The Cause – What To Do?
Outpost of Freedom
June 12, 2017
I have been writing about the Bundy Affair since April 12, 2014 and the Burns Chronicles since February 2, 2016. Both evolved out of a common grievance, Public Lands, and the rights that are inherent in them. There are other commonalities, such as some of the players involved in both events and the fact that both had left behind the concept of Civil Disobedience and had entered the realm of Civil Defiance. Those players, unlike most other patriots, had moved along “The Other (not so) Thin Line” to a point where their actions were intended to speak louder than their words.
The first event, in Nevada, the Bundy Affair, was an evolution from an event back in 1993 when Cliven Bundy, supported by hundreds of patriots who went to his ranch to side with him, defied the federal government and first stood for his right to continue both grazing and water permits necessary to continue his ranching business. Cliven Bundy’s right to his historical use of the public lands culminated on April 12, 2014, or so we thought, in the “Unrustling” of the cattle that had been rustled by agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
In 2015, in Oregon, Dwight and Steven Hammond had been “resentenced” for a “crime”, though they had already served their time. Their “crime” was the use of controlled burn and backfire to do what ranchers and the BLM have done for over a century. The first is to destroy unwanted vegetation, the second, to control an existing fire in order to protect property.
This was not the beginning of their ordeal with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Their ordeal began almost a decade before Cliven Bundy’s first confrontation with an out of control federal government. The FWS had been trying to restrict the Hammond’s ranching by cutting of water supply, fencing public corridors, and requiring annual licensing for what were perpetual rights to Public Land Usage. “The Harassment of the Hammonds” dates back to October 1986.
For all intents, the Hammonds were tried, sentenced, served their time, and left prison as free men. The government waited until all of this was done before filing an appeal to the Appellate Court, contending that they should have been sentenced according to the Sentencing Guidelines. Funny, the word guidelines isn’t mandatory, simply a guide. But, more on that in a future article.
The resentencing of the Hammonds raised the indignation of some of those players from the Bundy Affair, and others who had, possibly a result of what they witnessed in April 2014, moved further along that “Thin Line”. Unable to convince the Hammonds that they should not turn themselves in for the additional 4+ years they would now have to serve, the objective changed to the FWS, the aggressors against the Hammonds.
There had been a planned demonstration in support of the Hammonds scheduled for January 2, 2016, just two days before they were to turn themselves over to the US Marshal Service to begin their second punishment for the first crime. This demonstration, like many others, was Civil Disobedience. However, behind the scenes, a plan of Civil Defiance had been hatched. It was left to those who either went to Burns, Oregon, before or after the January 2 event to decide just how far along that “Thin Line” they had moved. Unfortunately, many who claim that they are “fed up with the Feds” are not fully committed to action. Instead, they chose to act big and criticize what was acted out by those who were more committed and chose to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR), an FWS facility about thirty miles south of Burns, and the adversary of the Hammonds rights for three decades.
For nearly a month, the Civil Defiance brought attention to the country, and the world, that the historical rights of Public Land usage were being trampled upon by the government. The government, possibly absent any legal standing to deal with the occupation of the MNWR, chose to ambush a two vehicle, eight-person convoy going to a public event in John Day, Grant County, north of Burns.
Lying to the Oregon State Police (OSP), the FBI claimed that they were making a “felony stop” (legally, to stop the completion of a felony) and/or to serve an arrest warrant. The warrant, however, was not issued until after seven were arrested and one murdered, while in transit to the event in John Day.
Rather ironically, in the subsequent trial of the leadership of the occupation, they were found Not Guilty. However, in the second trial, that of mostly followers, they were found guilty of both the felony charges and the additional misdemeanor charges the government brought to assure that they could get at least a few convictions, after spending millions of taxpayer’s dollars going after those who had brought attention to those egregious misdeeds of government.
Even after the arrests and murder, there were four others who would not “give up the ship”; Sandy and Sean Anderson, David Fry, and Jeff Banta. These “Final Four” remained on the Refuge for another 11 days, until they chose to peacefully surrender.
We can look to those who were indicted in Oregon, along with others who came to support the effort by remaining at the Refuge during the month long incident. They, most assuredly, have moved long that “Thin Line”.
Unfortunately, the government also had nine paid informants as participants between January 2 and January 26 (date of the murder of LaVoy Finicum), and six paid informants that reported from outside of the MNWR. Those informants have crossed a line, not moved along the “Thin Line”.
Shortly after the arrests were made, the government, with all of their paramilitary forces, decided that it was now safe to move on many of the active players in the Bundy Affair of nearly two years prior. Cliven had flown to Oregon to see his sons, Ammon and Ryan. He was arrested shortly after he got off the airplane — nice and safe, since they knew he didn’t have a weapon. But, heck, I don’t think Cliven Bundy ever carried a weapon back in 2014.
The Indictment and subsequence Superseding Indictment listed a number of those who were under Indictment in Oregon. The government was intent on quashing the First Amendment Right to Redress of Grievance, opting to circumvent the Constitution by using statutory and administrative law, with no reference to the defendant’s constitutionally protected rights.
So, at this point, we have three identifiable issues. First, Cliven Bundy and his rights; Second, Dwight and Steven Hammond and their rights; and, Third, the proper use of the Public Lands.
What people have rallied behind is the proper use of Public Land, as intended by the Founders and applied properly for over two centuries. Both the Bundy and Hammond situations have made them the “poster children” people for the Public Lands movement.
The trials in Portland (MNWR occupation) are over. The trials of those indicted in Nevada have begun, though with a very shaky (for the government) start. The first trial included six defendants and was identified as “Tier 3”. Tier 3 was those who had been identified as having possessed firearms (pesky Second Amendment) during the Unrustling on April 12, 2014. In a rather interesting “verdict”, only two of the defendants, Greg Burleson (a previously paid government informant) who was convicted on 8 counts of the Indictment, and Todd Engel, convicted of 2 counts.
Rather interestingly, at one point, the jury found all of the defendants Not Guilty of the two primary charges (Counts 1 & 2), and neither Burleson nor Engel was found guilty of those counts. However, the jury struck the Not Guilty checkmarks on the Verdict sheet. The Court then determined that the two found guilty need not stand trial, again, however, the remaining four defendants will stand trial, again (double jeopardy?) on charges that the jury had previously found them not guilty of. The government, apparently, hope that they can impanel a new jury that will buy the government line and find them guilty.
Interestingly, the trial was determined to be a “Mistrial” by Judge Navarro, though the guilty verdicts are still applicable. It appears that it was only a two-thirds “mistrial”, since only the remaining for defendants will stand trial, again, beginning July 10, 2017. Surprisingly, a single trial can be divided into two trials, one bringing convictions, the other to endeavor to bring more convictions.
So, what does this have to do with “What To Do?” Well, there are two parts to that answer. First, which has been alluded to already is just where one is along that Thin Line. Some are simply in the learning stage. That is the stage that everyone has gone through — some recently, others decades ago. Longevity is not a factor in that progression. Some learn faster, others find themselves in circumstances that accelerate the progression. Often, means are a factor. If one has a meager income versus expenses, then he will ‘invest’ where best suits his mental progression along that line. Others may have obligations that keep them from being able to participate in some aspects. There are some that will respond to the call, when the severity of a situation achieves a sort of boiling point — the need to commit, for the sake of others, comes when that point is reached. Still others may be at a point along the Thin Line where they are not willing to invest any more time than simply continuing to learn what they can, from the comfort of their own home. Similarly, others may see, let’s say, a demonstration, as unproductive — they are saving their resources for an event that they anticipate will warrant them dropping everything to respond. They perceive that Civil Disobedience is unproductive and refuse to participate — even though those that do practice such disobedience do bring attention to the objective, increasing public knowledge of an event. None of these should be faulted, for as one might not agree with another, it is quite likely that the other does not agree with the one.
The aspect of participation now being put side, let’s move on to the Cause. We will use the current situation, as described above, as the Cause. Public Land, Cliven Bundy, and the Hammonds. That’s it! That is where the investment, whichever level, is deemed appropriate for the individual, with respect for the Cause.
Suppose someone decides to extend the Cause to include other aspects. Again, using the current circumstances, suppose some decide to include prisoner abuse in the Cause objective. Does that mean that everyone should subscribe to this new entry into the field? Recently, the focus was shifted from those standing or awaiting trial in Nevada to prisoner abuse. Heck prisoner abuse has been going on for decades, if not centuries. Is there anybody that does not realize that regardless of what it is now, it used to be bread, water, and hard labor, or worse? Granted, many suffer such abuse, even before trial. I wrote about Kevin Massey’s pre-conviction treatment in the Camp Lone Star series. However, the focus has always been on the subject of the charges against Massey.
Now, I don’t want to demean those who are concerned with prisoner abuse. There is no doubt that many of us may be subjected to such abuse, as we progress along that Thin Line. Expect it, but keep your focus on the more important goals. It is more important to focus on the Public Land policies (and, we have seen some fruit come from the efforts of those who will stand, or have stood, trial). It is important to focus on the trial — the judicial abuse — far more than it is to focus on prisoner abuse though I don’t doubt that some things have changed at the Southern Nevada Detention Center in Pahrump, because of the efforts of a few. Unfortunately, that redirection to prisoner abuse is focused on two people, Ammon and Ryan Bundy. What of the other defendants? What of Cliven, Dwight, and Steven? What of Public Land policy? They seem to have been abandoned by those who became the most vocal in Nevada.
Even worse were some recent events in Las Vegas. It was on Memorial Day weekend. Las Vegas has a rather high veteran population, as does any city with a VA hospital. An inverted flag (yes, under the given circumstances, it offended me, too — see “Memorial Day 2017“) was flown at a busy intersection. A veteran, possibly at least partially intoxicated, but still a veteran who served his country, as he saw fit when he did serve, chose to educate those with the inverted flag. However, they were not willing to listen and, perhaps, become educated in what veterans feel. Instead, they determined that the veteran was a coward for fighting for his country, and was trying to steal their flag — though even when he was told he could take it, he chose not to take (or steal) it.
Unfortunately, the Bundy name was brought up during this confrontation. So, the veteran chose to associate the Bundys with the inverted flag. That makes it quite difficult to gain a sympathetic ear to the Cause, even though that Cause seems to have excluded the original and common purpose. Now, it focuses on one man, and there are legitimate questions as to the veracity to some of what has been presented as the true circumstances that led to the focus on the two individuals (Ammon and Ryan Bundy).
When was the last time that the common Cause uttered Cliven Bundy, Dwight Hammond, Steven Hammond, Pubic Land policy? What happened to the other defendants in Nevada and those convicted in Oregon? What happened to the focus that brought thousands together in their respective support to the Cause? Have these all been abandoned?
Some of those who have been staunch supporters of the elements of the Cause objected to what happened on Memorial Day weekend. They are accused of creating division. There are near relentless attacks on those who have steadfastly supported the original Cause, many from as early as April 2014. Though until that weekend, had uttered no objection to those who chose to add the prisoner abuse issue to the agenda.
Unfortunately, now we see the consequences of merging an additional purpose, to the detriment of the original Cause. Like an old battle flag, the Cause has become tattered and worn — and, perhaps, lost in the turmoil that the new battle brought to the game.