TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A Tohono O’odham woman was found not guilty Wednesday on federal misdemeanor charges stemming from her protest of border wall construction on her tribe’s ancestral land.
The acquittal of Amber Ortega came after a magistrate judge reversed her previous ruling that Ortega couldn’t use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as her defense. After Ortega’s lawyer asked the court to reconsider the ruling, the judge ultimately decided the prosecution imposed a substantial burden on her exercise of religion.
Ortega was charged with interfering with an agency function and violating a closure order after she refused to leave a construction site in September 2020 in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 150 miles southwest of Tucson.
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