Bundy Brothers Denied Bail in Nevada Standoff

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     LAS VEGAS (CN) — Ryan and Ammon Bundy will remain in jail while awaiting trial on federal charges stemming from an April 2014 standoff with the U.S. government over cattle grazing.
     U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. on Wednesday denied respective motions to release the Bundys from federal custody.
     During Ammon Bundy’s afternoon hearing, his attorney Daniel Hill said he has only been on the case for four days and asked for five more court days to better prepare. Foley denied the request.
     Hill then argued for Ammon Bundy’s release from jail ahead of trial by painting a picture of Bureau of Land Management and federal abuse, saying Ammon Bundy tried to prevent violence, cautioned others against bringing firearms to protests against the BLM, and was only cooking burgers when the BLM elevated tensions.
     Hill argued that more than a week before the April 12, 2014, showdown between the Bundys and their supporters and the federal government, the BLM “constructed and built a compound” with sniper towers and armed snipers in place — all over “cows eating bushes.”
     The attorney said the Bundy family has 200 years of water use and grazing rights on the land in question, but the BLM violated those rights and threatened a woman with death when she took pictures of the federal snipers prior to the standoff.
     Hill accused the BLM of shooting the Bundy family’s cattle and referred to “mass graves of cattle shot from helicopters.” Meanwhile, he said, “[Ammon] Bundy is cooking burgers” to feed the peaceful protestors and supporters.
     “There is an awful lot more to this story,” Hill said.
     U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre painted a much different picture of Ammon Bundy, saying: “He’s a violent man who does not follow the law.”
     Myhre said Bundy has a lack of respect for the Federal Court and law enforcement, and that he does not recognize the federal government’s authority over him or federal lands.
     “He can have those ideologies and beliefs, but he can’t take up guns to enforce them,” Myhre said.
     Myhre said there is “overwhelming evidence” that Ammon Bundy was an organizer and leader of the Nevada standoff, that he called for armed resistance, acted against the BLM — including ramming a BLM truck with his ATV, and extorted the BLM into releasing some 400 cattle it already had rounded up.
     “The cattle are still there. They are still on public land,” Myhre argued.
     He said Ammon Bundy eventually led about 270 of his supporters to the BLM compound to stop the roundup, and estimated that between 40 and 60 of them were armed. Among them were snipers who took aim at federal law enforcement.
     Myhre said the roughly 40 BLM staff and federal law enforcement were “outgunned” and feared for their lives.
     Rather than negotiate a peaceful end to the confrontation, Ammon Bundy demanded the BLM leave immediately to avoid bloodshed, Myhre said.
     Myhre said Ammon Bundy “extorted” the BLM into releasing his family’s cattle and leaving.
     “It was such a violent act. This was a very determined and intentional act,” Myhre said, adding that he repeated it again in Oregon earlier this year at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
     Foley agreed and denied Ammon Bundy’s request to be released from jail while awaiting trial.
     During a morning detention hearing, brother Ryan Bundy represented himself and told Foley the federal government is accusing him of saying and doing things that he did not do.
     “We made no acts of aggression” and only defended their “life, liberty and property,” Ryan Bundy said.
     “We are honorable people. We are peaceful people,” he said. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. These are not among them.”
     Ryan Bundy gave Foley his word that he would show up for all court hearings and is not a threat to the local community. He said currently he is in lockdown 23 hours each day, making it impossible to conduct his defense.
     U.S. Attorney Nicholas Dickinson opposed the Bundy brothers’ respective motions to be release from federal custody, saying their cattle continue to illegally graze on federal land, prior court orders remain unenforced, and the Bundys took up arms against the federal government instead of protesting the BLM’s actions
     Dickinson said Ryan Bundy told the feds they were willing to “give or take a life” and they would “do whatever it takes” to stop the federal roundup of their cattle in April 2014.
     The brothers harassed BLM workers, forced the bureau to release some 400 cattle already gathered to prevent bloodshed, organized hundreds of armed supporters, and continued following and harassing BLM workers well into the summer of 2014 after the Nevada standoff had ended, Dickinson said.
     In denying their respective motions for release, Foley said the Bundy brothers were organizers and leaders of an “armed resistance” against enforcement of federal court orders to gather illegally grazing cattle in Nevada. He also noted the brothers transported firearms to Oregon for use in a brief takeover of federal property there, where one of their friends was shot and killed
     The brothers used the threat of force to shut down the BLM’s roundup of their cattle — which the BLM chose to do to prevent the loss of lives, Foley said, and they both participated in the Oregon standoff last year.
     Foley said the Bundys’ interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is one in which they don’t recognize the federal government’s authority over them, and denied their requests to be released from custody. He found them to be a danger to the community and that they can’t be trusted to attend mandatory hearings.
     Ryan and Ammon Bundy and their father Cliven are scheduled to appear in court again on May 2.