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'I want to be left alone': Ammon Bundy says he will not initiate violence

Civility advocates raised concerns in a Friday teleconference that Ammon Bundy's pattern of behavior could create violence amid the St. Luke's lawsuit.

GEM COUNTY, Idaho — Western States Center (WSC) hosted a teleconference Friday with the Southern Poverty Law Center and retired Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney to discuss the 'threatening activities demonstrated by Ammon Bundy.'

St. Luke's Health System filed a civil lawsuit against Ammon Bundy in February from a days-long protest organized by Bundy outside St. Luke's in Boise over a baby taken by Child Protective Services (CPS). "Baby Cyrus" was removed from his parents after Health and Welfare determined he was malnourished and in imminent danger.

Bundy has harassed, intimidated, and defamed several members of its staff, the lawsuit said.

Bundy has not appeared in any court proceedings. KTVB previously reported Monday Judge Lynn Norton gave a default ruling in St. Luke's favor as result.

The WSC teleconference recounted Bundy's family history dating back to the Bunkerville, Nevada, standoff over unpaid cattle grazing fees and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

"Like many far-right leaders, Bundy uses victimhood framing, and claims his actions are in response to perceived injustice by the state, federal, or local government," WSC Momentum Program Director Stephen Piggott said.

Piggott talked extensively about the People's Rights Network (PRN), an organization launched by Bundy in 2020 to organize his followers and relay messages. PRN has 65,000 members, according to their website.

"PRN has quickly grown by tapping into fears around uncertainty around the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The group now boasts thousands of members in a number of states," Piggott said. "It relies on threats, intimidation, and political violence in order to achieve its goal of building power locally by sewing distrust in specific institutions."

Bundy has contacted his PRN support system throughout the month of April via text message announcing law enforcement on his property. Deputies have routinely served Bundy papers for some time now, he told KTVB during a Friday phone call.

Body camera footage from the Gem County Sheriff's Office dated April 24, 2023, shows Ammon Bundy yelling at two deputies after they knocked on his front door and wandered around the outside of an adjacent building on his property.

"They had been to my house many, many times before serving and there was never an issue. It was only until they went around my property and went into a building that upset me and caused me to ban them from my property," Bundy said. "They didn't have the right to snoop around my property, knocking on windows looking in windows and then going into one of buildings."

The body camera footage obtained by KTVB does not show any deputies going inside a building; deputies did look through windows and doorways, presumably, to find Bundy and serve him papers. Speakers at the WSC event discussed concerns about the possibility of Bundy - and his PRN followers - resorting to violence regarding the St. Luke's lawsuit.

"I think the real question is, is Bundy gonna try to push something? Because as time goes on, he realizes his supporters are getting bored of this and nothing is happening," Raney said. "Will he push something to create the confrontation?"

St. Luke's is not the victim in this lawsuit, according to Bundy. The Southern Poverty Law Center, for years, has worked to incite the government to carry out violence against Bundy and his family, he added.

"I want to be left alone," Bundy said. "I want them to leave other people alone and follow the law. Don't take babies that are loved and cared by their parents."

Raney concluded there is no need for urgency that would otherwise escalate tensions between Bundy and law enforcement.

"[Bundy] does need to answer to our justice system, he needs to go to court, he does need to be held accountable for his actions," Raney said. "But they need to, for the lack of a better term, sit back. Let things calm down. He will be held accountable. There is no other way out of this."

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