Emmett, Ida. On December 15, 2020, Ammon Bundy told his “People’s Rights” members to escalate conflict “before the world comes to an end,” according to reporters for the Idaho Press. [i] Bundy, a former resident of Mesquite-Bunkerville Nevada, now lives in Emmett.
As Bundy incites, his followers to insurrection, an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News warns of armed protests at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol scheduled to begin late this week and run through Inauguration Day.
“As of January 10, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from January 16 through at least January 20, and at the U.S. Capitol from January 17 through January 20,” the bulletin said.
Media reports indicate far-right online forums are planning for marches in all state capitals and specifically mention Columbus. According to The Columbus Dispatch, state officials there are declining to discuss preparations for any potential protests.
This warning is not the first time the FBI warned about an armed insurrection by unhinged individuals.
On May 30, 2019, the Bureau’s Phoenix field office, for the first time, identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat. Agents from that office describe “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” as a growing threat and notes that it is the first such report to do so. It lists several arrests, including some that haven’t been publicized, related to violent incidents motivated by fringe beliefs.
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories as very likely to emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also says the FBI warned that conspiracy theory-driven extremists as likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
Yet like his father before him, Ammon Bundy lectures in religious parables while imploring his People’s Rights movement members to use violence in righteous defense of the Bundy family view of the world. His claims that “It is never righteous to use it [violence] in the offense” is a distinction without a difference.
Indeed, the December meeting followed the arrest of People’s Rights member 51-year-old Susan Lang of Boise, charged with disturbing the peace while protesting at the home of Diana Lachiondo, a member of Central District Health’s board of health.
Bundy’s “People Right’s” movement is a paramilitary organization like The Three Percenters, based in Idaho and Oath Keepers based in Nevada that formed following the Presidential election of Barack Obama in 2008.
The Three Percenters and Oath Keepers came to the aid of Bundy’s father notorious anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy in 2014 in a standoff with federal officers at the family ranch in Bunkerville, NV.
Bundy called on the Oath Keepers, The Three Percenters, and other militia units for support. They arrived from across the nation with assault rifles. And they flew Gadsden flags – the ones with the coiled snake that says: “Don’t Tread on Me,” like those flow in the January 6th insurrection against our government.
The 2014 standoff came 16 years after a November 3, 1998 ruling by United States District Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson permanently enjoining him from grazing his livestock within the Bunkerville Allotment and ordering him to remove his livestock from this allotment on or before November 30, 1998.[ii]
Following the Judge’s ruling, Bundy reached into Mormon scripture to develop a religious defense for his illegal grazing practices. In 1999, he was joined by his Bunkervile, NV neighbor Keith Nay in asserting that their Mormon faith and Latter-day Saint scripture views the U.S. Constitution as eroding their rights.
Oath of Office taken by U.S. Senators
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
They compiled their works into a 200-page anthology called “The Nay Book.” Bundy began the document with the central question: “What is the constitutional duty of a member of the Lord’s church?” Bundy found answers in the scripture that he believed directed and justified him in “defending my rights and my ranch against the federal government’s tyrannical” usurpation of his land.
After April 2014 in November of that year, Shawna Cox Bundy’s secretary stood on the Clark County District Courthouse and read aloud from “The Nay Book.”
“The book is phenomenal,” she said. It gives the Bundy family strength. “Cliven has been pushing, pushing, pushing to get everybody to understand this book. They know why they’re here. They know that they have to stand,” she said.
The book covers the Nay and Bundy family beliefs [iii] that the Mormon prophets viewed the Constitution as an eroded sacred document bringing American society to the “brink of ruin.”
In January 2017, Ammon and his brother Ryan took their Mormon faith to Oregon to challenge what they consider federal overreach and a collapse of the U.S. Constitution.[iv]
There they occupied the Malheur national wildlife refuge, holding it at gunpoint for 40 days, again in protest of federal environmental regulations and the alleged oppression of local ranchers.
Ammon Bundy, backed up by armed members of the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers, promised a violent response if authorities attempted to remove his followers.
In a nearby Oregon town, Ammon’s militiamen went door to door issuing threats to the Refuge employees, telling them not to return to the refuge. The refuge’s 17 employees, traumatized, fled the area, living at government expense in hotels across the state for weeks, a relocation effort that cost taxpayers 2 million dollars.
The siege ended in the death of occupier Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and a dozen perpetrators’ arrests.
While Bundy continues to preach religious subversion in Idaho, The Atlantic’s religion reporter, Emma Green, compiled considerable evidence of the Christian presence in the January 6 rebellion in Washington, DC.
The Bundy clan’s shouting out their view of Mormon philosophy to defend their anti-government activities contributes to the rising and violent polarization in the United States. It is dangerous and limits our ability to function as a democracy and hinders our ability to address critical problems.
Today, Cliven Bundy, 22-years after the initial federal ruling, continues to graze his cattle on public land illegally. And Federal prosecutors failed miserably to present persuasive evidence to a judge or jury to put the Bundy’s behind bars for their 2014 and 2017 anti-government activities.
To no small degree, the Federal Government’s failure to remove Bundy’s cattle and collect grazing fees and the government’s inability to present concrete cases to judges and jury for the 2014 and 2017 events enables Ammon Bundy and his followers to continue attacking the U.S. Constitution as an erosion to their beliefs to justify armed rebellion.
[i] Suppe, Ryan, Simmons, Tommy, “Bundy group, People’s Rights, training to defend from government ‘force’. https://www.idahopress.com/news/local/bundy-group-peoples-rights-training-to-defend-from-government-force/article_fdf76b0a-2e2a-53f0-89e9-8c877c647bab.html
[iii] Carol Bundy, Cliven’s wife, confirmed that the Nay book affirms what her family believes about the Constitution.
[iv] Pogue, James, ‘The Religious Ideology Driving the Bundy Brothers, May 17, 2018, at https://www.outsideonline.com/2308761/religious-ideology-driving-bundy-brothers#close