Meet Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the Activists Leading the Oregon Standoff – NBCNews.com
LIke father, like sons.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of the gun-toting protesters who have occupied a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, learned defiance against the U.S. government from their dad, Cliven.
Like their father, a Nevada rancher who became infamous in 2014 when he staged an armed standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Bundy brothers believe Washington is bent on gobbling up their land and that of other ranchers.
“The only violence that, if it comes our way, will be because government is wanting their building back,” Ammon Bundy told TODAY on Monday. “We’re putting nobody in harm’s way. We are not threatening anybody. We’re 30 miles out of the closest town.”
Earlier, he claimed he and his followers were prepared to occupy the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge “for as long as needs be.”
“Once they can use these lands as free men, then we will have accomplished what we came to accomplish,” he said.
The “they” in this case are Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, who are facing jail for setting arson fires that spread to government lands — and who say they didn’t ask for the Bundy clan’s help.
Ammon Bundy, 40, insisted they were acting with the blessing of other angry ranchers in Burns, Oregon, who believe the Hammonds are being railroaded by the feds.
“We’ve been able to see that these ranchers have been in this situation that’s really a form of tyranny,” he said.
Ryan Bundy, 43, said in an interview with NBC News on Sunday that the Hammond family’s case was “an example of the terrorism that the federal government is placing upon the people.”
And in statement posted Saturday on his website, 69-year-old Cliven Bundy said the Hammonds were being punished unfairly.
“The United States Justice Department has NO jurisdiction or authority within the State of Oregon, County of Harney over this type of ranch management,” he said. “These lands are not under U.S. treaties or commerce, they are not article 4 territories, and Congress does not have unlimited power.”
A Mormon and a father of 14, Cliven Bundy galloped to national fame two years ago when he — with the help of several dozen armed supporters — chased off some federal rangers. The rangers had been acting on a court order when they tried to confiscate 500 of Bundy’s cattle for illegally grazing his herd on public land since 1993.
While Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, called the Bundy family patriarch a “domestic terrorist,” the state’s Republican senator Dean Heller called him a “patriot.” Cliven Bundy became a right-wing darling thanks, in part, to frequent coverage of the land drama by FOX News.
Meanwhile, Cliven Bundy’s sons rallied behind their dad.
“We ran them out of here,” Ammon Bundy boasted, referring to the feds. “We were serious. We weren’t playing around.”
But the Republicans who embraced Cliven Bundy — like GOP presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — backed away after he was quoted in a New York Times article making racist remarks about African-Americans.
Neither Bundy son lives on the ranch in Bunkerville, some 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, which has been in the family since the 1870s.
Ammon Bundy lives in a Phoenix, Arizona, suburb and runs a valet car fleet service, according to public records. Like his dad, he is a registered Republican and has a hunting license. He has also contributed to Infowars web site run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
In a November 2014 piece for the website, Ammon Bundy described being stopped by a TSA agent at a Phoenix airport and speculated that he was being hassled because Reid branded him “a terrorist against the people of this country, the people I love and would so willingly to give my life for.”
Ryan Bundy is a former Republican who is currently not affiliated with any political party, according to records. He lives in Cedar City, Utah, and owns a construction company. He has reportedly took part in protests against the BLM’s decision to bar all-terrain vehicles from Utah’s environmentally sensitive Recapture Canyon.