Why People Are Furious Over the Bundy Brothers Ruling

October 28th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

In January, a group of armed anti-government protesters occupied a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon and commenced a six week stand off with law enforcement. One protester was even killed by authorities in an exchange of gunfire when some members of the group were arrested during a traffic stop, according to The New York Times.

On Thursday, a jury decided not to convict seven members of the group on any of the charges related to the armed standoff, and some are concerned the decision could have troubling implications for future political protests.

What was the Bundy case about?

A group of peaceful protesters gathered in the parking lot of a Safeway in Burns, Oregon on January 2 to protest the incarceration of father and son for the burning of federal lands, according to The Washington Post. On the same day as the peaceful protests, the Bundy brothers and their armed supporters took over a building on a federal wildlife refuge in Malheur, Oregon. Like the peaceful demonstrators, the Bundy group was attempting to protest the federal government's holding of grazing lands, and demanding they be handed over to state governments.

The jury acquitted the Bundy brothers group on all federal conspiracy and weapons charges, and reached no verdict on one theft of government property charge against Ryan Bundy, according to The New York Times. Ammon and Ryan Bundy are still in law enforcement custody and will be transferred to Nevada to face charges for a 2014 standoff over grazing lands, according to the Post.

The verdict prompted accusations of a double standard.

By being heavily armed, the Bundy militia was able to keep law enforcement officials, who feared a bloody confrontation, at bay for several weeks.

Meme about the Bundy's and Dakota Pipeline protesters.

The Bundy acquittal came at the same time law enforcement in North Dakota were using dogs, pepper spray, and military grade riot gear to arrest unarmed Native American protesters, who say plans to build the North Dakota Access Pipeline could poison the water in their communities.

A viral meme accuses the criminal justice system of treating an armed white militia group more delicately than unarmed Native Americans protesting land rights.

The acquittal also drew concern because it could encourage future armed protests rather than peaceful ones, at a time when such conduct has been bubbling to the surface on social media.

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have threatened violent protests and "revolution" if their candidate loses the presidential election in less than two weeks.

Twitter users speculated that the verdict could empower violent protesters because there were seemingly no consequences for the Bundy group.

RELATED: Why Native Americans Are Protesting the North Dakota Pipeline