... as the saying goes. That should have happened, repeatedly, and from the beginning. We knew who they were, and what they represented. Federal law enforcement should have loudly explained the penalties they were risking. They should have also offered the carrot of being willing to use their discretion if the nonsense ended immediately. As things stand some are going to use the defense that they thought they had a tacit understanding that law enforcement saw them as peaceful protesters, and not actually committing the kinds of crimes that would have been spelled out to them. IANAL but listing the statutes being broken would have helped make the prosecutor's case easier for the more basic charges. And that would have smoothed the path for the more serious charges.
And now the bar is raised, and every bunch of wackos will want this level of deference, and "if they don't get it, it's discrimination, and because this time the government is really scared of their righteous cause, and they're martyrs" (as I imagine their claims going).
There's discretion, and then there's the rule of law. People don't want to see the rule of law go down the tubes just so those enforcing it get to look clever.
And somebody did get his wacko ass killed, so the "nip it in the bud" side has that going for it.
But I'll be impressed, and adjust my weighing of things, if the government goes after all the shitbirds on conspiracy and/or other charges. And with "all" I include the shitbirds from the standoff at the Bundy ranch. Because that helped enable what happened in this new instance of armed insurrection.
If all of this was just so the government could rack up a non-controversial win, one that doesn't upset the anti-government gun-humpers, I'll be very unimpressed.
P.S. There's something to be said for the government having an obligation to not give people too much rope to hang themselves with. Not that I think the government wasn't smart to listen in, and so on. But I think we'll be hearing more about that defense at the trials. And that goes back to why I said the riot act should have been read to them.
To this day many jurisdictions that have inherited the tradition of English common law and Scots law still employ statutes that require police or other executive agents to deliver an oral warning, much like the Riot Act, before an unlawful public assembly may be forcibly dispersed.
Because the authorities were required to read the proclamation that referred to the Riot Act before they could enforce it, the expression "to read the Riot Act" entered into common language as a phrase meaning "to reprimand severely." with the added sense of a stern warning. The phrase remains in common use in the English language.