Cliven Bundy and his sons have been indicted on federal charges and are being held without bond. The elder Bundy, his son Ammon Bundy, and two other men are being held with two others who were involved in BLM standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada in 2014.
On Wednesday, a Nevada grand jury chose to indict Cliven Bundy and his sons almost two years after the standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM controls nearly 40 percent of the land in the West that is owned by the federal government. Ryan Payne and Peter Santilli were also listed in the federal indictment.
The indictments over the Nevada standoff come just a few weeks after Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and other members of the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom ended the Burns, Oregon, standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 17, 2016
Ranchers and farmers in western states have long been at odds with the BLM. Increasing restrictions on public land usage and long-standing agriculture leases have posed obstacles for the men and women who grow and raise the food Americans consume. Some of the Bureau of Land Management opponents feel that the massive amount of land owned by the federal government harms local economies by taking away from the tax base.
Ammon Bundy and his group, dubbed the “Oregon Militia,” also contend that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to hold permanent title to land not used for offices, military bases, and other official government business.
“The rule of law has been reaffirmed with these charges,” Daniel Bogden, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada said in a prepared statement. “Persons who use force and violence against federal law enforcement officers who are enforcing court orders, and nearly causing catastrophic loss of life or injury to others, will be brought to justice.”
Cliven Bundy and his sons, along with the two other BLM protesters, were each indicted on 16 charges related to the Nevada standoff at the Bundy ranch, MSN reports. Bundy, 69, began his protest against the Bureau of Land Management amid a host of other ranchers angry about grazing fees and land restrictions.
When he arrived at the airport in Portland, Oregon, to visit his sons in jail on February 10, Cliven Bundy was arrested. Ammon is a rancher in Idaho, Ryan works a ranch in Nevada, Peter Santilli is from Ohio, and Ryan Payne is a Montana rancher.
— Gerald M. (@nukker3) February 9, 2016
Cliven Bundy is accused of being part of a conspiracy to “commit an offense against the United States” and conspiracy to injure or impeded a federal officer, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer, weapon use and possession, obstruction, extortion, and attempting to interfere with “commerce and interstate travel in aid or extortion.”
During the Bundy ranch standoff, about 200 hundred people, both local residents and some like-minded folks from around the country, went to the Nevada ranch to support Cliven’s fight against the BLM. During the standoff, about 400 head of Bundy’s cattle were rounded up and moved off the federal land by agents. Disturbing photos shared by the Bundy family indicate that many of the cattle, especially calves, were killed in the process and left to rot.
Nevada FBI agent Laura Bucheit said that the Bundy indictments send a “resounding message” to Americans who want to engage in “violent acts” that the federal agency will enforce existing laws in an “unwavering” fashion.
During an interview with the Oregonian, Ammon Bundy’s attorney, Mike Arnold, said that it is important that the public remembers that there is still a “constitutional presumption of innocence in America.” The lawyer added that an indictment or a criminal charge by the government is not proof of any wrongdoing.
No arraignment date has yet been set for Cliven Bundy, his sons, and the other two BLM protesters who were just recently indicted on federal charges.
What do you think about the actions of the Bundy family, the federal government ownership of a massive amount of land, and the supervision of that land by the BLM?
[Photo by John Locher/AP]