“…there were no incidents of actual aggression on the parts of any of the protesters. There were over a hundred protesters who went to Bunkerville to defend Bundy’s cattle, but many on the scene were women, children, and curious onlookers. It’s true the feds were ‘outnumbered,’ but the implication that they were met with an armed force of aggressive protesters verges on the absurd.”
by Marjorie Haun
As federal prosecutors gear up to try the ‘tier-1’ defendants in the Bundy Ranch trial, beginning in October, it might be helpful to revisit the points on which the feds, thus far, have failed to convict all but 2 of the defendants. One possible factor is the abundance on the Internet of personal footage, professional news video, and thousands of still photos of federal law enforcement officers (LEOs) from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and FBI, who swarmed Cliven Bundy’s ranch in a military-style raid in April of 2014. The prosecution’s narrative that ‘federal personnel were in fear for their lives’ rings hollow when the visual evidence is presented. But that visual evidence, to a large degree, has not been allowed into Judge Gloria Navarro’s Las Vegas courtroom. Nevertheless, most of it remains in the public domain.
During the first phase of the trial last March, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, testified for the prosecution. The initial trial ended in a mistrial, and the retrial of the same defendants on the same counts, concluded in August of 2017 and ended with a number of acquittals, as well as a deadlocked jury on counts against 2 defendants. On March 9, Las Vegas Now reported about Sheriff Lombardo’s testimony:
The Bureau of Land Management put together a complex operation to round up the cattle, but on April 12th, Bundy supporters showed up and some of them were armed.
BLM agents and local law enforcement were outnumbered. Sheriff Lombardo helped negotiate the release of cattle so that the standoff would end peacefully.
Cameras aren’t allowed inside federal court, but this is what Lombardo told the I-Team in 2014. It was very similar to what he told reporter George Knapp.
“We were outgunned, outmanned, there would not have been a good result from it,” Lombardo said. “The bottom line is, bloodshed over cattle, unacceptable. Nobody wanted to go in that direction.”
Lombardo said, in court, he didn’t know what kind of training the armed protestors may have had. He was concerned there might be an accidental discharge or that someone would fire their gun because emotions were running so high.
There were a number of protesters present who possessed sidearms, and held them in an ‘open-carry’ fashion, which is constitutionally permissible, and, as ranchers, part of their working gear. One protester, Eric Parker, was photographed on an overpass using a rifle to scope law enforcement officers who had guns trained on protesters, onlookers and even members of the media who were watching events unfold from the overpass and nearby embankments.
Eric Parker, acquitted in the second trial of most counts, is awaiting a third-trial on charges of assault and threats against Bureau of Land Management agents. Although media have used photos of Parker with his rifle, eyeing the goings on below from between cement barriers atop the I-15 overpass, to symbolize the ‘aggression’ of the protesters, one can clearly see that curious tourists, many with cameras, are standing just feet away from Parker, apparently with no fear for their safety.
Leaked footage, apparently taken by an unidentified BLM officer, largely neutralizes the prosecution’s case that government LEO’s were, in the words of Sheriff Lombardo, ‘outgunned and outmanned.’ And although Sheriff Lombardo stated that there was ‘fear’ among the LEOs and ’emotions’ were running high, there were no incidents of actual aggression on the parts of any of the protesters.
There were over a hundred protesters who went to Bunkerville to defend Bundy’s cattle, but many on the scene were women, children, and curious onlookers. It’s true the feds were ‘outnumbered,’ but the implication that they were met with an armed force of aggressive protesters verges on the absurd. All the armed protesters stayed within the boundaries of their rights to ‘keep and bear arms’ under the 2nd Amendment, and exhibited civil behavior. The charge that Eric Parker ever posed an actual threat to federal agents has not yet been proven. In fact, as seen in the video below, it was leaders of the protest who approached the lead LEO of the operation, BLM Special Agent Dan Love, and told him that those under his command who had high power rifles aimed at protesters, were ‘escalating’ the tensions and needed to back off.
The final phase of the Bundy Ranch trial is set to begin next month. This will be the feds’ third attempt at convicting several of the defendants, including Eric Parker and Scott Drexler, both from Idaho. According to newly-released court documents, federal prosecutors are pulling out all stops in order to get the convictions they seek, including using social media posts and interactions to prove ‘conspiracy.’ But if convicted, the elderly Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and other defendants may face decades in federal prison. It is likely Judge Navarro will continue to put impossible restrictions on the defense, and disallow any evidence casting a bad light on the federal government, but we encourage you to share this article, and help ensure that as many Americans as possible can view the leaked footage above, so they may be able to make a more balanced determination about who were the aggressors in Bunkerville, Nevada in April of 2014.