At trial, Ne­vadan cast as law­breaker

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

LAS VE­GAS — Ne­vada rancher Cliven Bundy was cast Tues­day as the leader of a con­spir­acy to en­list armed mili­tia mem­bers to force fed­eral agents, “at the end of a gun,” to aban­don ef­forts to col­lect his cat­tle from pub­lic range­land.

As the long-awaited trial opened in Las Ve­gas, act­ing U.S. At­tor­ney Steven Myhre re­jected sup­port­ers’ char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of the 71-year-old Bundy, sons Ryan and Am­mon Bundy and co-de­fen­dant Ryan Payne as peace­ful pro­test­ers and states’ rights free­dom fighters.

“This case is not about protest­ing. This case is about break­ing the law,” Myhre told a jury that con­vened af­ter a one-week de­lay to hear a case that Chief U.S. District Judge Glo­ria Navarro has told them could take four months.

Each de­fen­dant faces 15 felony counts on nine charges in­clud­ing con­spir­acy, as­sault and threats against fed­eral of­fi­cers, firearms counts, ob­struc­tion and ex­tor­tion con­nected to the April 12, 2014, armed standoff that led the fed­eral Bureau of Land Man­age­ment to aban­don round­ing up Bundy cat­tle.

Bundy, his sons and Payne have been jailed since early 2016, and each re­fused to en­ter a plea, say­ing he didn’t rec­og­nize the au­thor­ity of the gov­ern­ment. A mag­is­trate judge en­tered in­no­cent pleas for them.

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