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Week 1: 'Battle of Bunkerville' Trial of Bundys Begins in Las Vegas


More than three-and-a-half years since the so-called Battle of Bunkerville, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons, and a fourth defendant are facing a jury of their peers in a Las Vegas courtroom.

As opening statements kicked off this week, prosecutors said the Bundy camp defied the rule of law by threat of violence and intimidation, while defense attorneys called the nearly weeklong standoff in April 2014 a legal protest against federal government overreach.

"The only thing (Bundy) wanted to do was raise cattle, just like his grandfather did, and his dad did," defense attorney Bret Whipple said in his opening presentation, according to Reuters.

Cliven Bundy's cattle, and the lands they roamed, represent the root cause of the Bunkerville standoff, which was the culmination of a decades-long dispute between Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management. Before 1993, Bundy paid the federal government land grazing fees. But then Bundy took issue with the government's tightened ranch restrictions meant to protect the endangered desert tortoise.

In the end, BLM agents retreated, and no shots were fired. But 19 people have been arrested in connection with the standoff. Some have pleaded guilty, others have been found guilty in other trials, and others still have been exonerated or taken plea deals with what are expected to be light sentences.

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