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Bunkerville Was Never About The Cows

The next trial will begin October 10, 2017.

Bunkerville Was Never About The Cows

Bunkerville Was Never About The Cows

by Shari Dovale

Photo Credit: (Unless otherwise noted) All 2014 Bunkerville Standoff photos are courtesy of Shannon Bushman,

Bunkerville Standoff

After seeing their God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights being trampled on by the over-reaching Federal alphabet agencies, people across the nation rallied to defend the rights our country was founded on.

(Pictured: Cliven Bundy walks by a first amendment area set up by the Bureau of Land Management near Bunkerville, Nev.)

Videos on network news stations and around the internet depicted an elderly woman being thrown to the ground by law enforcement, a man being tazed repeatedly, and a “first amendment zone” set up miles away for protesters to stay out of the way of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

These citizens rightfully feared another Waco or Ruby Ridge encounter, and believed that citizens showing up in force, with cameras to record and witnesses to confirm, would reign-in the out-of-control government.

The government came heavily armed with hundreds of officers. They carried military-grade weapons and dressed in Battle-ready uniforms. That side of the fence looked like a war zone from Afghanistan.


The other side of the fence showed men, women, and children standing around under a highway overpass. Some had sidearms, as is legal in Nevada. Some had long guns, as is also legal in the state. Some carried protest signs, and still others rode on horseback.

A few folks had questions as to whether the BLM had legal orders to remove Cliven Bundy’s cattle. Most did not care. They knew nothing about cows, or grazing rights, or ranching in the desert.

They knew about the First Amendment, the Second Amendment and the other rights they saw were not available to these citizens.

They came and they stood. They saw government weapons being pointed at them. They feared for their lives, yet they did not back down. They stood until the cows came home and the federal agents left the area.

These people were successful. There were no shots fired that day. No one was hurt and everyone left within hours to return to their homes and their normal, everyday lives.

Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Fast forward 2 years. The government is still smarting from the citizens challenge of their behavior. They have not attempted to take the cows from Bundy again. They have let that go.

But they still wanted their Day of Reckoning.

In January 2016, Ammon Bundy, Cliven’s son, held a rally in Burns, Oregon to bring light to the gross injustice done to the ranching family of Dwight Hammond.

Ammon tells the public he will take a “hard stand” at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge 30 miles outside of Burns, in the middle of nowhere. Dozens of people join Ammon to take adverse possession of the Refuge.

The protesters are there for less than a month before the FBI executes an illegal ‘deadman’s roadblock‘ on a lonely highway. This results in the death of LaVoy Finicum, shot in the back by more government agents. It is learned later that these Federal agents lied about firing their weapons at Finicum. They also destroyed evidence at the scene of the crime.

It was not until then that the Federal Government started arresting protesters. Dozens of people were arrested in connection to the Malheur protest as well as for the Bunkerville standoff.

Most of the protesters have been incarcerated since then, over 18 months, without the chance for bail.

finicum shooting
LaVoy Finicum

The Grand Jury

Does anyone wonder about the timing of the arrests? Who is questioning why the government waited two years to arrest the protesters for Bunkerville? It is easily explained when you reason that the Federal government originally tried to indict all of the protesters, with special emphasis on the Bundy Family, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Yes, they wanted to call this Rancher the head of an Organized Crime Family.

However, they are not actually prosecuting them through the RICO Act. Why not?

Special Agent in Charge Dan Love, on April 12, 2014

How many times did the Federal Government have to present this to the Grand Jury before they got some sort of indictments? I have a strong suspicion that the Grand Jury, in the beginning, did not roll over on this indictment any more than the trial jury did. How many bites at this apple did Myhre get?

We do know that most of the evidence against them came from Special Agent in Charge Daniel P. Love. We can surmise that SAC Love built up the case of how scared he was and how dangerous the Bundy’s were, in order to get these indictments.

Or can we?

In actual fact, SAC Dan Love testified to the Grand Jury in October 2015, and stated these men were not a danger, and there was “no threat of violence or force prior to April 12, 2014”.

Love testified, “The propensity for a violent encounter was low to nonexistent. There was nothing to suggest that there would be a violent encounter, no active intelligence beyond what we believed that we would see, you know, kind of the sagebrush rebellion tactics, people blockading vehicles, generally interfering, protesting, trying to impede.”

This is what the BLM expected on April 12, 2014. This is what Ranger Alexandra Burke cried about on the witness stand. She was brought in as a sharpshooter, dressed in her ‘Battle-ready’ gear, and focused her weapons specifically to kill Eric Parker, yet she cried to the jury.


The First Bunkerville Mistrial… and Retrial… and another Retrial?

The trials of the Bunkerville Standoff have been held in Las Vegas, Nevada under the watch of Judge Gloria Navarro. Navarro has split 19 defendants into 3 tiers.

pete santilli dismissed
Pete Santilli

The first tier includes Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, Ryan Payne, and journalist Pete Santilli. They have been called the ‘Leaders’ to this government challenge.

The third tier of defendants, called the ‘least culpable’, were the men who carried the weapons on the bridge overlooking the wash. These included Todd Engel of Idaho, Greg Burleson of Arizona, Eric Parker of Idaho, Steven Stewart of Idaho, Rick Lovelein of Oklahoma, and O. Scott Drexler of Idaho.

Each defendant was charged with 10 charges, including conspiracy charges and multiple gun charges that carried mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. The Tier 3 defendants went to trial first.

Todd Engel

The first trial earlier this year ended with Burleson convicted of 8 out of the 10 charges, Engel convicted of 2 out of 10 charges. With the mandatory minimum guidelines, Burleson was sentenced to 68 years in prison. Engel faces sentencing in September 2017.

The jury did not reach a consensus as to any of the remaining charges in this trial and a mistrial was declared. This includes conspiracy charges. None of the defendants have been convicted of conspiracy charges. The government later decided not to retry Engel on the remaining charges.

The Federal prosecutor, Acting US Attorney Steven Myhre, chose to retry the remaining 4 defendants from Tier 3. This trial resulted in 34 of the 40 charges to be Not Guilty and the remaining charges (against Parker and Drexler) to be deadlocked again. It was announced that the jury vote on the remaining charges were 11-1 in favor of acquittal.

AUSA Myhre showed his anger the next day when asking for Parker and Drexler to continue their incarceration. He showed that the persecution of these men was a very personal thing.

Why is this trial so personal to the government? Why is it so important that they obtain convictions for the “least culpable” defendants in the entire case? They have been tried by two different juries. Yet, AUSA Myhre is so invested in gaining some sort of conviction that it begs the question: WHY?

Greg Burleson’s conviction almost does not count, as it is well considered that he was convicted of being a drunken braggart (thanks to the entrapment of the BLM) and convicted himself after the fact. Todd Engel was not convicted of any gun charges.

Cliven Bundy

However, Cliven Bundy is charged with gun charges. Bundy was not in the wash on April 12, 2014. Yet, the government will argue that Bundy began this conspiracy, therefore he is responsible for the bad acts of everyone else. Myhre needs a gun conviction on these other men to get a gun conviction on Cliven Bundy.

Remember, the gun convictions carry mandatory minimum sentences in prison. If convicted of all gun charges in this case, Bundy would face 57 years for those crimes, plus any other sentence Navarro would deem fit to give him.

Then there is the forfeiture clause. If convicted, the government would walk in and take the family ranch from Bundy’s wife, Carol, and the remaining members of his family.

Judge Gloria Navarro

Judge Navarro has been blatant in her bias against these defendants. She has aided the prosecution at every turn.

She has not allowed the defense to present evidence of why the defendants went to Nevada, yet motive is key in the charges.

She has stated that no citizen is allowed to defend themselves against the government, therefore, “self-defense” is not allowed in this case. Along with that, there cannot be “defense of others”. Additionally, she refuses to allow “provocation by the government” as evidence in this case.

The defendants cannot mention the government snipers on the hill overlooking the protesters, with their high-powered rifles aimed at the people in the wash.

Navarro has refused to allow mention of the first amendment zones set up by the BLM, as they will make the government “look bad”. She has ruled that no bad acts by the government will be allowed in this case.

The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not allowed to be mentioned in front of the jury. The fact that Nevada is an “open carry” state is irrelevant to Judge Navarro.

Defendant Parker was removed from the witness stand and not allowed to testify in his own defense. His crime? He said “I looked up and to the right.”

Navarro has made it clear that these men are not to be allowed any defense.

Yet… the jury still acquitted them. After two separate trials, the government has not been able to obtain convictions against these men.

Even so, Steven Myhre, Gloria Navarro, and their superiors on up the chain, are determined to continue spending the taxpayer money and keep trying until they get a jury to go along with them.

It is not about the cows. It is about putting a stop to any insurrection from the citizenry of these United States.

As Oregon’s US Senator Ron Wyden would say, they need to stop the virus from spreading.

Protesters On Trial

The next trial will begin October 10th. This trial will include the two remaining defendants from Tier 3, Parker and Drexler, as well as all of the defendants from Tier 1.

This week saw roughly a third of Idaho’s Legislators jointly ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as President Trump, to release the remaining defendants from further prosecution. The letter had been submitted to the Court prior to the pre-trial hearing, however, the decision had already been made to put Eric Parker and Scott Drexler in with the Tier One defendants.



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11 Comments on Bunkerville Was Never About The Cows

  1. This Bundy et al case points up two home truths, that power is the enemy of liberty, and that the “Government Interest” is enemy to the public interest. In a scenario become all too familiar, the charges leveled against the Bundys – Lies and deceit…threats and intimidation..conspiracy…a “Show of force”… are the very crimes committed by the Govt. If an invasion of armed BLM goons,helicopters and snipers is not a show of force, I don’t know what is. There are so many threads in this narrative that choosing one to discuss here is a conundrum, but focusing on the next trial – Barring an intervention by Sessions to stop the insanity – You could wonder just what gross skullduggery is left to Navarro and her Gang. As Shari has noted above, they went after Scott, Rick, Eric and Steve like a personal vendetta AND STILL FAILED ! How could they rig this next trial any more than the last ? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result” ?

    • Simple. Jury tampering. It remains to be seen if the prosecution and their pet judge are desperate enough to go there, but it would not surprise me. In the meantime, it is past time for the rest of the nation to add our voices to those of Idaho’s legislators ( I suggest a tone of respectful insistence.

  2. It is heartening to see these principled State Representatives step up in defense of their constituents, but this well founded complaint to the Attorney General bears a strong kinship to another petition for redress, the one sent to Governor Kate Brown of Oregon on behalf of the Hammonds. As we all know, that petition, despite bearing thousands of signatures, was completely ignored by Brown. Our demonstration at Malhure was the last ditch, after all appeals had failed. Will this petition from Idaho be ignored as well ? If the record of cavalier, disdainful behavior by the fed is any indication, this petition will fall on deaf ears. What of the Reps who signed this? will the scales fall from their eyes ?

  3. President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, Please put a stop to these out of control police state activities. We demand freedom…!!!

  4. Yes, we did eventually leave Bundy Ranch and return home, but our lives would never be normal or everyday again.I may have headed to Nevada rather impulsively after seeing a full on Police state in action,but little did I know! We came away invested and committed to this fight,sharing a great spirit and camaraderie and on the road – though we didn’t know it at the time – to Sugar Pine, Big Sky, Malhure, Portland, and now Vegas. WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY, AND WE WON’T SHUT UP ! We are making history folks. Join us….

  5. Wow. The delusion runs so deep. The standoff didn’t end until the cows were released…but somehow this isn’t about cows?? Bundy has threatened violence for 30 years to protect his cows, so when law enforcement attempts to bring sufficient force to remove his cows (there are those cows again!!), Bundy manages to bring in militia and human shields for that militia for the “range war” he has wanted for decades…and it isn’t about cows?? Bundy puts the fools who drink his cool-aid into harms way…demonstrating he holds his cows more valuable than the lives of his supporters…and it isn’t about cows?? The only reason we don’t have a Ruby Ridge or Waco is that Gov. Sandoval and Sheriff Gillespie convince the BLM that no cow is worth the loss of a human life…and somehow this isn’t about cows??

    Bundy supporters have had lots of fun “sticking it to the MAN” with all of this…pointing guns at cops and spreading sovereign citizen BS…but “The MAN”…incompetent as he may be…is now sticking it to Bundy and his cool-aid drinkers. Everyone loses in this case…including “the People” who own the land and who have given Bundy the exclusive right under the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act to graze Gold Butte…crony capitalism from the Roosevelt Administration. Since this really is about the cows, and Bundy refused to pay his grazing fees, it is only just that his cows be removed.

    • I guess you haven’t been informed. Cliven did pay grazing fees till 1997 until the Department of Interior shut down most of his grazing privileges, attempted to block the other half under a National Park Theft and refuse another due to some Tortoise idea.

      He like many of us ask ourselves – WHAT IN THE WORLD is the East Coast doing renting states their own freak-en land? Don’t state borders mean anything? Well it turns out with a little historical research – cliven is right. The U.S. clear back to Madison intended STATES to govern the LAND in their borders ( Seems like a “duh” moment to many of us. ) The whole idea of the Union of States ( Federal ) holding land hostage isn’t any part of their Constitutional duties.

      Progressive – “happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step”
      Communist – “a society in which all property is publicly owned”

      • Perhaps a brief history summary is in order:

        The anti-Federalist Jefferson knowingly and deliberately violated the Constitution when he purchased Louisiana from Napoleon in 1803…and the courts have upheld Federal land ownership beyond those enumerated 10 square miles ever since. The “equal footing” doctrine of the Northwest Ordinance was never in the Constitution. Ordinances can and will change over time…as it did when Congress admitted Nevada as a state in 1864. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to one U.S. Grant at Appomattox…and I don’t believe Grant was a “county sheriff”. Much of the way the 9th and 10th Amendments (“States Rights”) were interpreted–whether you like it or not–was surrendered with Lee’s Army. Given that the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act grants exclusive privileges to welfare ranchers like Bundy (“crony capitalism” at its worst), one could argue the Constitutional prohibition of “titles of nobility” was violated because such privileges are the essence said titles.

        I agree that it is high time “the people” reclaim their land and evict the freeloading Bundy and his cows from off the public commons, which he has abused for way too long.

        I respectfully disagree that I am misinformed. I would assert that Bundy has sold his supporters a load of manure with his tortured and self-serving interpretation of the Constitution and of history.

        • I must say I am on the opposing side of your argument but at least you throw some interesting nuggets into the pot. That being said, in what realm of reality can it even be argued that the Federal Government owning 80% of Nevada appear to be right?

          And to add some depth to the topic, as a liberty loving person and not liking socialism that does not mean I don’t understand socializing policies, and what you call the support of welfare ranchers is what also keeps the price of beef from being $3.00 a pound one year and $25.00 a pound another for a variety of reasons. I prefer the free market in principle but I do understand the leveling and appearingly stabilizing effects of price supports/subsidies and controls in the short term (the long term effect is the degeneration of our monetary system due to government intervention…however, embracing the free market and honest money means accepting the wildly varying prices that can occur due to supply and demand).

          That facet spotlights the point that this land grab is not about the cows or the fees…since the government could write it off as supporting a “welfare rancher” so the price of beef will be stable for the citizenry at large…it is about the land and the plans those in privileged positions can wring out of it (e.g. Senator Harry Reid)…so now, touche, apply the Constitutional prohibition of “titles of nobility” being violated by those in positions of authority because such privileges are the essence of said titles, if you want to talk about abuse of privileges and power.

          You might say, “A Senator has the right to privilege and power”…and that is true…however, look at how many Ranchers around the Bundy’s have went out of business since the 1980’s? With part of the reason being Federal Regulation and the costs of compliance by an out of control Federal Bureaucracy…when in fact the land use in question should be a State issue…which is a large part of Bundy’s argument.

          Have you seen the public land in question? What is going to happen with it that a few wandering cattle would interrupt? THAT is the real question. I live in a sea of BLM land in northeastern Nevada and expect the cattle to return to this range about October 1st…and that is all they do…range about. There is NOTHING virtuous about “the people” reclaiming their land when they have no intention of doing anything with the land. And stop and think about that…what are the Bundy’s doing WITH the land…not much at all…the cattle eat some sagebrush and scrub-brush and fertilize the ground. It is not like the Bundy’s are strip mining or hauling away timber. The sum total of their cattle’s intrusion is some sagebrush and scrub-brush get eaten. Talk about an over-blown cry of foul play.

  6. The policy of the Federal Gov’t since the Civil War has been to divest itself of its land…by giving it away through the Homestead Act. Now if the land to be divested had sufficient water for farming…well…no problem. Just look at Eastern Colorado (which is relatively dry compared to Illinois) but where large-scale farming can still be done without extensive irrigation. That land was homesteaded fairly quickly (and we know about the subsequent “Dust Bowl” during the 1930s.)

    But Nevada is the driest state in the Union…and Clark County is the driest County in that State. The Mojave Desert is the driest desert in all North America. Even with all the land within the borders of the state, without water, there isn’t much that can be done with it. Which is why before extensive electrification (wells) the Federal Gov’t couldn’t even give it away under the Homestead Act. Which explains the 80% of the state still under Federal control. The Eisenhower Administration tried to divest itself of all BLM lands to the states, but was fiercely opposed by the Cattleman’s Associations who feared state taxes and who liked the Federal subsidies that came with their grazing permits at that time. With the environmental movements starting in the 1970s, Federal policies became increasingly more restrictive…and the cattlemen even had to start paying grazing fees. Still…almost all cattle ranchers (except Bundy) recognize they still have a smoking deal even with the grazing fees.

    The Cattlemen’s Associations finally were able to have the Homestead Act repealed in 1976, which they had traditionally opposed as it threatened to reduce the land available for their grazing allotments…”dirt farmers” have been the bane of Western cattle ranchers.

    If you look at cattle production nationwide, Florida alone easily surpasses all of the Western States combined…because it rains and there is an abundance of grass. From a macro perspective, cattle production from off Federal land grazed under the Taylor Grazing Act is very small indeed. It all comes to the availability of water. The impact of cattle production from off Federal land is quite negligible, and would be scarcely noticed at the meat counter in stores even locally.

    I agree that the Gold Butte National Monument declared by Obozo is overreach…and that the area around Valley of Fire is much more interesting as far as tourism is concerned. Whitney Pockets and the petroglyphs in and around Little Finland are worthy of protection, as is perhaps Devil’s Throat. The “ghost town” of Gold Butte is hardly worth the wear on tires…just ain’t nothin to see there.

    Bundy never had permission to graze his cattle on the Lake Meade National Recreation Area. Lake Meade and his access to the Virgin River perhaps has made Bundy’s operation more viable than the ones bought out by Clark County during the 1990s. Gold Butte in the Mojave Desert, unfortunately for Bundy, really doesn’t appear to be intended by the Creator to be a cow pasture, in my opinion. Fact is, Bundy lets his cows graze far beyond the bounds of his allocation boundaries, and has encroached on areas even bought out by Clark County. Which is why every time Bundy went before a court of law arguing his ridiculous legal and historical theories…he lost.

    So with the atrocious administration of Obozo alarming Tea Party types, Bundy convinced ill-educated supporters to act as human shields for the “militia” to point guns at cops who are attempting to enforce legitimate court orders. Resisting arrest has never been protected by the Constitution…under “use of force” guidelines, Drexler and Parker legitimately could have been shot for pointing guns as everyone knows they did. All those human shields around them made that quite problematic. I agree with Gov. Sandoval and Sheriff Gillespie that no cow is worth the life of a human. Just wish Bundy had the same respect for human

    Mr. White, I appreciate the respectful exchange of opinions…though I’m sure we will still disagree. Unfortunately for the Bundy supporters, they are in a tiny minority, and their reasoning evaporates when confronted with facts.

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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