By Mark Anderson
To hear the Mass Media Cartel report it—especially the reckless Washington Post—constitutional activist Ammon Bundy was the ringleader of a motley gang of “anti-government” riffraff who disrupted the Idaho legislature Aug. 24-26. But Ammon maintains that he was just one among equals in peacefully protesting for the people’s civil rights to be upheld, while also calling for the state constitution’s separation of powers to be applied amid Idaho’s reportedly ultra-strict coronavirus response. Many feel that this lockdown has throttled commerce and thwarted basic liberties.
According to Ammon’s parents, Cliven and Carol, with whom this AFP writer spoke the evening of Saturday, Aug. 29, Ammon by that time was free and at home with his wife Lisa and family in Emmet, Idaho. However, the parents explained that Ammon—who is understandably fed up with Idaho’s coronavirus lockdown and joined with like-minded citizens to press for a legislative measure to end Gov. Brad Little’s over-extended state of emergency—was arrested twice.
Ammon’s first arrest was on Tuesday, Aug. 25 (charged with “trespassing,” “resisting arrest,” and “obstruction of justice”), although he was soon bailed out by an anonymous benefactor. Ammon was arrested a second time a day later on similar charges. When Ammon was detained, he was reportedly treated with total disregard for his health, which is ironic given the claims by state officials that, in light of Covid-19, Idahoans’ safety and health is of supreme importance.
As Carol Bundy told AFP: “They kind of roughed him up—he refused a strip search, so they put him in a cold cell,” leading, as Ammon himself explained, to extended time sleeping on a cement floor without a blanket while using rolls of toilet paper as a pillow. This put him at risk for a potentially serious illness—a predicament that the police officers at the sheriff department’s jail told him could be ended, via a warm bed and a blanket in a nearby larger cell, if only he’d agree to a strip search.
Describing a rather complex chain of events, Ammon, in a video statement posted on the Bundy family’s Facebook page, used the word “tyrannical” to describe that attempt to make his health and well-being negotiable—predicated on his submission to a strip search. He also called it a form of torture, while Lisa Bundy pointed out that Ammon had not been convicted of anything and was simply awaiting arraignment.
This sorry chapter in Idaho state government began Aug. 24. Ammon and roughly 100 other citizens showed up, not wearing masks, at the capitol in Boise for an emergency House session called by Gov. Little. The legislature was expected to consider legislation that could absolve the state of liability from the effects of the shutdown. But, above all, Bundy and everyone else wanted lawmakers to end the governor’s emergency declaration that made the shutdown possible. The declaration could last a maximum of 60 days, but it had reached the 90-day mark.
As Ammon stated via Facebook: “We’re now under more force and under more threat than we were even a few months ago. So, we, as a people, felt it was important to show our presence at a legislative session. [But] then we were told that the House is closed, that the people cannot go into it [to the seating gallery above the House floor]. Well, we were pretty upset about this, and ultimately the people pushed their way in.”
That evidently resulted in one door being damaged, on which big media fixated while engaging in character assassination of Bundy and the others. To be fair, they should not have damaged property.
The House speaker, Ammon noted, got the riled-up Idaho State Police (ISP) to back off for a time, which enabled the citizens to be seated in the gallery. Everyone agreed to observe the ground rules, and the overflow attendees, including Ammon, watched the proceedings from an auxiliary room far removed from the main chambers. “It was not like we were some hierarchy and I’m at the top of it,” Ammon remarked, noting that each person was responsible for his or her own behavior, media reports to the contrary notwithstanding.
Later that Monday, Bundy and the others attended a House Judiciary and Rules Committee meeting on the above-noted liability bills. Although the legislators are not accustomed to having their meetings heavily attended, with frequent citizen comments, everything went off normally until the next day when Ammon and many of the same concerned citizens attended another meeting of that committee. Ammon sat in back, as he had already addressed the committee the day before. It was then that 15-20 ISP cops left the room, seemingly not concerned about the situation, yet when the sergeant-at-arms whispered something into the committee chairman’s ear, the ISP officers suddenly re-entered the room, surrounded the citizens and dragged off two citizen journalists.
“It was like they were trying to incite the people,” Ammon recalled. “They saw this issue as something that would allow them to re-assert their authority,” since, on the day before, the people had persisted in attending the House proceedings. Ammon said that on Monday, when he and the others insisted they should be allowed inside the House chambers, they told a police officer, “This is our House.” That officer replied, “ ‘No, this is our House,’ over and over again,” Ammon recollected. He then realized, as he stated, “The First Amendment does not apply to the people or citizen reporters; it only applies to state-approved [entities]. There were men, women, and children there—families—and the real ruckus came from the ISP.”
Once the two alternative journalists were detained [for sitting in the press box like other media] and everything settled down again on that Tuesday, Ammon moved and sat in the press box in the committee room, as a symbolic gesture. The committee had cowardly moved to another room behind closed doors. Ammon, who thought he might be arrested or at least asked to leave for “trespassing,” then discovered that the capitol building was surrounded by roughly 100 police cars. Several officers abruptly marched in and everyone was told to vacate the premises or be arrested for trespassing.
Ammon stayed put and was arrested by being put into a wheelchair (he said he neither resisted arrest, nor did he help them, so a wheelchair was deemed necessary).
He was taken to that cold holding cell for the first of two times and was bailed out by the unknown benefactor. He felt that the bailout was “well-intended,” but he had hoped to go before a judge and get the judicial branch to review the conduct of the legislative and executive branches. So, as a free man, he again attended the legislature, a Senate session, on Wednesday. Unbeknownst to Ammon, the governor had arbitrarily issued a decree to keep him out of the legislature for a full year. Ammon was still unaware of the decree when ISP officers again threatened the attending citizens with arrest while choosing to make an example of Ammon.
“They got very rough with me; they literally dragged me out,” Ammon said, noting that, unlike the previous arrest, the officers put the handcuffs on him ultra-tight, this time behind his back, cutting off his circulation.
However, another officer, apparently fearing the outcome from video footage of what had been done, did loosen the cuffs, but that was done while throwing Ammon to the floor. It was then that Ammon was taken to a squad car and put into the back seat on the passenger side, an action during which an officer allegedly dug his nails into Ammon’s neck, leaving scratches and bruising (for which a complaint was filed).
At that point, Ammon was returned to the cramped holding cell where, as he tried to sleep without a blanket, he could feel his body temperature dropping and his throat getting tender. “This was their ‘Covid’ unit,” Bundy said, citing the hypocrisy of the matter. “This is where the Covid people are put.”
And when he refused to be strip-searched and was denied even a virtual (video) arraignment, he paid his own relatively modest bail fees to avoid being left in the cell indefinitely when his wife and kids needed him at home. So, the “system,” after bilking over $800 in bail costs and fees from him, simply sent him home with none of his grievances redressed.
“I simply wanted to participate in the republic-form-of-government process,” he concluded, while speculating that if this is how government is going to act, then the people might have to assemble and form their own compacts. Yet, while he still has six outstanding charges (two each of trespassing, resisting arrest, and obstructing justice), he’s still hoping to get before a jury and present his case.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].
Bundy Family Speaks With AFP: Wins Major Victory in Nevada Case
By Mark Anderson
Well-known rancher and constitutionalist Cliven Bundy and his wife, Carol, were elated to learn on Aug. 28 that the Jan. 8, 2018 ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Gloria M. Navarro that freed Cliven, his two sons, and fellow defendant Ryan Payne from federal prison—stemming from their presence in the dramatic resistance in April 2014 to federal agencies near the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville, Nev.—was upheld by the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We got news that the judgment of the Ninth Circuit Court was entered into, back on Aug. 6, and it took effect, and they are not going to appeal,” Carol happily remarked to this writer, during an interview about a much more recent matter: Ammon having been arrested and bailed out, twice, for seeking to redress widespread concerns about legislative and executive abuses of power regarding Covid-19 in Idaho. [See related story on facing page.—Ed.]
Carol noted she was happy about the Navarro ruling but added, “You’ve got to know I still have . . . men in prison now, Todd Engel and Greg Burleson. And then we also have Jerry Delemus from New Hampshire . . . and he wasn’t even here.” Carol was referring to April 2014 when Cliven, his sons, and scores of supporters from across the country, including Engel and Burleson, resisted an attempt by federal agencies to seize Cliven’s cattle over non-payment of alleged grazing fees imposed on the Bundy family, which had used those lands for a century without federal interference.
Notably, in an appeal for Engel, the Ninth Circuit Court “vacated his sentence and remanded him back to the judge, and the judge could either arrange for a retrial or exonerate him,” Carol also announced. She stressed that Engel, who, like the others, has been in jail ever since the arrests pertaining to the events in 2014, is finally seeing a ray of light in his ordeal.
Speaking to AFP on Aug. 31 in the wake of the Ninth Circuit’s decision to uphold Navarro’s ruling, Ammon reflected on the persecution experienced by his family by a federal government that too often lurches into full-blown tyranny.
“They came down on my family and tried to destroy and take our ranch. We and the American people did not allow them to do that. They arrested us and held us for two years in federal detention centers. We went thru major trials—in every sense of the word—and the district judge [Navarro] ruled our case dismissed, with prejudice, based on government misconduct, including lying to the judge,” he said, adding that the federal prosecution withheld 3,800 documents from the defense.
Ammon, who recalled that he spent about half his prison time in solitary confinement, went on to say: “The three Ninth Circuit appellate judges ruled unanimously [that] our case [on the same charges] can never be brought up again,” the meaning of “with prejudice.” They spent approximately $100 million trying to prosecute us. It was a huge loss to the government. They did everything they could to try and destroy my family, but they just could not get it done. The courts were not our friend, but they had to decide whether they wanted to go down with the U.S. attorneys or not, so they came out against them.”
Referring to his recent experience of spending time in the Ada County, Idaho jail—having been arrested for trespassing and other flimsy charges over his attendance (and that of dozens of other citizens) at legislative meetings Aug. 24-26 to protest the state’s heavy-handed Covid-19 measures—he says the tyranny that manifested itself at the Bundy ranch in 2014 is the same fundamental force that is behind the Covid-19 crackdown that threatens the liberties of all Americans.
“It [didn’t] just happen to me in a county cell. It’s happening across the entire country,” he said, about the “plague” of unlawful government being spread by the mass media cartel, despotic governors and mayors, and others, whose newfound powers, under cover of Covid-19, will not be easily surrendered.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].