Brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, like their father before them, continued their attempts to defy the U.S. Government and its criminal justice system when they refused to enter pleas last week in a Nevada courtroom.
The two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three others arrested for their involvement in the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge were brought to Las Vegas from Portland to be arraigned on charges related to the April 2014 armed confrontation in Bunkerville, Nev.
When the Bundys and co-defendants Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier and Blaine Cooper refused to enter pleas at a routine arraignment proceeding on Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. entered not guilty pleas for each man and ordered them to remain in custody pending trial, The Associated Press reported.
Last month, Cliven Bundy, 69, also refused to enter a plea at his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. His refusal also led the court to enter a not guilty plea, a routine step for a defendant who’s presumed innocent while awaiting trial.
The Bundy patriarch and four of his sons, including Melvin and David, are among the 19 people charged in a 16-count federal indictment returned by a grand jury last month in Las Vegas. The charges include, conspiracy, obstruction, extortion and assault on a federal officer stemming from their alleged roles in the April 12, 2014, showdown with federal agents at Bunkerville, near the Bundy family ranch.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with Payne, Cavalier and Cooper, also are among 26 defendants under indictment in Oregon for their roles in the 41-day takeover early this year of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.
It now appears that the Oregon prosecution will proceed first, with a Sept. 7 trial date currently set.
The defendants used their Nevada court appearance to continue to voice their antigovernment sentiment.
Ammon Bundy alleged he had been mistreated by jailers since arriving in Las Vegas, including not being fed and being handcuffed for 23 hours straight, the Review-Journal reported.
Ryan Bundy told the court that he wants to act as his own lawyer.
Brian Cavalier attempted to give federal prosecutors a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Blaine Cooper and Ryan Payne said their rights are being violated.
“I don’t see how we are being treated as innocent in any way,” Ammon Bundy told the court.
At the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, an estimated two dozen Bundy supporters gathered, some carrying signs and flags.
The protesters included Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, who has publicly backed the Bundys. Fiore, now running for Congress, has accused federal authorities of “governing by gunpoint for an unpaid bill,” a reference to the Bundy family’s fight with the Bureau of Land Management over unpaid cattle grazing fees, the Las Vegas newspaper reported.
“We really need to get these patriots released,” Fiore said. “We want to make sure our patriots know we stand with them.”