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Ammon Bundy, 2 others arrested after refusing to leave Statehouse room

Bundy decided to stay in the auditorium after a committee had switched rooms and ISP troopers asked everyone to leave the room.

BOISE, Idaho — Ammon Bundy, a prominent anti-government activist, was taken into custody by Idaho State Police after they say he refused to leave an empty room at the Statehouse on Tuesday evening.

KTVB's Joe Parris was at the Idaho State Capitol Building all day Tuesday, covering the second day of the state legislature's special session on the state's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Parris saw Bundy sitting in a chair with multiple troopers surrounding him in the Lincoln Auditorium.

Bundy decided to stay in the auditorium after a committee had switched rooms and the room was empty. He told The Idaho Press's Ryan Suppe that "I'm just gonna sit here."

Officials with ISP said that the room was emptied by the orders of Speaker of the House of Representatives Scott Bedke. About 18 people lingered in the Lincoln Auditorium when troopers began clearing the room. All but three people, including Bundy, left the room.

ISP troopers then took the three people into custody and handcuffed Bundy to the swivel chair that he refused to get out of.

Bundy and the two others - later identified as 42-year-old Aaron Von Schmidt of Coeur d'Alene and 38-year-old Jill Watts of Nampa - were booked into the Ada County Jail and charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

Credit: Ada County Jail
Booking photo of Ammon Bundy.

This is the second arrest that Idaho State Troopers made on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, a 33-year-old Boise man was taken into custody and cited for trespassing after he refused to move out of a designated seating area during a House Judiciary Rules and Administration Committee meeting.

The altercations came after a chaotic start to the special session on Monday, when protesters forced their way into the House gallery, shattering a glass door in the process.

Tuesday night, House Speaker Scott Bedke released the following statement excoriating those who disrupted the special session:

"This is the people's house and it belongs to all Idahoans, including our constituents and future generations, who have put their trust in us to be here in the Special Session and conduct the people's business.

The events that have taken place over the past couple of days are unacceptable. It is important to protect the rights of all to participate in the process, not simply those who are the most aggressive and have the loudest voices.

Unfortunately, a small group of individuals have disrupted what should be a deliberate and fair process. The end result has been chaotic and unproductive.

All steps taken by the House of Representatives were done in an attempt to return to a normal process and create an efficient and effective Special Session, rather than wasting taxpayer time and dollars.

It is our hope that moving forward we can do the work we came from all over Idaho to do without further distractions." 

The Ada County Sheriff's Office confirmed Wednesday that Bundy had been released from jail after posting bond Tuesday night. His initial appearance will be set sometime in the next two weeks.

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