PORTLAND, Ore. -- Seven leaders of the occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty Thursday of conspiracy and gun possession charges for their roles in the 40-day standoff.
While some celebrated the decision, several Oregon officials all used the same word to describe the verdict: disappointment.
Gov. Kate Brown tweeted a statement shortly after the not guilty verdict.
"While I respect the jury's decision, I am disappointed," Brown said. "The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences. I appreciate the due diligence of our federal partners and stand with the communities of Harney County and residents of Burns."
The FBI had said they would respect the decision.
"For many weeks, hundreds of law enforcement officers -- federal, state, and local -- worked around-the-clock to resolve the armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge peacefully. We believe now -- as we did then -- that protecting and defending this nation through rigorous obedience to the U.S. Constitution is our most important responsibility," said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. "Although we are extremely disappointed in the verdict, we respect the court and the role of the jury in the American judicial system."
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, who often communicated with the occupiers during the standoff, said he stands by the process that led to the not guilty decision.
"While I am disappointed in the outcome, I believe our form of government and justice system to be the best in the world. These folks were tried in a court of law and found not guilty by a jury of their peers. This is our system and I stand by it."