A Tale of Two Protests

In late October, a jury in Oregon acquitted Ammon Bundy and six codefendants for illegally occupying a building in the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a remote eastern part of the state. The protest, the subject of national news coverage in January, was in support of local ranchers given egregious five-year mandatory federal sentences for setting a controlled burn on federal land to protect their own property from wildfires. As soon as the acquittal was announced, there were howls of protest. The Bundy verdict was said to be a case of jury nullification. CNN, Vox, and other publications suggested in commentaries that the verdict was an instance of white privilege.

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