Anti Government Assaults

Burns, Oregon, resident Steve Atkins, left, talks with Ammon Bundy, center, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, following a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, in January 2016. Bundy’s family played central roles in a 2014 standoff over grazing fees in Nevada and the 2016 occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

EMMETT — Ammon Bundy hosted on Thursday a meeting in Emmett, where he called on attendees to pledge to defend Idahoans who are pressured to comply with a stay-home order enacted this week by Gov. Brad Little.

Reached by phone Friday, Bundy said the gathering was about discussing the state's self-isolation order. 

"We discussed with each other whether our rights can be taken by an order from a governor or an agency, and if they can be, what good are our rights?" Bundy said. 

Little on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-home order for all Idahoans for 21 days. The order requires all residents “to self-isolate at home if you can, not just if you are sick,” according to the governor’s office.

Bundy said self-isolation during the spread of the coronavirus is "not a bad thing."

"I'm not sure it's warranted completely to even ask that, but that's not the argument here," he said. "If it was a guideline, I would applaud it. It's not, it's an order."

A 19-minute video of Thursday's two-hour meeting, recorded live and posted on a public Facebook account, shows Bundy pledging to help provide legal, political and physical defense to people who are pressured by the "authorities" or anybody else to comply with the order. 

"I will be there," Bundy said. "I will bring as many people as we can. We will form a legal defense for you, a political defense for you, and we will also, if necessary, provide a physical defense for you, so that you can continue in your rights."

Bundy asked meeting attendees to sign a piece of paper, provide their contact information and "agree that, as someone decides to stand, we form a legal and political and physical defense." Bundy said he knows "a lot of good people" that have "a tremendous amount of legal capabilities," and there are people who are "very effective at political" defense.

"If you are within your rights, acting, and you are receiving pressure or force from anybody … that this is the people that you contact," he said, referring to the pledge paper. "What their job is, is to activate everybody in the situation."

Bundy said the "situation" could be "so and so needs (us) to go down to his business," or "so and so (needs us) to file suit, grievance." Bundy also said that a "bad actor," or someone who infringes on peoples' rights, could be targeted for protests at their homes.

"We need to find out who's the bad actor here," he said. "We need to go to his house and act in that way."

Bundy told the Idaho Press he's not opposed to weapons being used in a situation where "physical defense" is required. 

"When someone's rights are being violated for whatever reason … then thousands of people come and surround that person and bring a tremendous, a lot of attention and bring accountability to the bad actors," he said. "The First Amendment is secured by the Second Amendment."

Earlier on Thursday, Bundy, who lives near Emmett, posted a Facebook video inviting "all the people of Idaho" to come to a "people's meeting."

"The last time it was illegal to meet together as a people on this land was before the Revolutionary War," said Bundy, wearing a cowboy hat and filming himself. "Since we won our independence, it has never been illegal to assemble as a people."

In 2016, Bundy helped lead the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He also participated in an armed standoff with federal law enforcement at his father's Nevada ranch in 2014. 

The Thursday meeting was held in an industrial building in Emmett, which Bundy owns and leases. The video shows more than a dozen people in attendance, both sitting and standing, and they mostly appeared to be keeping some distance from one another. Bundy said he plans to host another meeting next week at the same location.

The meeting likely violates the state's stay-home order. At a Friday press conference, Little said he has the authority to outlaw public gatherings, even political gatherings. He said gatherings are discouraged and are "frankly in violation of this stay-home order."

"There's no difference between a political gathering and any other gathering," Little said. 

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