Burns residents split over Malheur verdict

All 7 Malheur refuge takeover defendants were found not guilty

These Burns residents have differing opinions on the verdict in the Malheur Refuge trial, October 28, 2016 (KOIN)
These Burns residents have differing opinions on the verdict in the Malheur Refuge trial, October 28, 2016 (KOIN)

BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — The citizens of Burns remain as divided about the verdict as they were during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge months ago.

Some people in Harney County are celebrating while others feel that justice was not served.

Initial reactions to the
not-guilty verdict 

Judge Steve Grasty told KOIN 6 News he doesn’t feel like the town is divided and that there isn’t any fighting going on between residents, but some citizens did show opposing feelings.

John McLean said he felt it sent a message to the federal government that they are over-reaching.

“I think it’s great,” McLean said.

Others feel differently.

“I believe what they did was morally and legally wrong,” Ray Thomas said.

Liz Appelman, who spoke to KOIN during the occupation as well, is disappointed with the verdict.

“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach,” Appelman said. “I think them having spent 9 months in jail is a bit of a comfort. But the citizens of Harney County don’t get any justice of what was done to them.”

The incident has inspired her to run for city council as a write-in candidate.

What’s next in the Malheur case?

“It bothers me that they have been given free reign to do what every they want,” she said. “They can go into any office, armed, and take it over under this verdict.”

There are questions about whether or not occupiers could return to the refuge in large numbers.

“We have to continue to fight the good fight,” defendant David Fry said Thursday after his release. “Maybe we can occupy the warehouse. We’ll figure something out.”