Cliven Bundy, accused of leading an armed standoff two years ago, drew crowds of supporters at his arraignment. The Bundy family organized the demonstration for Cliven, who faces a possible life sentence.
On Wednesday, the protesters set up outside the federal courthouse where the rancher was due for his 2 p.m. arraignment in U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman’s courtroom. Several of the protesters carried large American flags, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and called attention to Robert “LaVoy” Finicum’s death at the hands of law enforcement officers in Oregon.
The Bundy family members were also there, including matriarch Carol, who told the AP, “We’re a strong family and we stand together. I want the world to see that.”
Bundy was arrested in Portland, Oregon. He had arrived there on February 10th, hoping to join his sons in the Oregon wildlife refuge occupation, but he was taken into custody and transported back to Nevada.
Cliven Bundy now faces 16 felony counts, including obstruction of justice, extortion, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, and using and carrying a firearm in a violent crime. If convicted, the penalties could add up to a life sentence.
Prosecutors wrote, “the evidence overwhelmingly establishes that Bundy was the leader, organizer and main beneficiary of the conspiracy to impede and assault federal officers.”
They are asking the judge to deny the rancher bail, explaining that he has refused to follow court orders in the past and pledged to continue his resistance. The Bundy family still insists that the federal government has no right to the territory around their 160-acre ranch, and they refuse to pay the $1.1 million in leasing fees and penalties for their cattle to graze there.
In April of 2014, Cliven Bundy started an armed protest group to stop the federal government from rounding up his cows. The sheriff released the cattle to de-escalate the situation, and the rancher went back to grazing on federal land without paying the fees in 2015, but his 20-year fight might be coming to an end.
Cliven received the support of conservative lawmakers and members of the media before making racially biased comments, but his fight was a strange phenomenon for most of the country. In Nevada, the federal government owns roughly 84.9 percent of the land, which leads to regular complaints from ranchers and others according to the Atlantic, but this is an unknown situation in most of the country.
Although Nevada is the most extreme case, federal land ownership is pervasive across all western states, including Oregon, where Cliven’s sons Ammon and Ryan led an occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, that protest lasted 41 days and led to the death of rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. The last occupiers left on February 11th.
Now Ammon and Ryan face charges related to the Oregon standoff and join their brothers, David and Melvyn, in a legal battle over the 2014 Nevada protest.
As with most Bundy-related demonstrations, officers at the Nevada courthouse expected participants to be armed. Still, Officer Larry Hadfield, a Las Vegas police spokesman, insisted they could handle it.
“We support constitutional rights to protest and lawful assembly. We have a number of resources that will assist in keeping everyone involved safe.”
It’s not clear what the next step is for 69-year-old Cliven Bundy. His co-defendants, son David Bundy and Gerald DeLemus, are both being held without bail, which might mean Cliven will also be denied release on bond.
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]
Cliven Bundy Faces Life In Prison, Supporters Demonstrate At Courthouse