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Former Nevadan, Ammon Bundy, Uses Easter Sunday In Anti-Government Rally

Update: Unable to secure a Church, Ammon Bundy addressed about 60-people on Easter who turned out at a warehouse he owns in a dusty lot near the Emmett railroad tracks.

Ammon Bundy mug shot

Former Mesquite-Bunkerville, NV resident Ammon Bundy is using religion to push his latest anti-government ploy.

His is not the first time the Bundy clan used religion references to support their positions.

In 2014, the Bundy’s were resisting a court-ordered roundup of Patriarch Cliven Bundy’s cattle by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials and law enforcement rangers. The action came after Bundy failed to pay over $1 million (and counting) in debt incurred for years of failing to pay grazing fees for the use of federally owned land adjacent to his ranch near outside Bunkerville in Southeastern Nevada.

In August, of 2014 Cliven Bundy told a gathering in St. George, Utah, that God provided him personal inspiration in the showdown. “The Lord told me,” he said, “that if the local sheriff doesn’t take away these arms from federal agents, we the people will have to face these arms in a Civil War. [i]

Of course, Republican Clark County Nevada Sheriff Doug Gillespie (2007 – 2015) did not disarm federal law enforcement officials. So, Cliven,  his sons Ammon, Ryan, Dave, and Melvin called upon members of the sovereign citizen movement,[ii] the Oath Keepers, the White Mountain Militia, and the Praetorian Guard,[iii] to resist the court-ordered cattle roundup.

Cliven, his sons and their supporters have claimed that the Federal Government lacks the authority to manage public lands. Legal scholars and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, rejected such claims. Further, the property clause of the United States Constitution grants plenary authority to Congress to manage the federal property, including land.[iv],[v]

After a series of trials and mistrials, the Bundy’s walked. The Government appealed. And on March 9, 2020, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a one-page order vacating, without explanation, oral arguments in the Bundy case initially scheduled for March 23. They have not yet rescheduled the hearing. Most likely because of the COVID-19 crisis. [vi]

Following the Bundy’s has consequences. During the series of trials, several supporters in the cattle roundup dispute receive varying sentences for related offenses.[vii]

On January 2, 2016, and impatient to prove their point, Ammon joined by his brother Ryan acted. They led a group of far-right extremists to seize and occupied the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, [viii] The occupiers continued to hold it until law enforcement made a final arrest on February 11, 2016.[ix]

Again, Ammon and Ryan Bundy along went free along with Shawna Cox, David Fry, Jeff Banta, Neil Wampler, and Kenneth Medenbach. But, as in the Nevada standoff, some of their followers did not fare so well.

Occupier Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by Oregon State Police during a January 26, 2016 traffic stop that led to the arrest of occupation leaders, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy. Others received sentences from months in prison, followed by years of supervision and hefty fines.[x]

Once again, Ammon Bundy, now living in Emmett, Idaho, clearly feeling more and more comfortable in his anti-government position, is organizing. This time in protest of Idaho’s stay-home order, and again testing the criminal justice systems ability to reign him and his followers into compliance with the law.

Bundy, is gathering in the Boise area to celebrate Easter this Sunday and is looking for a venue that could host 500 to 1,000 people “So,” he said, those wanting to worship and honor God on this eventful day, can do so.”

In a nearly 50-minute Facebook video, an Bundy, said Christians are required to defend their liberties. The “quest” of Governments around the world is to “destroy the agency of man,” he claimed. He added, “that includes the right to worship’.

“The quest is to make us miserable, like them, and to give them the power to control … the people of this world,” Bundy said.

The lengthy video was in response to thousands of “hate messages and death wishes,” Bundy said he received in the days following his announcement that he planned to organize an Easter service.

The stay-home order, announced March 25 and in effect through at least April 15, requires all Idahoans to self-isolate at home whenever possible, unless they work at an essential business or need to buy necessities such as groceries. Outdoor activity is still allowed if people stay six feet apart. The order prohibits “all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals.”

“Boise, Idaho police have been focused on gaining voluntary compliance to the Governors stay-home order,” Boise Police Department spokeswoman Haley Williams wrote in an email to the Idaho Press. “As a last resort, if we are unable to do that, then we would refer the report to the prosecutor’s office for possible misdemeanor charges authorized by the Governors order.”

“I will predict with pretty good confidence that something is going to continue,” Idaho Governor Brad Little said Tuesday during a statewide Q&A call with AARP Idaho. With the good Lord’s help, I’m trying to make the best decision going forward. But we will not return to normal on April 16.”

Compliance with the order and slowing the spread of the virus is “the right thing to do for the prosperity of Idaho going forward,” Little, also from Emmett, said.

Two North Idaho public officials in Bonner County — state Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Sheriff Daryl Wheeler — have spoken out against the stay-home order and questioned Little’s authority to issue it.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, however, confirms the order is constitutional, the Idaho Statesman reports. “The law in this area is clearly defined,” Wasden told the Idaho Statesman. “I have no problems with providing legal defense of the governor’s order and stand ready to do so should the need arise.”

[i] Williams, John, “OMG, Bundy Hers from his God Again”! posted to Let’s Talk Nevada.com, August 6, 2014.

[ii] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies some sovereign citizens (“sovereign citizen extremists”) as domestic terrorists.

[iii] Daniel Hernandez, Joseph Langdon and (April 13, 2014). “Federal rangers face off against armed protesters in Nevada range war”. The Guardian. Retrieved April 14, 2014.

[iv] Federal land transfers are not in the Constitution. Gray, Bryce. High Country News, 4 February 2016. Although challenged periodically in court, federal application of the Property Clause has been consistently supported in a chain of legal precedent that extends back to 1840.

[v]Public Land Transfer Laws: Not Constitutional Then, Not Constitutional Now Archived October 8, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. Graybill, Ralph. American Constitution Society, 11 March 2015

[vi] The court did post an announcement on its website indicating it was canceling some hearings this week “in light of the concerns about community spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the circuit.”

[vii] The include:

  1. Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus of Rochester, New Hampshire received a little more than seven years for conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of extortion, with credit for the 16 months he has already served.
  2.  Gregory Burleson, of Arizona, a paid FBI informant, was convicted of assault upon and threatening of a federal officer, aiding extortion via both interstate commerce and travel, obstruction of justice, plus multiple gun counts. Burleson was given 68 years for recruiting others in Arizona to join the standoff and posting “alcohol fueled’ rants encouraging others to do the same.
  3. Todd Engel was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after being convicted on charges of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
  4. Scott Drexler was sentenced to time served while Eric Parker, president of the Real 3% of Idaho, part of the far-right Three Percenters militia organization. received one year of supervised release.
  5. Pete Santilli was sentenced to time served plus two years of supervised release.
  6. Blaine Cooper was sentenced to 20 months already spent in custody and faces a combined three years of supervised release.
  7. Brian Cavalier was sentenced to the 20 months he already served in custody.[197].
  8. Micah McGuire pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to impede federal officers

[viii] Berry, Harrison (January 3, 2016). “Militia Group Seizes Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters”Boise Weekly. Boise, Idaho. Retrieved September 2, 2016.

[ix] Wilson, Conrad; Rosman, John (February 11, 2016). “Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Occupation Ends”. Portland, Oregon: Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved September 2, 2016

[x] The include: 

  1. Jason Patrick: Convicted of conspiracy to impede, trespass, tampering with vehicles and equipment, and destruction and removal of property. Sentenced to 21 months in prison, three years supervision, and $10,000 in restitution to Friends of the Malheur Refuge.
  2. Duane Ehmer: Convicted of depredation of government property, trespass and tampering with vehicles and equipment. Sentenced to a year in prison, three years supervision, and $10,000 in restitution to the Burns Paiute Tribe.
  3. Jake Ryan: Convicted of depredation of government property, trespass and tampering with vehicles and equipment. Sentenced to one year in prison, three years supervision, and $10,000 in restitution to the Burns Paiute Tribe.
  4. Darryl Thorn: Convicted of conspiracy to impede, possession of firearms in a federal facility, trespass and tampering with vehicles and equipment. Sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, three years of supervision, and $5,000 in restitution to Friends of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
  5. Ryan Payne: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to 37 months in prison, three years supervision, and $10,000 in restitution to Friends of Malheur National Refuge. Shaughnessy participated and was charged in the Bundy ranch stand-off, but charges were dismissed.
  6. Jon Ritzheimer: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to a year in prison, three years of supervision, and $10,000 in restitution to Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  7. Joe O’Shaughnessy: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to time served, two years of supervision, and $7,000 in restitution to Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Shaughnessy participated and was charged in the Bundy ranch standoff, but charges were dismissed.
  8. Brian Cavalier: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to impede and possession of firearms in a federal facility. Sentenced to time served, three years of supervision and $7,000 in restitution to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Cavalier was sentenced to the 20 months he already served in custody for his actions in the Bundy Ranch standoff.
  9. Dylan Anderson: Pleaded guilty to trespass. Sentenced to a year of probation and $1,000 in restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  10. Sean Anderson: Pleaded guilty to trespass. Sentenced to a year of probation and $1,000 in restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  11. Sandra Anderson: Pleaded guilty to trespass. Sentenced to a year of probation and $1,000 in restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  12. Wesley Kjar: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to two years’ probation and $3,000 in restitution to Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  13. Corey Lequieu: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervision and $7,000 to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
  14. Jason Blomgren: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to two years’ probation and $3,000 in restitution to Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  15. Travis Cox: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to two years’ probation and $3,000 to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  16. Eric Lee Flores: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to two years’ probation and $3,000 to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  17. Geoffrey Stanek: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Sentenced to two years’ probation and $3,000 to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  18. Blaine Cooper: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Scheduled for sentencing in June and was already ordered to pay $7,000 to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Cooper had previously been sentenced to 20 months already served in the Bundy ranch standoff.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of Nevada-today.com and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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