BUNKERVILLE, Nev., May 15, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — It’s been more than two years since Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy — along with his sons and hundreds of supporters — made headlines in their resistance of heavily armed Federal agents as they attempted to seize the family’s cattle in a dispute over grazing fees with the BLM.
On Saturday, with 70-year-old Cliven Bundy in solitary confinement and four sons behind bars facing years in Federal prison — Cliven’s wife, Carole Bundy, along with a group simply known along the Arizona Strip as The Bundy Women, gathered at the site of the standoff as they prepare to do battle with the government yet again.
Only this time around there were no militia members — just a small army of defense attorneys and their private investigators who had come to survey the site of the 2014 standoff.
One of The Bundy Women — MaryLynn Bundy, wife of Cliven’s son Dave Bundy, will spend Monday in a Nevada courtroom, where she’ll learn whether her husband will be released from custody pending trial on conspiracy and other charges related to the Bunkerville standoff.
“I’m really hoping something will touch the judge and the judge will do what is right, and let him come home,” MaryLynn Bundy told Gephardt Daily.
Dave and MaryLynn Bundy have lived in Delta, Utah for the past three years.
He was taken into custody March 3, 2016 shortly after his brothers Ammon and Lyle here arrested for their roles in the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuges outside Burns, Oregon.
As many as 20 law enforcement agents took part in the Utah arrest, which went down at a construction site where Bundy and his wife are building a house.
Now, money saved to build the family’s new home is being spent on legal fees.
MaryLynn says the situation is taking not only taking a toll on the family finances, but emotionally as well. Her three boys and three girls, those who are old enough to talk, keep asking when their dad will be home.
“I don’t have an answer for them,” she said, struggling to keep her composure. “I’m not going to tell them when he’ll be home because I don’t know. And that’s hard.”
Dave Bundy was originally arrested in 2014 after clashing with BLM officers during the standoff. His extended family told attorneys on on Saturday Dave had been thrown to the ground and kicked repeatedly before being handcuffed and led away.
Supporters also claim Dave was unarmed during the standoff and ultimately played the role of peacemaker in bringing the conflict to an end.
Prosecutors however paint an altogether different picture. During a March 2016 detention hearing in Salt Lake City, Andrew Choate, assistant U.S. Attorney, said the peacemaker claims are a farce.
“The government believes that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Choate told a federal judge. “They will tell you that after the events had taken place, after the BLM had stood down, there was one person on the whole Bundy side, on the entire armed resistance side that allowed the federal law enforcement agencies to exit the wash with their lives, it was Dave Bundy. We’ll admit that. But it’s too little too late. What he did actually shows that he does have power and authority over his entire group.”
The decision on whether Dave Bundy will be freed pending trial will be made at 2 p.m. Monday.
Dave Bundy’s attorney, Cal J. Potter, sees his client’s defense as a First Amendment case.
“You have a ranching family that’s been here for over 100 years, so you have a situation where they were trying to do to what they believe was right, exercising their First Amendment rights,” Potter said.
“(It was) clearly threatening, using deadly force on members of the family. The mothers had their children there, so it’s a situation where you see first hand the brutality to the cattle.”
Potter said that when Federal officers arrived with heavy armament and snipers to take the Bundys’ cattle, “It was an overreaction.
“I mean, all these things, you wouldn’t believe happen in America, and particularly here in Clark County, Nevada.”
Potter also hopes Dave Bundy’s case will be helped by letters attesting to his character, provided by local officials.
MaryLynn Bundy said she tries to help her children understand why their father is in jail.
“We’re here in this country that they put away a man who is innocent, and he didn’t do anything wrong. And that’s really hard for them to understand.”
“I let them know that he (Dave) has several chances that the judge will do what’s right and they will let our dad come home,” she said.
The two 20-minute visits the family is allowed per week, to talk to Dave over a video system, never seem like enough, MaryLynn said.
“I have six kids so I have to split the time, and it’s hard for them to say goodbye,” she said. “When I say, ‘Your 5 minutes is up,’ they really just cant believe it, like, ‘No, that wasn’t enough time and I didn’t get to say goodbye to him.'”
Bundy said she and her children pray each night that the judge will decide to release Dave while he awaits trial. Potter said if it doesn’t happen Monday, he will continue to file requests and appeals to the decision.
MaryLynn Bundy says her kids just want to know when Dad will be back, and life will be like it was.
“That’s a really good question,” she said. “I have no idea.”