Statement by U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams on Verdict Announcement in Oregon Standoff Trial
PORTLAND, Ore. – On Friday, March 10, 2017, Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, delivered the following statement on the verdict announcement in U.S. v. Bundy et al.
Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Good Afternoon. My name is Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.
After approximately 21 hours over 3 days, a federal jury here in Portland returned its verdicts against Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer, Darryl Thorn, and Jake Ryan all of whom were active participants in the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that took place near Burns, Oregon beginning in January of last year.
Jason Patrick was found guilty of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States.
Darryl Thorn was found guilty of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States and possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in federal facilities.
Duane Ehmer and Jake Ryan were both found guilty of depredation of government property.
Sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, 2017 here in Portland.
Freedom of speech and expression are core values and rights that I and others have sworn to protect and uphold. In this case, the defendants were not on trial for their beliefs, but rather for their conduct.
Taking up arms and occupying federal lands and property that interferes with federal employees discharging their duties is and will continue to be illegal. We cannot have people taking over government offices and facilities at the end of a gun and expect no consequences.
The jury has spoken. Their verdicts speak to their view of the evidence. I respect the American judicial process and remain convinced it is the best system in the world.
For forty-one days early last year, these individuals prevented U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management employees from doing their jobs as stewards of land belonging to all Americans.
They purposefully interfered with the daily lives of residents of Burns, Hines, Harney County, and members of the Burns Paiute Tribe. The negative impacts of their actions continue to this day.
Our communities and state are stronger because of our joint effort to bring these individuals to justice. The rule of law matters.
Taking up arms because you do not like how things are done can never be accepted as a lawful way to protest. The good people in rural Oregon who are ranchers, loggers, farmers, and small business owners understand the difference between disagreeing with land management policies and working together to bring about change versus outsiders with a political agenda taking over property with guns and claims of being patriotic. A voice for change and one’s vote are more effective than threats and an AR-15.
I would like to begin by thanking the residents of Burns, Hines, and Harney County, Oregon, members of the Burns Paiute Tribe, and others who were victimized by the actions of these individuals. Your patience with and commitment to both trials was a motivation to everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
I would like to thank Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, Oregon State Police, the Oregon Sheriff’s Association, and the countless local and tribal law enforcement personnel from around the State of Oregon that worked tirelessly to bring about a peaceful resolution to the standoff.
I would like to thank the employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management for their courage and determination to continue serving our country in various capacities despite having their workplaces temporarily taken from them and despite having to dedicate countless staff hours in support of these trials.
I would like to thank the FBI for their outstanding investigative support through every phase of this process. Their professionalism and commitment were essential in bringing about a successful resolution to the trial.
And finally, I would like to thank our trial attorneys and staff at the United States Attorney’s Office for their hard work and commitment to bringing these defendants to justice. The process of prosecuting these individuals required an extraordinary level of effort and unflappable commitment on behalf staff at all levels. I am very proud and thankful for their tremendous effort.