clean up after we process the crime scene.”
     Bretzing said team was already there, combing the refuge for hidden militants. Then a tactical squad will spend several days performing a bomb sweep.
     After that, it will take forensic examiners about three weeks to collect data from the government computers on site, and months for them to analyze it to determine whether any other crimes were committed.
     During the occupation, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that militants were using refuge computers to get access to personal data of employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge.
     Finally, archeologists with the FBI’s Art Crime Team will work with the Burns Paiute tribe to examine cultural artifacts and burial sites at the refuge for damage.
     Bretzing said the 41-day occupation had pushed the 7,146 citizens of Harney County to the limit.
     “Over the course of the last month, the people of Harney County have lived through an experience that is both highly emotional and physically exhausting,” Bretzing said. “We have seen the occupiers and their outside supporters try to drive deep divisions between those who live and work here. We have seen some residents leave their homes, fearing violence against their families. We have seen the confusion, concern and trouble that the occupiers’ actions have caused for this community.”
     Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, a fixture of calm resolve who pushed to end the standoff peacefully throughout the occupation, spoke after Bretzing. He said the county had a lot of healing to do.
     Ward said he, like much of Harney County, listened to the live stream broadcast recorded by the final occupier David Fry. During the last minutes of the occupation, Fry said he would surrender if everyone outside the cabin where he was barricaded would shout “hallelujah.”
     Ward said you could hear the word ringing through the county.

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