Ammon Bundy gained fame for leading the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge in protest of the federal government, making him a hero among many on the far-right.
But now Bundy has broken sharply with this faction, quitting the militia movement and expressing his support for the migrant caravan heading toward the United States from Central America, while sharply criticizing Donald Trump. As New York Magazine reported, Bundy spoke out in a Facebook video, suggesting that Trump’s vision of America looks more like the rise of the Nazi Party in 1930s Germany.
In the video, Bundy said that people seeking asylum in the United States should not be treated like criminals, but instead as people seeking a better life for their families.
“To group them all up like, frankly, our president has done — you know, trying to speak respectfully — but he has basically called them all criminals and said they’re not coming in here,” Bundy said. “What about individuals, those who have come for reasons of need for their families, you know, the fathers and mothers and children that come here and were willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually?”
Bundy, whose family and movement was deeply religious, said he believes Americans have “been asked by God to help” welcome and assist the people seeking asylum here. In staking this claim, Bundy announced that he was shutting down his social media accounts and cutting ties with “patriot groups,” as he believed that supporting Donald Trump was not true patriotism.
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Bundy pushed back against the assertion that he was ever a leader of the movement. He classified the occupation of the wildlife reserve as a specific protest to the government, not any kind of larger political statement.
“I never joined a movement,” he said. “We were a ranching family. We were ranching, and the government came to take our livelihood away, and we said ‘no.’ It was no more than that.”
Ammon Bundy spoke kindly about the migrant caravans. The backlash has him reevaluating his supporters. https://t.co/bqylTu0DJu— Luis Camacho (@animemoto) December 8, 2018
Ammon Bundy’s decision to quit the militia movement and break from Trump earned him some scorn from others who had been with him, the Washington Post noted. Some accused him of being paid by “globalists,” and his Facebook video was filled with comments attacking him and the decision to so publicly criticize the president.