US

Helpers or law breakers? Oregon standoff trial begins

  • Protestors gather outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. The trial of The Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five others are on trial nine months after the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon as government prosecutors begin opening statements today in Portland.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

    Protestors gather outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. The trial of The Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five others are on trial nine months after the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon as government prosecutors begin opening statements today in Portland.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protestors march outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. The trial of The Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five others are on trial 9 months after the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon as government prosecutors begin opening statements today in Portland.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

    Protestors march outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. The trial of The Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five others are on trial 9 months after the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon as government prosecutors begin opening statements today in Portland.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protester carries an upside down American flag as he looks up at the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.  Opening statements are set to begin Tuesday in the trial of the Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five others who occupied a remote bird sanctuary in Oregon's high desert early this year. The standoff drew national attention to the decades-old fight between the federal government and Western states over land policy.  (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

    A protester carries an upside down American flag as he looks up at the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Opening statements are set to begin Tuesday in the trial of the Bundy brothers, Ammon and Ryan, and five others who occupied a remote bird sanctuary in Oregon's high desert early this year. The standoff drew national attention to the decades-old fight between the federal government and Western states over land policy. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)  (The Associated Press)

The leaders of an armed standoff at a rural wildlife refuge say they came to Oregon's high desert country to help locals deal with an overreaching federal government that has abused people's land rights for decades.

Occupier Ryan Bundy said as a federal trial began Tuesday that the protesters came to enforce the law, and that he wasn't anti-government. But in opening statements prosecutors said Bundy and the other protesters broke the law when they threatened and intimidated federal employees during the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year.

The seven on trial are charged with conspiring to impede Interior Department employees from doing their jobs through intimidation or threats.

The trial in Portland, Oregon, is expected to last until November.