Property rights activists and militia agitators Ammon and Ryan Bundy will remain in police custody during the wait for their trial.
Ammon and his younger brother Ryan are being held on charges related to two acts of armed defiance and occupation against federal agents.
A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a petition by two brothers who led the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon to be freed ahead of their trial, citing in part what he said was an aborted jailbreak attempt by one of them.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who spent a month in January holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to protest federal land control in the West, sought their release from custody during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday ahead of their September trial.
In rejecting that request in a three-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Jones said he could not overlook their participation in the standoff with a large arsenal of weapons and their belief that “placing an armed force between officials seeking to enforce lawful orders and themselves is justified by their interpretation of the Constitution.”
The charges against the brothers in this trial are conspiracy to use force, intimidation, or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties — for their occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
In addition to the Bundy brothers, 24 other people have been charged in connection with the armed takeover of the remote federal facility in Oregon this past January.
The Malheur standoff was the result of protests over the arrest of two Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son. The Hammonds were forced to report for a federal prison sentence over charges of domestic terrorism relating to controlled fire burns on their land.
Defenders of the ranchers argue they are being grossly mischarged for what constitutes standard land management practice out West. As local protests became more desperate, a group led by the Bundys broke off and seized the remote and unoccupied Malheur Refuge.
As the standoff between the militia occupiers and law enforcement heated up, the Bundys expanded the issue at hand to include the level of federal land control in the western states. Federal agencies possess hundreds of millions of acres of public land out West — largely taken by edict from ranchers, loggers and miners.
Critics of the federal government in the Hammond case argued that the true purpose of these charges was to take ownership of the Hammond property. The Bundys connected the treatment of the Hammonds to the armed showdown over their own Nevada ranch in 2014. There too, militia responded in the name of small government and personal liberty to prevent the federal government from destroying the Bundys’ livelihood.
The Bundy family has begun a rallying cry for many in the militia and small-government movements. Opinions are mixed over whether Ammon’s and Ryan’s occupation of the Malheur Refuge was heroic or misguided. However, there are few on the conservative side of politics who believe the Bundys presented any real danger.
Since their arrest in a questionable police stop that left one civilian dead, there have been accusations flying of unfair and abusive treatment of the Bundys and their allies by the federal legal system. There is the appearance of spite and retribution in many of the decisions that have been leveled against them.
The release of the Bundys was denied partially on the grounds that Ryan Bundy was caught making a braided rope out of torn up sheets and other items for a Hollywood-esque style escape. Ryan Bundy denies preparing for any such bizarre escape, and explained he was merely passing the time by exercising braiding.
The Bundys have remained in custody since their arrest Jan. 26th, with little or no contact with family or the outside world.
Both Bundy brothers, and their elderly father, will next have to faces charges for the armed defense of their own cattle in 2014.
The judge’s ruling to deny release of the Bundys specifically targets the Second Amendment rights of Americans to arm themselves for defense against enemies both foreign and domestic.