ST. GEORGE — Rancher Ammon Bundy, a freedom activist who led the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, expressed his support of the Black Lives Matter movement to defund police in a recent YouTube video posted toward the end of July.
In the video, Bundy said he had planned to attend a Black Lives Matter rally to support defunding the police near his home in Boise, but decided against going due to criticism of his stance and concerns of potential violence.
Bundy spoke directly to those in opposition to defunding the police in the video.
“You must have a problem in your mind if you believe that Black Lives Matter is more dangerous than the police,” he said. “You must have a problem if you think Antifa is the one going to take your freedom. You must be hypnotized by these social media code words or by conservative talk show hosts.”
He said these “code words” were in reference to different terminology used to control public perception, like with the negative associations attributed to defunding the police.
“No,” he said,” defunding the police is what we should do.”
There are many different ideas about what defunding the police means. One perception in particular is that defunding the police would strip away funds completely. But this isn’t quite the case. Defunding the police is about taking away a chunk of police funding and reallocating it by investing it back into the community, such as with social services or mental health agencies.
“Defunding the police is not removing them all; it’s just defunding them,” he said.
While public interest in defunding the police has gained traction in recent months following the death of George Floyd, Bundy told St. George News his stance on this matter dates back as far as 2014 when he called for the defunding of police at a press conference with the Bureau of Land Management and their law enforcement team.
“You’ll see we were saying the same thing back then,” he said. “This is nothing new. The constitution is nothing new.”
Bundy said America has become a police state. He said it’s the police, or at least those giving orders to the police, and the police fulfilling those orders, that are and will continue to take away liberties unless the people stand up.
“It was the law enforcement who took my family to prison for two years and lied about almost everything, and it will be the law enforcement that strips this people of their unalienable rights,” he said. “We have tyranny on one end and anarchy on the other, but I am much more concerned about tyranny than I am anarchy. I can handle anarchy, but I don’t want to have to go against a standing army to try to defend my liberties.”
Bundy relates the police to “a huge authoritarian bureaucracy” that will be the ones to take away individual liberties because there is “no mechanism to hold them accountable,” he said.
“Constitutionally, there is only one individual who has the right to police the people, and that is a sheriff who is elected by the people and his or her deputies. We don’t need anything else.”
While he agreed that there has to be a process in place that works to suppress crime, he said the current status has just gone too far.
“We’ve gone way overboard where every agency in government thinks they can have their own army,” he said. “Now someone comes along as says, ‘Oh look, we made a law where you can’t step on that plant, and we now have our own law enforcement team that can enforce and actually arrest you and put you in jail and prosecute you for stepping on that plant.’ When none of that was ever designed that way.”
It’s up to people right now, he said, to decide what type of government America is going to move forward with.
“Are we going to go forward with a kingdom, where we have kings or lords that are issuing edicts? Or are we going to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people? That’s the people’s choice.”
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