Cliven Bundy, Bundy Ranch, FBI discussed on 99 Percent Invisible


Thrive. In downtown Las Vegas. The bundy's come alive with the atmosphere from the lobby outside the courtroom, a neon cowboy flickers on the corner of Fremont street. He's in the saddle atop a giant rearing. Bronco. The family seems like they feel right at home in Vegas. They revel in having an audience on the first day of the trial. Ryan Bundy pulls up to the courthouse in white stretch, limo. During the trial in Portland riders on horseback Gallup down, busy city streets, a tailgate party with hot dogs and burgers fills the sidewalk, the create a circus everywhere they go even in court. As the trial starts prosecutors in the bundy's only agree on a few things. I what happened at Bundy ranch was important. Second cliven Bundy owes a lot of grazing fees. They just disagree on who he owes them to third cliven sons, Amnon. Ryan brought armed men to Oregon two years later to take over the mouth here, national wildlife refuge. But was it a protest or an armed occupation beyond those points? It was like I was watching the national debate over alternative facts and fake news play out in a courtroom. I in Oregon, and then Nevada attorneys for the government would tell the jury. These cases were simple. They described the bundy's as a menace. They said, cliven and his sons trespassed on federal land stole from the American people used intimidation to stop federal workers from doing their jobs. It was all there in the evidence. They said, we have Ammon. In in the others on video, and they did. We have basically taking over the national wildlife refuge and we're planning on staying here for several years. Prosecutors talked about the main charge in both cases, this idea of the bundy's and their followers conspiring to impede federal officers from doing their jobs. They showed a lot of maps. They talked about things most urbanites, probably don't care much about grazing permits water rights for a whole day. The FBI described how they picked up evidence of the refuge, how they put it in Baggies and Senate to lab technicians than the technicians log it. And why did I come to court today? The jurors look board in the front row. I watched this one woman nod off and not just for a second. The judge's clerk had to nudge her awake. She giggled to herself. The prosecution had presented its case is if the details we're going to be picked apart by other lawyers, but they weren't up against lawyers. Ryan Bundy was acting his own attorney. And when he stood up to present his case, he painted a very compelling picture about life out west. He talked about him in his brother's children, waiting in the waters of the virgin river. Sunrises moon rises chasing frogs hunting rabbits running across the desert dogs at their heels. Ryan talked about a family living in an unforgiving land, finding beauty and solace among the desert shadows, finding life in a place where so many things can't survive. And then he talked about jack-booted agents armed for war, federal snipers surrounding the Nevada ranch. Cliven Bundy said the f. b. i. mounted cameras to record his every move. It was a story about a terrified family cornered and needing to defend its way of life. For his side of things. The woman in the jury box was wide awake. Star by saying, I, I certainly did not see this result coming out against Kevin. Sally is a Portland based defense attorney who watched the Oregon trial play out in two thousand sixteen. He says, prosecutors had to decide how to deal with the bundys version of events and one of the choices you always have to make as sort of a lawyer when you're when you're facing. Kind of a counter argument is how how much do you want to have engaged and thereby sort of dignified that argument as opposed to sort of dismissing it in Oregon prosecutors didn't engage the Bundy version of the story. Even after Ammon talked for days in court about the constitution about how he believes it's a legal for the federal government to own land beliefs, legal scholar laugh at. Prosecutors didn't touch, it guess. I mean, I may well have done the same thing be because if you think that your opponent's argument just really, really weak, then you're arguably doing a disservice to your case by kind of, you know, bringing it up and elevating it and discussing. It said they hid it away. They didn't want to talk about the bundy's disproven views on the constitution, how many years they'd been working. The land m and Bundy sat on the stand for three days, talking telling jurors his family's way of life was under attack. When it came time for the prosecutors to cross examine him, they questioned him for less than fifteen minutes. In Nevada, prosecutors, hit away other things too. They didn't tell defense attorneys, the cliven was right about guys with guns, camping out near his property, and his family was being recorded at one point, FBI agents, disguised as a film crew actually infiltrated the Bundy family home. All of these government missteps, the dismissive tones, the evidence they hid because they said it was a relevant. It all came across as arrogant. You could hear in the prosecutors voices that they felt like they had a slam dunk case. They were right. The bundy's were not, and that couldn't be clear in the end. Sally says, that seemed to be the government's downfall, but the thought about, I thought, you know, what did also to some degree kind of presupposes the answer to what a lot of this case was about. At least some people's minds which is, you know, do citizens kind of have a right to object in disagree with what the government does with land that it considers to be its own. Here's how one Oregon jer who asked to remain anonymous phrase the defenses message. This this case is about the death of rural America, and that has got me thinking, if if you farmers don't have the ability in a -sarily to prosper in those venues in which they're going to raise, whether it's logging or animal stuff, it's just got me thinking a lot about that. That message about the death of rural America. It worked. At Malaya. There were armed men patrolling a government facility. They took their guns up a fire tower and Doug battle trenches, in case the FBI tried to come in. But in court the fact that all those things are a legal that didn't matter the bundy's one in Oregon Amnon. Ryan Bundy were acquitted by a jury in Nevada case. Never even got to the jury. The judge declared a mistrial because prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense evidence that actually might have made the bundy's look good in the eyes of the jury, like how it really was surveilling the bundy's and prosecutors didn't mention that FBI threat assessments determined the bundy's themselves were unlikely to be violent. I came into the trial skeptical of the Bundy worldview. But after listening to expert after expert, explain why cliven and his sons were wrong in their actions wrong for their beliefs. I can tell you at times it's tough to tell which side of the courtroom is actually telling the truth about what the family did because the truth about this family about the movement they've sparked just, isn't that simple. It's it's a stake. That's that's where I'm headed. God bless America today after having been arrested two years earlier, cliven Bundy walked out of jail in the first days of two thousand eighteen. His cowboy hat was back on his head, his legs free of shackles. He raised a fist in victory. Over the federal government. We had a protest county sheriff. Even the question of whether it was a standoff was still up for debate. Everything was in bundy's is. Contract with the federal government. This court has jurisdiction over this matter when sense it's a federal government have to have an army that comes against we, the people he called out as he hadn't twenty fourteen for people stand up to the government on Bundy ranked. They stuck their guns down our throats. Within days of getting out of jail. Cliven was on the steps of the sheriff's office on a loudspeaker making demands just as he had done in two thousand fourteen. That's when I realized the bundy's story is hardly over. We're good with this is a bitter government comes after. Again, we will definitely tell them the truth, the truth after the trial's it felt like the truth was even more difficult to figure out people traveled from around the country to see the Nevada trial. Journalists critics, Wendy sympathizers environmentalists. They came to see the wheels of Justice, turn out long desired answers about what this is. All meant to understand what the bundy's actions mean about the future of protests. But the future of the American west to say something definitive about the movement, the family tapped into three years prior, but a mistrial doesn't settle any of those questions. If anything, the proceedings raised new questions for people on the fence about the bundy's everything they stand for. If the bundy's had lost their occupations would be a footnote to the fight over public lands in the west. Their story would be about a fringe uprising fizzled out. But because of the government's missteps in the bundy's court victory, their views on who owns the west, have been legitimised least in the eyes of their followers. So if you want to know what the fight over public lands in the west is going to look like going forward, you have to understand the bundy's how they think how that thinking, seduces their followers. To understand the bundy's. You have to trace their long and twisted family tree and understand the history of backroom, deals by politicians trying to undermine the federal government. It's a story of white supremacists nuclear weapons, and a little known book that explains the fringe religious beliefs behind cliven bundy's whole movements. Next time on bunny Ville. I dig into klivans passed, and I find answers. Is

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