Bunkerville Was Never About The Cows
by Shari Dovale
Photo Credit: (Unless otherwise noted) All 2014 Bunkerville Standoff photos are courtesy of Shannon Bushman, PeekPromotion.com
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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