Introduction: American Patriot (02:47)
“Frontline” examines the movement and conflict that lead to the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2014. Ammon Bundy was imprisoned for leading the largest armed uprising against the federal government in a generation.
Conflict Roots (03:35)
In the fall of 2013, Bundy’s family lost a decades-long legal battle with the federal government after refusing to remove their cattle from public land near Bunkerville, Nevada. The family stopped paying grazing fees and owed $1 million to the government. (Credits)
Bunkerville Protest (05:05)
Other ranchers were frustrated with the federal government and rallied to the Bundy family cause. Video of feds treating protestors roughly went viral, and Carol Bundy called on armed militia groups from around the country to join the protest.
Volatile Situation (03:58)
The Bunkerville protest was becoming an uprising. Ammon Bundy and hundreds of protesters went to the lot where the government had impounded the family’s cattle. Law enforcement officers scrambled to hold them at bay. Steve Ellis ordered his agents to back down.
Protest Platform (03:26)
As the Bunkerville story entered the national spotlight, pundits appropriated the cause to support their larger message of a tyrannical federal government. An interview with Cliven Bundy making racist comments went viral, leading to Ammon becoming the family spokesman.
Call to Action (06:01)
Ammon learned of a family in eastern Oregon who had similar battles with the federal government and took to social media to promote their cause. Among the groups that responded was the Pacific Patriots Network, an alliance of militias in the Pacific Northwest.
Occupation Begins (05:48)
Ammon and the Pacific Patriots Network organized a rally for the Hammonds in Burns, Oregon. The march was supposed to end in a Safeway parking lot, but Ammon rallied armed followers to take a hard stand at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The FBI held back and waited.
List of Demands (03:17)
Occupiers demanded the FBI leave Harney County and that control of all federal lands in the county be turned over to citizens. The Pacific Patriots Network went out to the refuge to act as “a buffer.” Many locals were turning against the Bundys.
Tense Standoff (04:16)
The FBI learned that members of leadership would attend a meeting in John Day, Oregon and pulled them over in route. LaVoy Finnicum was fatally shot after refusing to follow commands and repeatedly reaching in his jacket.
Occupiers Await Trial (05:08)
Finicum became a martyr to his followers. Ammon and his supporters were charged with felonies and would stand trial. Bundy’s attorney, Marcus Mumford, developed a strategy to turn the conspiracy case on its head.
Verdict and New Charges (06:21)
Seven Malheur Refuge occupiers were found not guilty, but Ammon was later arrested on charges associated with the Bunkerville standoff. Undercover agents had gathered evidence at the Bundy ranch under the guise of shooting a documentary.
Anti-Government Sentiment (02:11)
As the Bundys awaited trial, protesters gathered outside the gates of the private prison in Nevada. The family had galvanized the Patriot Movement. The trial of four of the Bundys’ co-defendants ended in a mistrial.
Credits: American Patriot (01:02)
Credits: American Patriot
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