Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
November 15th, 2017
At long last, Ryan Bundy is allowed to use the Constitution in his defense. For nearly a year, he has been locked up on trumped up charges, accused of being a terrorist, abused while incarcerated, and all for trying to uphold the Constitution against the tyrannical agency, the Bureau of Land Management, which itself is unconstitutional.
Ryan Bundy, leaning his left arm on a courtroom podium, told jurors that his remark to federal rangers that he’d do “whatever it takes” in April 2014 regarding a planned federal roundup of his father’s cattle wasn’t a threat, but a statement of his determination to protect his family’s rights.
“We own the grazing rights. We own the water rights on that area, and we don’t pay rent for something we own,” said Bundy, dressed in his black suit, a white dress shirt and striped tie.
Bundy brought a yellow legal pad of notes to the podium and stood before jurors on the second day of opening statements, his second day out of custody in a year and nearly 10 months.
His father Cliven Bundy, brother Ammon Bundy, co-defendant Ryan Payne and he have pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, weapons and other charges stemming from the armed standoff with federal land rangers and law enforcement who were attempting to carry out court orders to corral the Bundy cows trespassing on federal public land near Bunkerville after the Bundys’ refusal to pay more than 20 years of grazing fees and penalties, Oregon Live reports.
Prosecutors accuse the Bundys of blocking federal convoys involved in the cattle impoundment, and amassing a “small army of militia” to beat back federal rangers and law enforcement to abandon their operation, and ultimately release the cattle.
Bundy began by displaying a photo of his wife and eight children, and then asked the jurors, who he presumed were more familiar with the congestion and noise of Las Vegas, to transport themselves to the beauty and scenery of the much quieter desert where his life began.
“I want to take you out into the hills and see the beauty of our land, the beautiful sunsets…the setting moon, the bush. The desert is a harsh place sometimes. Picture yourself on a horse…Place yourself there,” he said. “Feel the freedom.”
In an opening statement that lasted just over an hour, Ryan Bundy said the government won’t be able to prove his family’s actions in the spring of 2014 were meant to harm the government. Instead, he said, they were about standing up for their rights.
At times, his voice cracked with emotion. Other times, his address resembled more of a lecture, explaining to jurors his thoughts on the origin of militias, God-given rights and the Second Amendment. Ryan Bundy spoke confidently and made eye contact with jurors throughout. Some jurors passed a bowl of sucking candies to one another during his address.
“There was no conspiracy to impede, to injure, to harm,” he said. “No, we’re just trying to protect our life, our liberty, the rights we do own, our livelihood, our heritage.”
He characterized the government as abusing its power, and called those who came from across the country to support his family “heroes” for saving their lives. Bundy said his family is skeptical of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and believes its true intent was to manage his father “out of business. He pointed out that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had successfully rounded up about 400 head of cattle by April 12, 2014, so he questioned how he, his father, brothers and co-defendants are accused of preventing the cattle impoundment.
“They gathered nearly 400 head. Did we ever stop them?” he asked. “Again, we don’t agree with the court order, but still we didn’t violate it.”
By early April, he said there were federal snipers armed with rifles trained on him and the Bundy Ranch, irritating their dogs who sensed something was amiss. He said law enforcement abused his brother David Bundy, when officers threw him to the ground and arrested him in early April 2014 for taking video or photos of officers on hills and “them stealing our cattle.”
He said his brother Ammon Bundy was stunned with a Taser three times because Ammon Bundy rode an ATV into a dump truck carrying away piping from the Bundy’s privately-owned water springs, which was not part of any court order.
He decried what he called the “head chucking” of his Aunt Margaret Houston to the ground, a move the government said was done “for her own security” after she tried to block a federal convoy. And, he mocked the restricted First Amendment zones set up near the federal command center for the cattle impound operation, calling them “pig pens” that restricted their free speech.
“We were attacked and our home was surrounded. You should have seen all the guns pointed at us – hundreds, or so it felt,” Ryan Bundy said. “Snipers pointed directly at me…My father felt surrounded.”
Pausing, his voice quivering, he added, “That’s not what American is folks. America’s supposed to be a land of liberty, a land where a man’s rights are honored.”
Ryan Bundy praised the Clark County sheriff for ultimately stepping in to make sure the Bundy cattle were released, and said he was beside the sheriff or his deputy during most of the April confrontation. Prosecutors said the cattle were abandoned because federal officers were outnumbered by armed militia, and no one wanted a “drop of blood spilled over cattle.”
Ryan Bundy appealed to jurors to see through the “lies, the fabricated stories” of the government, and its indictment.
“You want to talk about extortion? You want to talk about violence? You want to talk about pointing guns? ” Ryan Bundy asked. “Everything that we are charged with is what they are doing to us, and the people saw it and they said, ‘no, no, no, no. We’re not going to allow this.”
If any of the Bundy supporters who came with guns arrived in the dried-up wash off Interstate 15 , about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, just for the opportunity to point their guns at a government official, that’s “unbeknownst to us,” he said. “I can’t speak for every person there,” he added.
He pledged to continue to “do whatever it takes” to protect his rights, urged jurors to “stand up for freedom,” and invited them to visit his family’s ranch when the trial is done.
“I love this land,” Ryan Bundy said. “I am a free man and I intend to stay so,”
Payne’s lawyer is expected to give an opening statement Wednesday afternoon. Ammon Bundy’s lawyers have chosen to waive their openings until prosecutors conclude their presentation of evidence, noting they’re still waiting for requested discovery involving FBI emails.
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