The trial against the Bundy militiamen who engaged in a hostile takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon began this morning as both sides presented their opening arguments to a jury.
While federal prosecutors argued that what the Bundy militiamen did went far beyond simple protest, the Bundy defense had a slightly different take.
Ammon Bundy's lawyer Marcus Mumford doesn't deny that his client led the occupation, but he argued that Ammon Bundy's intent wasn't to "interfere with some kind of nature study,'' but to return the land to the people -- "all because the federal government refuses to respect the limits of its powers.''
"He demands the federal government obey the law. The nerve!'' Mumford told jurors in his opening statements.
Bundy counsel Marcus Mumford went on to say that his clients were acting on behalf of the local people, but the local people and local authorities actually pleaded with them to leave. No one wanted them there.
The Bundy militiamen launched their initial assault on the Malheur refuge in protest of the imprisonment of a local father and son who were convicted for setting federal land on fire, but even those convicted men did not want the Bundys to act in their name.
The occupation cost the state and local community millions of dollars in lost wages, productivity, emergency response, and damage.