Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ryan Bundy's opening statement: 'We don't pay rent for something we own'

By Maxine Bernstein

Ryan Bundy, leaning his left arm on a courtroom podium, told jurors Wednesday that his remark to do "whatever it takes'' wasn't a threat but a statement of his determination to protect his family's rights as the government prepared to round up his father's cattle. "We own the grazing rights. We own the water rights on that area, and we don't pay rent for something we own,'' he said in an hourlong opening statement as the federal trial continued in the April 2014 armed standoff near his father's ranch. Ryan Bundy, freshly released from jail to a halfway house after nearly two years in custody, began by displaying a photo of his wife and eight children, then asked the jurors to transport themselves from the congestion and noise of Las Vegas to the much quieter desert where his life began. "I want to take you out into the hills and see the beauty of our land, the beautiful sunsets ... the setting moon, the bush. The desert is a harsh place sometimes. Picture yourself on a horse. ... Place yourself there,'' he said. "Feel the freedom.'' He said the government won't be able to prove his family meant to harm the government. Instead, he said, they were standing up for their rights. "There was no conspiracy to impede, to injure, to harm,'' said Bundy, who is representing himself. "No, we're just trying to protect our life, our liberty, the rights we do own, our livelihood, our heritage.'' He characterized the government as abusing its power and called those who came from across the country to support his family "heroes'' for saving their lives. Bundy said his family was skeptical of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and believed its true intent was to manage his father out of business. He noted that the bureau had successfully rounded up about 400 head of cattle, so he questioned how he, his father, brothers and co-defendants could be accused of preventing the impoundment. By early April, he said federal snipers trained rifles on him and the Bundy ranch and officers harassed members of his family, including brothers David and Ammon and an aunt. He pledged to continue to "do whatever it takes'' to protect his rights, urged jurors to "stand up for freedom'' and invited them to visit his family's ranch when the trial is done. "I love this land,'' he said. "I am a free man and I intend to stay so.''...more 

And from Ryan Bundy tells Las Vegas jury: ‘I am an innocent man’

Ryan Bundy invoked personal freedom and constitutional rights, God and religion, state history and his family’s deep roots in the desert landscape Wednesday as he proclaimed his innocence to a federal jury in Las Vegas. The defendant, who is acting as his own attorney, is facing criminal charges with his father, Southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy; brother Ammon; and a Montana militia man.  They are accused of conspiring in an armed standoff against federal agents. “My family and I have been charged with some pretty grievous things, and I want to tell you these are not true,” Ryan Bundy said during his opening statement. “I am an innocent man. My father is an innocent man. My brothers are innocent men. And all of those who came to support us are innocent.” During more than an hour of Ryan Bundy’s remarks, a picture of him with his wife and their eight young children was frozen on a projection screen on a wall of the courtroom. The defendant came to court dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and black-and-brown tie. Ryan Payne, a leader of a militia dubbed Operation Mutual Aid and a Cliven Bundy bodyguard during the standoff, sat several feet away, next to his federal public defenders, wearing a black button-down shirt with the words “We the people” emblazoned on the back in white letters. Cliven and Ammon Bundy wore red jail jumpsuits. Three of the defendants remain in custody without bail, while Ryan Bundy has been released to a federal halfway house...

And from Let out of jail after nearly two years, Ryan Bundy arrives to court in style

Ryan Bundy, released to a halfway house on the eve of the Nevada standoff trial, stepped from a white limousine Tuesday outside the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, dressed in a black suit and wearing a white cowboy hat. He shook the hands of supporters gathered outside the courthouse, participated in a prayer circle in the courthouse corridor and then sat in the public gallery of the seventh-floor courtroom to watch a lesser player in the April 2014 confrontation plead guilty. After a first day of opening statements Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro said Ryan Bundy could be allowed to leave the halfway house soon for an approved home, but must remain on home detention with GPS monitoring. He's only allowed to leave to attend court, church or meet with defense lawyers in his case. His limousine ride to court was provided by friends, but his wife said she didn't know who arranged or paid for it. Ryan Bundy said it was the first time he ever rode in a limo. Ryan Bundy had walked out of custody and the federal courthouse about 5:30 p.m. on Monday after spending a year and nearly 10 months in custody. "This incarceration I hated every day. Every day I hated it, yet I'm very thankful for it because I've grown so much,'' he told family and supporters who greeted him. "I've grown closer to my father in heaven. I've learned a lot about the law. I've learned a lot about the people who are incarcerated, and most of them are not what you think. I've seen the atrocities by the government upon many many people and I'm appalled by it.''

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