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Law & Justice

Idaho Militia Files Brief For Malheur Occupiers

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Members of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters stand guard near Burns, Oregon in January 2016.

Four participants in an armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge are appealing their convictions and an Idaho militia is trying to help.

Jake Ryan, Jason Patrick, Duane Ehmer and Daryl William Thorn were convicted of a series of felonies and misdemeanors for their roles in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur Naitonal Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon.

The Real Three Percenters of Idaho have filed brief on their behalf in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief argues, in part, that they were unfairly denied a jury trial for their misdemeanor charges.

“We believe that they were doing nothing more than protesting and that it was the equivalent to, let’s say, Occupy Wall Street,” Eric Parker, president of The Real Three Percenters of Idaho, said in an interview.

The Malheur occupation lasted several weeks and was in protest both of the treatment of a local ranching family and federal control of certain lands. One occupier was killed by police in the aftermath.

Sympathetic lawmakers from the region, including Idaho, visited the occupiers to show support during the standoff.

Parker’s group also filed a brief in the case of Todd Engel, who is appealing a 14-year prison sentence for his role in a separate armed standoff in Nevada

That standoff was sparked by federal agents trying to confiscate rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle for years of failing to pay grazing fees. Bundy and his sons became symbols for anti-government movements, especially in the Western U.S.

Parker himself pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his role in that Nevada standoff, after prosecutors failed to convict him of mulltiple felonies. He and his group have received support from high-profile Idaho politicians, such as Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin.

McGeachin caused a controversy earlier this year when she posted a photo of herself with members of the Three Percenters and her making a sign of support to Engel.

Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter @HDruzin

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