The Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Wilderness Association, National Wildlife Federation are releasing the following statement and call to action today.
The rule of law and access to our public lands are integral to how Montanans live, work, and play together as good neighbors.
This weekend, a group of extremists, including Cliven Bundy, are gathering in our backyard to advocate violating both of these core Montana principles.
Cliven Bundy and his colleagues have a record of breaking the law, not taking responsibility for their actions, and not being held responsible. Even though a mistrial was declared against Mr. Bundy for his armed 2014 standoff, he still has a 20+ year record of illegally trespassing on America’s public lands and refusing to comply with court orders to halt his behavior.
Mr. Bundy defends his illegal behavior by proclaiming, “I don’t recognize the U.S. government as even existing” and calling the United States a “foreign government.” He has publicly declared, “I abide by almost zero federal laws,” which is borne out by his repeated refusal to comply with legal court orders. He holds many other radical views, including the idea that slavery was good for African-Americans.
Mr. Bundy will be joined by several other other anti-government extremists, including Roger Roots. Roots has a long history with white nationalism and advocates radical concepts like “jury nullification,” an eccentric and dangerous theory that juries can ignore the law.
Most troubling, at least one Montana lawmaker has indicated that she intends to attend this event: State Senator Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls). Senator Fielder is well-known as an extremist within her own party, but standing alongside someone who ignores the law and rejects the American judicial system and the very existence of the federal government is beyond the pale.
The stakes are high in Sanders County. In addition to this weekend’s gathering of extremists, one Bundy militia member found guilty in Oregon is a Plains, Montana, resident. He is due for sentencing on the 24th. Montana lawmakers and law enforcement officials have a duty to protect and uphold the rule of law, not entertain extremists.
We are asking reasonable Montanans to stay away from the Bundy meeting and not fuel the conflict. Instead of playing who has a bigger gun with these extremists, we are asking people to support the law and public lands by taking three actions:
- Contact State Senator Jennifer Fielder and ask her to state her position on the multiple legal rulings against Mr. Bundy and if she believes he should be required to comply with court orders or not.
- Contact Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel, and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, and ask them to support the peaceful rule of law and hold lawbreakers accountable.
- Add your name to a statement of support for the rule of law and public access to public land HERE.