December 21, 2017
Generally, I find anything related to libertarianism that isn’t named “Christopher Cantwell” to be tedious and boring.
But it was cool when these guys took over a bunch of federal land with guns and then refused to surrender, even if their politics are garbled nonsense.
For those who don’t remember, in 2014 the Bundy family invaded public land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and held it hostage because… I think because they wanted to graze their cattle there or something.
So wait, I guess I don’t even remember it. I remember writing about it and thinking it was stupid. But I don’t remember the actual details.
The 2014 Bundy standoff was an armed confrontation between supporters of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and law enforcement following a 21-year legal dispute in which the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) obtained court orders directing Bundy to pay over $1 million in withheld grazing fees for Bundy’s use of federally-owned land adjacent to Bundy’s ranch in southeastern Nevada.
The ongoing dispute started in 1993, when, in protest against changes in grazing rules, Bundy declined to renew his permit for cattle grazing on BLM-administered public lands near Bunkerville, Nevada. According to Bundy, the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to own vast tracts of lands, an argument repeatedly rejected by federal courts. According to the BLM, Bundy continued to graze his cattle on public lands without a permit. In 1998, Bundy was prohibited by the United States District Court for the District of Nevada from grazing his cattle on an area of land later called the Bunkerville Allotment. In July 2013, federal judge Lloyd D. George ordered Bundy to refrain from trespassing on federally administered land in the Gold Butte area of Clark County.
On March 27, 2014, 145,604 acres of federal land in Clark County were temporarily closed for the “capture, impound, and removal of trespass cattle”. BLM officials and law enforcement rangers began a roundup of such livestock on April 5, and an arrest was made the next day. On April 12, 2014, a group of protesters, some of them armed, approached the BLM “cattle gather”. Sheriff Doug Gillespie negotiated with Bundy and newly-confirmed BLM director Neil Kornze, who elected to release the cattle and de-escalate the situation. As of the end of 2015, Cliven Bundy continued to graze his cattle on federal land and still had not paid the grazing fees.
On February 10, 2016, Cliven Bundy traveled to Portland, Oregon, in response to federal law enforcement moving to end a standoff led by his sons Ammon and Ryan at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He was arrested at the airport by the FBI and was incarcerated at the Multnomah County Jail. He was indicted for 16 federal felonies on February 17, along with Ammon and Ryan Bundy, militia leader Ryan Payne, and broadcaster Peter Santilli, who were already under arrest for their role in the Malheur standoff. Another 14 individuals were charged on March 3, 2016. Santilli subsequently pled guilty to felony conspiracy to injure or impede a federal officer.
Cliven and Ammon Bundy, and their supporters, have claimed that the federal government lacks the authority to manage public lands. These arguments have been repeatedly rejected by legal scholars and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court; the property clause of the United States Constitution grants plenary authority to Congress to manage federal property, including land.
And they are also Mormons and believe this was somehow part of the plan of the Elohim.
It was surreal when it happened. Like something out of a movie. A poorly written movie, in fact. And that is always interesting to me: when reality itself appears to be poorly written because you can’t comprehend the motivations of characters and their actions seem unrealistic.
A federal judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the criminal conspiracy case against rancher Cliven Bundy and three other defendants, saying government lawyers suppressed key evidence that would have been favorable to the defendants’ case related to a 2014 standoff with federal agents.
U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro determined that the prosecution suppressed evidence from FBI surveillance cameras recording the Bundy family home and the presence of Bureau of Land Management snipers around the property in the days leading up to the standoff there. Additionally, the prosecution did not provide FBI logs, maps, reports and threat assessments that said the Bundy family was not dangerous.
lol yeah – if you’ve got record of snipers in place and records documenting that the people are not dangerous, you’re going to need to suppress at least one of those things for sure.
Navarro pointed to assessments conducted by the FBI, the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center and the BLM that said “the Bundy family is not violent” and that they “would probably get in your face, but not get into a shootout.”
The court “regrettably believes a mistrial is the only suitable option,” Navarro told the packed Nevada courtroom. “A fair trial at this point is impossible.”
The case accused Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and Montana militiaman Ryan Payne of conspiring to commit a crime against BLM officers during the armed standoff near the family ranch in Nevada.
Navarro spoke of several reports that were also kept from the defense that showed that the Bundy family’s cows — which had been illegally grazing on public lands for more than 20 years when the BLM orchestrated a roundup of the cattle — had “no detrimental impact on Desert Tortoise habitat.” The tortoise is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
This thing sure doesn’t look like it would make a very good dessert.
Now a soup – sure. I can dig that.
Such details cast doubt on the government’s portrait of the family as violent, paranoid, anti-government extremists. But Navarro noted to the courtroom that declaring a mistrial does not mean that the men are being found not guilty.
“That is not the court’s decision,” Navarro said. “It is for a jury to decide.”
As of Wednesday evening, Cliven Bundy was still incarcerated, but his attorney, Bret Whipple, said he planned to file an emergency motion to see his client released from jail without conditions. The Bundy family patriarch, along with other defendants, was granted conditional release earlier this month, but Cliven Bundy chose to stay in jail until he was allowed to leave without GPS monitoring, which Bundy said would “acknowledge that he did something wrong,” Whipple said.
Both sides have until Dec. 29 to file briefs on whether the judge should allow the government to pursue a new trial.
“I do not think there is a jury in this country that will convict us,” Ammon Bundy said outside the courthouse, an arm slung around his mother’s shoulders as he spoke to reporters. “The truth is on our side.”
The mistrial “does bring a lot of vindication to us,” he said, noting that Navarro “talked about our family, my dad, how he wasn’t prone to use violence. My dad has said that many, many times. He’s not a violent man. He’s a man of peace. He only wanted his rights to be protected.”
So okay, I guess this is good.
I like seeing the feds lose.
Although I really don’t think people should be doing armed takeovers of government land.
I doubt there will be another trial, after the Feds were disgraced like this.
There is one thing I want to make clear here: now that it’s over, this story needs to be made into a movie.
Directed by Tim Burton.
With Johnny Depp as Cliven Bundy.
Helen Bonham Carter as a talking cow.
And Christopher Lee as Elohim.
It could be the greatest film of our generation and finally save the careers of both Burton and Depp.
There is nothing stopping this from happening.
Get er done.