The Face of Federal Over-reach in America
By Scott Michael Rohter, October 2016
Dateline: Portland, Oregon – October 4, 2016
More than anyone else in America, Ammon and Ryan Bundy are leading the fight to change the way that Congress administers public land. These two dedicated individuals are sacrificing their lives to keep such an important subject as this in front of the Nation’s attention for as long as they have. Federal land use reform is now a part of the Republican Party platform in 2016.
The Bundy’s goal is to get Congress to hold hearings on this subject and ultimately to turn over as much of the federally administered land to State and local control as possible, and as soon as possibly where it can be much better managed by the people of each State. It would certainly go a long way to provide a stable source of funding for many counties in Western States instead of having them go begging to Congress every year for more money to fund rural schools, or police or fire protection. These two courageous brothers have already spent over eight months behind bars for such a worthy cause as this, but if an Oregon jury finds them guilty of conspiracy they could spend a lot more than just eight months in jail.
This is the awesome responsibility of the Portland area jury which has been selected to decide their fate. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice to characterize the Bundys as conspirators or anything they did as a conspiracy. If the Bundys or any of the other defendants charged along with them have to spend one more day in jail it is one day too much. That would be just as wrong as calling Dwight and Stephen Hammond arsonists and sentencing them to spend five years in jail under the Anti Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act for the accidental spred of a small grass fire they started on their property to control weeds which then burned about 130 acres of worthless scrub land they leased from the Bureau of Land Management. Accidents happen. That doesn’t constitute arson.
The law can be an ass at times. In fact, the law can be an ass a lot of times, but the jury in the occupation trial of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has the power to acquit these good men and send them home to their families. It would be a wonderful Christmas this year for Lisa and Angie Bundy.
Ammon Bundy took the witness stand today to testify in his own behalf. It was not easy to watch him as he broke down in tears several times and he told the story of how he and his family have been persecuted over the years by the Bureau of Land Management and how they are being unfairly prosecuted now by the strong arm of the Federal government.
This is a synopsis of his testimony on the witness stand today while he remained under oath.. It is not a word by word transcription of his oral testimony as his remarks were answers to questions posed by his attorney. At times they were interrupted by the prosecutors and at other times by the judge, and they are not necessarily in the exact order here, but you have my word that I have not altered anything of substance in any of his remarks. I know Ammon Bundy and I know his heart, and I have never met a finer man in my entire life nor a man that I admire more… I wouldn’t think of material altering anything of substance in his remarks. The best thing that I could do is to render them as accurately as possible…
A Synopsis of Ammon Bundy’s testimony from October 4th, 2016
“Every man in my family is behind bars” (for defending our property rights)… Law enforcement gang beat my little brother. They threw my aunt Margaret to the ground… I was tazed three times… They impounded and killed our cattle… “ (He did not mention the fact that his brother Ryan was beaten by prison guards at the Multnomah County Detention Center and placed in solitary confinement for a month until trial because he refused to allow the government to remove a bullet which is still in his shoulder.)
“We have rights to use the land we graze our cattle on… These rights belong to us. I grew up on the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in the same house that my father grew up in… My grandfather built that house with his own two hands.. We have lived on that land for five generations… 138 years. The Bundys have worked that land and run our cattle on that land. We have water rights. We have grazing rights, and those rights cannot just be taken away from us. We own those rights.” Without those rights we cannot succeed as ranchers. We can’t even survive.
When I first heard about the problems that the Hammonds were having with the BLM in Oregon my first instinct was to ignore it.. My plate was full. I did not want to help them, but my father told me that the same thing was happening to the Hammond family that had happened to us. I still did not want to help them, but one night I couldn’t sleep. I felt it in my spirit that I couldn’t ignore them anymore so I began to read about them. The more I learned about the Hammonds and the problems they were having in Oregon the more I became convinced that I couldn’t keep ignoring what was going on in Oregon so I decided to visit them. “My father is a good father. He taught me to care for others who need help. Its part of my job as a Christian.
I drove to the Hammond Ranch in Oregon and I met Stephen. Later I met with Susie and Dwight. They are good people… the salt of the earth, but they seemed discouraged and about ready to give up. They were convinced that they could not win against the power of the federal government. Several weeks later they called me and told me that their attorney had received warnings purporting to be from the Federal government that if they didn’t break off their communications with me… that extreme pain would come to their family. They told me that they could not talk to me anymore. That’s when I realized this kind of abuse by the Federal government had gone on long enough. I decided that something had to be done. What happened to our family in Nevada was now happening to the Hammond family in Oregon and it had to stop…
To be continued