Do not ever get between parents and their kids’ sports. This is an important lesson anyone who has ever witnessed someone go all momma bear at a local soccer match when a referee makes a bad call. Police often attend games to make sure overzealous parents don’t go crazy over minor offenses. With college futures on the line, some parents will not be ok with anyone disrupting their plans.
This is a lesson Ammon Bundy failed to learn when he caused the cancelation of a Caldwell vs. Emmett high school football game1 so he could protest being asked to wear a mask during the pandemic. Bundy, a parent of one of the players on the Emmett high school team was not allowed entry into the game because he refused to follow the host school’s rules and wear a face mask. This football season is dominated by COVID-19 and rules were enacted to ensure the safe re-opening of schools and allow sports to continue.2
What happened at the Caldwell vs. Emmett football game?
After Bundy was denied entry for his mask-less stance, he was asked to watch the game from a nearby public park. He refused and demanded entry. The school administrators called the Caldwell police department because he would not comply with their requests and he refused to leave school property.3 The police assessed the situation and while he may have been trespassing, they decided to not push for making an arrest. Undeterred by the police and the administration, Bundy proceeded to watch the game from outside the football field fence.
The Emmett High School football coach approached the mask-less Bundy and informed him that the Caldwell High School Superintendent planned on canceling the game if he did not end his protest and either leave or follow the rules. Bundy once again refused to follow the rules and the game was canceled at half time.
Every consideration was made to accommodate Bundy and comply with the rules everyone at the game was asked to follow. He could have gone to the park, he could have left, or he could have worn a face mask. 4
The reactions to Bundy’s little stunt were all over the place.
Most people were outraged that Bundy was being selfish and that their kids’ game was canceled. Others thought that Caldwell school administrators were heavy-handed in canceling the games since Bundy was outside the fence and not near anyone he could potentially infect if he was a viral carrier. Some defended Bundy for standing up against tyranny. Others called Bundy selfish and an attention seeker. 5
High School football games do not normally get canceled because some parent standing outside the football field fence refuses to wear a face mask.
Bundy is not just some parent; he is likely on every federal domestic terror watch list6 and has an army of over 27,000 people nationwide ready to strike on a moment’s notice.7
Ammon Bundy and The Battle of Bunkerville
Ammon Bundy has been at the center of every major extremist flashpoint in the past few years. He is an anti-government activist8 who inspires others to be prepared to lay down their lives when he declares something to be tyrannical.
In the spring of 2014, Federal agents converged in Bunkerville, Nevada to round up cattle owned by Cliven Bundy (Ammon Bundy’s father) to cover the $1 million unpaid grazing fee bill. The Bundy clan is part of the sovereign citizens movement, an ideology they believe exempts them from federal laws. The Bundy’s had been intentionally allowing their cattle (many of which had gone feral and unattended) to graze on public lands without paying their grazing permit fees for over 20 years. 9
They had been profiting off the use of taxpayer owned land without compensating the taxpayers.
Ammon, his brother Ryan, and his father Cliven inserted themselves into the many corners of the internet now occupied by QAnon, militias, and far right extremists to call for every like-minded “patriot” to come to their aid.10
They manipulated people into believing the US Government was out to get the Bundy family and trampling their constitutional rights. Like all things Bundy, they used small nuggets of truth mixed with outrageous lies to draw an audience of marginalized people who had been radicalized by far-right conspiracies.
Hundreds of people answered Bundy’s call to arms. Thousands more voiced support online.
When federal agents attempted to round up the cattle, a small band of armed “patriots” shielded by their children stood between the federal agents and the cattle. Men in tactical gear armed with various semi-automatic rifles on a highway bridge stood ready to fire on the federal law enforcement officers if they made a move on the group guarding the Bundy’s cattle from the government agents.11
One shot was all it would take to create a bloodbath between the anti-government extremists and law enforcement officers. People like Washington State Representative Matt Shea were there helping coordinate the militia groups hoping for just that outcome.12
The federal agents backed down, hoping to avoid another Waco or Ruby Ridge13 (both rallying cries for extremists). Thanks to Ammon Bundy and his family’s dishonesty, many of their followers were arrested for their role in the standoff against federal agents.14
To make sense of this insanity, you need to know why people follow Bundy’s extreme views. The foundation of far-right extremism is based on these principles15:
- Extremists’ flawed interpretation of the constitution enables them to believe that the US Government is illegitimate.
- Extremists believe there is an international shadow group (deep state, New World Order, Illuminati, or whatever you want to call it) pulling the strings at the highest levels of government and conspiring to take over the world.
- Extremists believe that the Government is planning on taking everyone’s guns away.
When someone has been radicalized to fundamentally believe these falsehoods, they lose sight of reality and are more likely to engage in dangerous activity.
Normal people do not pull guns on the police because they respect the rule of law. Far-right extremists are anxious to do so because they do not recognize federal law enforcement as legitimate and see them as agents of tyranny.16 Local police enforcing “tyrannical” laws are also targets for violence.
Bundy’s dangerous rhetoric drew some very scary people to come to defend his family’s cows.
Jerad and Amanda Miller answered Bundy’s call to arms and came to Bunkerville ready for action. When the government backed down and no shots were fired, they were disappointed and desperately wanted to carry out Bundy’s dream of fighting the government that they believed to be illegitimate.17
Driven by rage, the Millers drove to nearby North Las Vegas and found two local police officers enjoying lunch at CiCi’s Pizza. They walked up to the officers and executed them. They then draped Gadsden flags and swastikas over their lifeless bodies and stole their guns and ammunition. 18
The yellow flag with the iconic snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” soaked up the blood as they headed to the nearby Walmart and murdered more people until they were killed in an exchange of gunfire with the police. A note pinned to one officer’s body said, “This is the beginning of the revolution”.
The Millers hoped their actions would spark the next civil war where like-minded “patriots” would overthrow the government. This was the same logic that led Timothy McVeigh to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
The Bundy clan fought the government in court over charges stemming from the Bunkerville standoff and due to errors on the side of the government19 and pressure from the Obama administration, the case against them was dropped.
Ammon Bundy’s second attempt to start a civil war
Fresh off their victory against the government in court, Ammon Bundy, Rep. Matt Shea, and Shea’s Coalition of Western States (COWS) decided to make another attempt to start a bloody civil war.20
In January of 2016, Bundy and his militia backed groups occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge21 near Burns, Oregon for over 40 days. Shea and company helped organize and plan the armed takeover of federal property22 often used as a staging area for BLM firefighters.
Once again, a call to arms was made, this time to defend an Oregon father and son who had been arrested and sentenced for setting a fire on public land near their property and were being forced to serve a sentence of five years. The truth was that the Hammonds had lit a fire which they claimed was a back burn to stop a wildfire from burning their land when in fact it was set to cover up illegal poaching.23
Bundy and Shea hid that little detail when they used social media to call up militia members from around the country to come to Hammond’s aid to prevent the local sheriff from taking them into custody. The Hammonds feared the militia actions would create a dangerous situation and decided to go ahead and surrender themselves to the local sheriff. They did not want help from Bundy and Shea24.
Anti-government extremists from around the country answered the call, grabbed their rifles and headed to Burns. The FBI was called in to stop the lawlessness and the militia held their ground for over a month25 until one of the standoff leaders was shot and killed by law enforcement.
Ammon Bundy’s close follower and friend LaVoy Finicum was confronted by law enforcement at a roadblock they had set up. Finicum reached into his jacket multiple times where he had a handgun holstered and said “You back down, or you kill me now.” The police complied with his request.26
Finicum had recently become a rancher and wrote a book where he fantasized about a cowboy getting gunned down by federal agents. He wanted to be a martyr and he made it happen.27
After Finicum’s death, militia members who occupied the federal buildings near Burns were caught on tape saying, “We have our martyr…” (Finicum) and “We need to find a federal employee and take them out, then find their family and take them out….”28
This potentially seditious activity was well documented and labeled as domestic terror in the 108 page report commissioned by the Washington State Legislature.29 The report was ordered after Rep. Matt Shea had been caught publishing a manifesto calling for the killing of all males30 who resisted their State of Liberty plan that centered on forcibly installing Christian Identity principles31 (also known as White Supremacy and Dominionism). The report cited Bundy and Shea’s activities at the Malheur standoff as domestic terrorism32. The investigation and report was led by a former FBI agent.
Ammon Bundy’s angry mob on demand
People who organize small teams who train in the woods to ambush law enforcement are often considered a terrorist threat by the FBI. If these militia small teams or “cells” are based in the United States, they are likely considered potential domestic terror threats.33
Ammon Bundy helped create the “People’s Rights” organization to call up small teams on demand to show up to hot spots he creates to “defend liberty” and “fight tyranny”. His organization’s zone maps line up closely with the Idaho 3% militia zone layout. Each militia zone is led by a “small team” leader and the People’s Rights have a “area assistant” for each zone. In some zones, the area assistant is also a member of the Idaho 3% militia. Idaho militia groups often promote tactical training and “area studies” so they can be ready to fight when things turn sideways.
The current leader of this Idaho 3% militia group was arrested and plead guilty to a federal obstruction of justice charge. The charge was related to his role in the Bunkerville standoff where he aimed a rifle towards federal law enforcement officers.34 The previous leader of the Idaho 3% group was arrested on fraud charges and for pulling a gun on a process server.35
Ammon Bundy moved to Idaho because the state has a high concentration of anti-government groups. He had been invited to Idaho to work closely with these groups over the years and found a far-right friendly audience in our state.
The People’s Rights organization brags about it being a “Uber-like militia response system that can be mobilized at anytime”7.
During the pandemic lockdown, Sara Walton Brady (also known as the Playground Protester) demanded to be arrested after staging a “playdate protest” in Meridian.36 While being handcuffed she cried out, “call the Idaho Freedom Foundation!”. Right on cue, Greg Pruett of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and Miste Gardner-Karlfeldt of the anti-vaccine group Health Freedom Idaho were outside the police station with a bullhorn supporting their far-right activist friend. Social media was used to rally the angry mob.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation posted the name and photo of the Meridian officer who arrested Brady and without missing a beat, Bundy’s People’s Rights group activated their network. That night, another angry mob showed up with Bundy outside the officer’s home, terrorizing his family and presenting officers there guarding the house a list of “grievances”.37
During a SWDH scheduled meeting to discuss an area mask mandate, Ammon Bundy and his armed followers showed up at the SWDH building, physically shoving an SWDH employee and forcing their way into a public building that required temperature checks and masks. His clan refused to follow the rules and the meeting attendees were forced to cancel for legitimate personal safety reasons. Local police were called in to mitigate the rapidly escalating situation.38
Sean Anderson, an “area assistant” of the People’s Rights group with close ties to Bundy and a member of the Idaho 3% Militia led police on a high-speed pursuit which ended with him firing a shotgun towards a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy. He was shot in the face by police and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer. Bundy and his People’s Rights group came to his defense claiming the police tried to execute Anderson.39
Bundy has led anti-mask protests throughout the state and used his organization to publish false information designed to make the Governor of Idaho a target for far-right activists.
In August the Governor called for a special legislative session and the People’s Rights group showed up in force at the Idaho State Capitol to enforce their ideology.
People’s Rights created content that was spread by Health Freedom Idaho its network of far-right legislators claiming that the Governor of Idaho was going to take away their voting rights, steal their children, suspend religious liberty, force COVID-19 vaccinations and grant himself immunity from lawsuits their sister organizations might try to file against Governor Little.40 These claims have been debunked.41
Whipped into a frenzy by fake news and false information, Bundy and his followers stormed the capitol, shoved ISP officers and busted a glass door.42 They disrupted the special legislative session which led to Bundy’s eventual arrests. He now has a one-year ban from the Idaho State Capitol because the Speaker of the House and Senate Pro Tempore had enough of his antics.43
Idaho is bracing for more political violence as his group continues to harass legislators and demand action based on intentionally misleading information. His group is just warming up and legislators are terrified of what the regular session will be like come January.
Did the Caldwell football game get cancelled because of a domestic terror threat?
When Ammon Bundy showed up at the Caldwell High School football game mask-less, he was ready to make a scene. He activated his People’s Rights group with the livestream of his anti-mask protest.
The high school football game was not canceled because of Ammon Bundy’s anti-mask protest. It was canceled because one or more calls were made threatening violence over the enforcement of the mask requirement on school property. The Canyon County dispatch confirmed the calls.1 Who made the threats? Did they come from Bundy’s network?
When someone who has been at the center of several major domestic terror events is creating a situation at a public high school where calls threatening violence occur, the Caldwell administrators were justified in making the decision to cancel the game and get everyone to safety. Nobody should ever have to negotiate with domestic terrorists.
Ammon Bundy has a well-documented history of people in his circle getting killed or inspiring others to kill.
Parents and students’ lives are not his to endanger in his quest to fight the imaginary giants of tyranny at a local high school football game.
For what it’s worth, Bundy has faced down some serious players. He has stared down the barrels of federal agent’s rifles. He has challenged the US Government in court. He has occupied government land. He has bullied the Idaho State Legislature.
The infamous Ammon Bundy may have finally met his match by infuriating high school football parents with his belligerent delusions.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and do not represent any company, group, or organization. I’ve done my best to fact check and cite sources for everything I’ve written in this article.
- 1.Foy N. Idaho high school football game stopped at halftime after dispute involving Ammon Bundy. https://www.eastidahonews.com/. Published October 3, 2020. https://www.eastidahonews.com/2020/10/idaho-high-school-football-game-stopped-at-halftime-after-dispute-involving-ammon-bundy/
- 2.LYCKLAMA M. High school football is back (sort of). It’s up to the adults to keep it that way. https://www.idahostatesman.com/. https://www.idahostatesman.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article245301395.html
- 3.Martinez T. High school football in Idaho is halted because of mask dispute involving protestor Ammon Bundy. The Columbian Blogs. https://blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports/2020/10/03/high-school-football-in-idaho-is-halted-because-of-mask-dispute-involving-protestor-ammon-bundy/
- 4.Bundy A. Ammon Bundy Facebook Video. Facebook. Published October 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/bundyranch/videos/334557974285229
- 5.East Idaho News Facebook Post. Facebook. Published October 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/EastIdahoNews/posts/1755754197907646
- 6.Zarkhin F. Three Malheur refuge occupiers claim to be on terrorist watchlist; evidence suggests it’s true. The Oregonian. Published November 26, 2016. https://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2016/11/three_malheur_refuge_occupiers_claim_to_be_on_terrorist_watchlist_evidence_suggests_its_true.html
- 7.Ammon Bundy Launches New Antigovernment Organization That Takes on Coronavirus Restrictions. SPLC HATEWATCH. Published September 25, 2020. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/09/25/ammon-bundy-launches-new-antigovernment-organization-takes-coronavirus-restrictions
- 8.Anglen R. Ammon Bundy’s new anti-government standoff: Mask mandates and quarantines. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2020/08/27/ammon-bundy-idaho-anti-government-activist-fighting-covid-19-mask-mandates/5637648002/. Published August 27, 2020. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2020/08/27/ammon-bundy-idaho-anti-government-activist-fighting-covid-19-mask-mandates/5637648002/
- 9.Childress S. The Battle Over Bunkerville. PBS Frontline. Published May 16, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-battle-over-bunkerville/
- 10.Siegler K. 4 Ways Far-Right Groups Are Winning The Social Media Battle. NPR. Published July 31, 2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/07/31/539835566/4-ways-far-right-groups-are-winning-the-pr-battle-with-social-media
- 11.Flynn Mi. Interview with sniper in Bundy Standoff. YoiTube. Published April 12, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhNFqaLioD4
- 12.Camden J. Rep. Matt Shea travels to Nevada to support defiant rancher. The Spokesman Review. Published April 17, 2014. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/apr/17/rep-matt-shea-travels-to-nevada-to-support/
- 13.Haas R. Nuclear Weapons, Waco And The Radicalization Of Cliven Bundy. OPB. Published May 15, 2018. https://www.opb.org/news/article/bundyville-podcast-episode-2-cliven-bundy-radical-waco-cold-war/
- 14.Zaffos J. The Bundy bust-up. HIgh Country News. Published March 8, 2016. https://www.hcn.org/articles/Bundy-bust-up-cliven-ammon-malheur-sagebrush-rebellion-payne-santilli
- 15.Sottile L. Two Minutes Past Nine Podcast. BBC Radio 4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mqp1
- 16.Potok M. A radical and growing organization of ‘constitutional sheriffs’ is promoting defiance of federal laws it doesn’t like. SPLC. Published June 13, 2016. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2016/line-sand
- 17.A look inside the lives of shooters Jerad Miller, Amanda Miller. Las Vegas Sun. Published June 9, 2014. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2014/jun/09/look/
- 18.Bever L. Las Vegas cop killers packed ammo and wore adult diapers as they prepared for their ‘revolution.’ Washington Post. Published June 24, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/24/las-vegas-cop-killers-packed-ammo-and-wore-adult-diapers-as-they-prepared-for-their-revolution/
- 19.Aaronson T. HOW THE GOVERNMENT BOTCHED THE CASE AGAINST CLIVEN BUNDY. The Intercept. Published December 22, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/12/22/cliven-bundy-case-ranch-standoff-fbi/
- 20.Shepherd K. A GOP state legislator helped plan an armed occupation in Oregon, investigators say, calling it ‘domestic terrorism.’ The Washington Post. Published December 20, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/12/20/gop-legislator-matt-shea-coordinated-anti-government-land-occupation-oregon/
- 21.Post Occupation Information. US Fish & Wildlife Service. https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147587683
- 22.Levin S. New photos of Oregon wildlife refuge reveal damage done by Bundy standoff. The Guardian. Published March 24, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/24/oregon-wildlife-refuge-damage-photos-militia-standoff
- 23.Eastern Oregon Ranchers Convicted of Arson Resentenced to Five Years in Prison. US Department of Justice. Published October 7, 2015. https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/eastern-oregon-ranchers-convicted-arson-resentenced-five-years-prison
- 24.McKay H. Rancher family reports to prison, does not endorse Oregon siege. Fox News. Published January 4, 2016. https://www.foxnews.com/us/rancher-family-reports-to-prison-does-not-endorse-oregon-siege
- 25.Oregon standoff timeline: 41 days of the Malheur refuge occupation and the aftermath. The Oregonian . Published February 14, 2017. https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2017/02/oregon_standoff_timeline_41_da.html
- 26.Sottile L. Season 2 Of “Bundyville” Looks At The Ecosystem Of Anti-Government Extremism. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/07/15/741967310/season-2-of-bundyville-looks-at-the-ecosystem-of-anti-government-extremism
- 27.Sottile L. BundyVille: The Remnant -Chapter Three: The Widow’s Tale. Longreads. Published July 1, 2019. https://longreads.com/2019/07/17/bundyville-the-remnant-chapter-three-the-widows-tale/
- 28.Oregon refuge video shows chaos, anger among occupiers after leaders’ arrests. YouTube – The Oregonian . Published December 7, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnFTNR7zPRM
- 29.Leodler K. Report of Investigation Regarding Representative Matt Shea. crosscut.com. Published December 1, 2019. https://crosscut.com/sites/default/files/files/wa_house_report_shea.pdf
- 30.Baker M. G.O.P. Lawmaker Had Visions of a Christian Alternative Government. New York Times. Published December 23, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/us/matt-shea-washington-extremism.html
- 31.Sokol C. Leaked emails show Washington state Rep. Matt Shea endorsed training children to fight in holy war. The Seattle Times. Published August 15, 2019. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-state-rep-matt-shea-endorsed-training-children-to-fight-in-holy-war/
- 32.Geranios N. Report: Lawmaker associated with Bundys took part in ‘domestic terrorism.’ Las Vegas Review Journal. Published December 20, 2019. https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nation-and-world/report-lawmaker-associated-with-bundys-took-part-in-domestic-terrorism-1918461/
- 33.Domestic Terrorism Focus on Militia Extremism. FBI. https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/domestic-terrorism-focus-on-militia-extremism
- 34.Two Defendants In Bunkerville Standoff Case Plead Guilty To Obstruction Of Court Order. US DOJ. Published October 23, 2017. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nv/pr/two-defendants-bunkerville-standoff-case-plead-guilty-obstruction-court-order
- 35.Sowell J. Former head of Idaho patriot group pleads not guilty to stealing from property owners. Idaho Statesman. Published June 7, 1028. https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/crime/article198719069.html
- 36.Dawson J. Woman Arrested After Moms Stage “Playdate Protest” Over Idaho Stay At Home Order. Boise State Public Radio. Published April 21, 2020. https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/woman-arrested-after-moms-stage-playdate-protest-over-idaho-stay-home-order#stream/0
- 37.Terhune K. Ammon Bundy publishes address, stages protest at home of Meridian officer behind playground arrest. KTVB. Published April 24, 2020. https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/local/ammon-bundy-meridian-police-officer-home-protest-sara-brady-arrest-idaho/277-ec401186-0c8c-4d9f-aaa8-780345300c13
- 38.Terhune K. SWDH meeting on mask mandate canceled after Ammon Bundy, protesters force way into building. KTVB. Published July 16, 2020. https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/mask-mandate-protest-southwest-district-health-meeting-idaho-covid-19/277-a93a083e-80ea-4e85-960d-e07add71562e
- 39.Tanner C. AMMON BUNDY AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS MOBILIZE FOLLOWING ARREST OF IDAHO-BASED ALLY. IREHR. Published July 31, 2020. https://www.irehr.org/2020/07/31/ammon-bundy-and-peoples-rights-mobilize-following-arrest-of-idaho-based-ally/
- 40.Rights Suspended Under Martial Law and Active Duty Chapter of Idaho Code. Health Freedom Idaho. https://healthfreedomidaho.org/martial-law-rights-suspended/
- 41.Myers B. Illegitimacy of a June 23 Special Session of the Legislature. Holland & Hart. https://www.freedomman.org/pdf/Bill-Myers-Opinion.pdf
- 42.Spectators shatter glass door to get into lawmakers’ session. Idaho State Journal. https://www.idahostatejournal.com/news/local/spectators-shatter-glass-door-to-get-into-lawmakers-session/article_43f84175-a459-5f1c-ba3b-2954bc8f72ad.html
- 43.Brown R. Ammon Bundy removed from Idaho Capitol twice in less than 24 hours. He’s banned for a year. East Idaho News. https://www.eastidahonews.com/2020/08/ammon-bundy-removed-from-idaho-capitol-twice-in-less-than-24-hours-hes-banned-for-a-year/