Briana Bundy, the daughter-in-law of jailed Nevada cattleman and rancher Cliven Bundy, sat down recently to give AFP a revealing interview about the actions of federal law enforcement as well as the upcoming trial of her family members. The interview was recorded for an AMERICAN FREE PRESS podcast. Click the link below to hear that interview.
By Mark Anderson
The daughter-in-law of famed rancher and activist Cliven Bundy recently talked to American Free Press about the upcoming trial of her family members, who were arrested for standing up for their fellow farmers in the western U.S.
Briana Bundy told AFP about what the Bundy family and affected area residents see as an especially shocking episode on the part of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the lead-up to what’s become an almost legendary standoff at the Bundy family’s Bunkerville-area ranch.
That April 2014 standoff made major headlines as the Bundy family became emblematic with the plight of Western ranchers and the decline of their livelihoods and storied lifestyle, in the face of massive federal control of land in the U.S., particularly in the Western states. In Nevada, for example, the federal government makes a claim to at least 83% of land there.
Briana is married to Mel Bundy, Cliven’s second son. Following Mel’s arrest, she has been left caring for the couple’s five daughters while Mel has been, and remains, in jail for several months. He is among 17 defendants awaiting federal trial in the Nevada federal court in Las Vegas on conspiracy and weapons-related charges, according to federal prosecutors, stemming from the standoff.
When Mel was arrested, Briana said, he and some associates were stormed by 30 federal agents. She added that Mel had calmly identified himself to federal agents and indicated with his hands in the air that he harbored no aggression, but he was still hit with the butt of a gun. The feds clearly were looking for a fight, based on what Briana believes was nasty propaganda fed to the agents beforehand, in order to demonize area Nevadans.
Around mid-March 2014, witnesses say BLM riflemen, who had set up positions in surrounding hills and other areas, fixed the laser-finders from their firearms on adults and even children. Although the federal officers didn’t open fire—reportedly no shots were fired by either side during the entire Nevada affair before the BLM backed down—the apparent pointing of laser-finders at passersby who had nothing to do with the standoff, as well as the targeting of those the BLM saw as being connected to it, has left a lasting scar on those who would’ve had trouble believing the federal government would sink so incalculably low.
Brianna added that BLM agents, who would stop by a local eatery, also threatened the restaurant’s patrons, acting as if local residents minding their own business somehow constituted a mortal threat.
The Clark County area in Nevada’s southern tip has a complex history. It used to be part of the Arizona territory, but, in May 1866, it became part of Nevada—with apparent sovereign status in its own right under a different legal context, entering Nevada well after it was proclaimed to be a state on Oct. 31, 1864. The Bundy family feels the BLM never had jurisdiction to enter Clark County in the first place when it attempted to seize Cliven’s cattle and engaged in the standoff with the elder Bundy, his sons, and several supporters over Cliven’s alleged “unpaid grazing fees.”
Consequently, Cliven has refused to answer federal court orders because he contends that they don’t apply to him.
“Basically he’s in his own little country out here and he understands the Constitution well enough to realize the federal government has no control within a sovereign state,” Briana said.
AFP confirmed that the Nevada trial has been divided into three tiers and will take place as follows: Starting Feb. 6, the first tier will consist of defendants Richard Lovelien, Todd Engel, Gregory Burleson, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler, and Steven Stewart. The trial of these men (thought to be the least involved in the Bunkerville events, therefore Cliven Bundy successfully insisted that they be tried first) is expected to last most of February.
Then, according to the court’s schedule, there will be a 30-day break after the end of the first phase before starting the second tier consisting of key defendants Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, and Internet-radio journalist Pete Santilli. These men were acquitted in the Oregon trial regarding their participation in civil disobedience to protest federal land policies and other matters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that ended in early 2015, only to be kept in custody and transferred to Nevada for another trial. This phase is expected to start in early April.
After another 30-day break at the end of the second phase, tier three will commence, involving Cliven’s sons Mel and Dave Bundy, along with Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier, Jason Woods, and Micah McGuire. At this point, it appears that this final phase will begin in June.
Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the roving editor for AFP. He is also the chairman of the America First Action Committee, a group dedicated to mobilizing grassroots Americans to pressure Congress on bad legislation and support Congress on good legislation. Email him at [email protected].