Whose rights are the protesters representing, exactly?
Over the weekend, the Bundy family and up to 100 supporters occupied the headquarters of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. This followed the resentencing of Steven and Dwight Hammond, who were found guilty of violating the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. How the resentencing happened and why, from a legal standpoint, is explained quite well in this Popehat Lawsplainer - long story short, they were convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 844(f)(1), which has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years:
Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or any institution or organization receiving Federal financial assistance, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.
Whether arson actually occurred, meanwhile, is also an open question. A rather detailed, if one-sided, description of the events sympathetic to the Hammonds from TheConservativeTreeHouse.com has been making the rounds and paints a picture of an oft-persecuted family performing a series of routine controlled burns that performed according to expectations but were used to manufacture insurmountable legal pressure on the Hammond family - pressure which the family ultimately succumbed to out of expediency in exchange for a plea bargain. The prosecution's side, meanwhile - as summed up by this Burns Times-Herald article - is that Steven and Dwight Hammond set a fire to cover up poaching activities and also started a controlled burn in violation of a BLM-issued Do Not Burn order that inadvertently burned public land, both of which were found by a jury to be acts of arson. A roundup of both accounts, along with a copy of the original sentencing court's opinions, can be found here.