The arrest of Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of the Bundy brood whose sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy are now in custody for their role in taking of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near the town of Burns, Oregon, may signal the beginning of the end of the 40-day standoff.
Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.
Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m.
He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer — the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges.
The Bundy Ranch Facebook page reported Cliven Bundy was surrounded by SWAT officers and detained after his arrival from Nevada.
He was arrested at 10:10 p.m., authorities said.
The Bundy patriarch had traveled to Portland with plans to go on to Burns, where four occupiers had been the remaining holdouts of the refuge occupation.
The young Bundys were arrested on their way to a town meeting nearby and Ammon Bundy has appealed from their jail for the four remaining holdouts to give themselves in. They have refused without guarantees that they will either not be arrested or be given a pardon. This was always a non-starter. The elder Bundy had gone against his sons’ advice and told the holdouts to hang tough and called for militia reinforcements to go to Burns in support.
The situation was sticky for the government. You always want to avoid being the initiator of any action that leads to violence. Forcing your entry into the compound and trying to take them by force would, in the event of violence, make the government appear to be the aggressor and the holdouts martyrs. It is much better if you can arrest people when they come out of their strongholds and into the open, as they did with the young Bundys and others on a public road, though the death of LaVoy Finicum eliminated the possibility of a completely bloodless conclusion.
One of the major criticisms leveled at the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco and Firearms in the disaster that took place at Waco, Texas was that David Koresh, the person they wanted to arrest, used to frequently visit the nearby town and hang out with the locals. He could have been easily arrested on any one one of those occasions. Instead the BATF decided to storm the armed compound and were met with armed resistance that ended with a massive loss of life of people. The BATF had apparently informed the media earlier so that they were on hand to show this display of government power, and this news apparently had leaked so that the people in the Branch Dravidian compound were prepared for the attack.
The government seemed to have learned the lesson. When the government finally cut off power and most communications to the Malheur site and surrounded it, it signaled that after a month they had run out of patience but that they were going to force the holdouts out rather than try and storm the place.
Cliven Bundy, though, did not seem to have learned this lesson. After successfully defying the government to come and get him from his ranch in Nevada, and after seeing what happened to his sons when they emerged from the refuge, you would think that he would stay put in his own ranch and issue calls for resistance from there. But he announced that he was personally going to Oregon. I thought that this was a poor move tactically and was not in the least surprised to hear that he had been arrested at the Portland airport.
The remaining holdouts have said that they were turning themselves in at 11:00am ET today but kept up the defiant talk, saying “We’re not surrendering, we’re turning ourselves in. It’s going against everything we believe in.”
It will be interesting to see what happens to Cliven Bundy now because he has become the symbol of the movement that thinks that they get to interpret the constitution..
The Oregonian newspaper reported that Cliven Bundy faces charges related to the 2014 standoff between federal agents and militia members on his Nevada ranch. The charges include conspiracy to interfere with a federal officer.
The Bureau of Land Management said at the time of the 2014 standoff that Cliven Bundy owed over $1 million in fees and penalties for trespassing cattle on federal property without a permit over 20 years. Bundy refuses to acknowledge federal authority over public lands.
The standoff began after the Bureau of Land Management impounded Bundy’s cattle that were found on federal property. However, federal agents later backed down and allowed Bundy’s supporters to turn the cattle loose.
Bundy’s sons have been denied bail and I cannot see him getting bail either since he would likely go back to his ranch and call upon the militias to defend him. I am still puzzled by what made him think that it was a good idea to go to Oregon and even to publicly announce this move in advance. Did his successful defiance of the government on his own property make him think that he had some kind of general immunity? Maybe he was flying on Southwest Airlines and took too seriously their ads that say “You are now free to move around the country”.