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Ammon Bundy isn’t nearly as popular with conservatives as you might think. The leader of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge armed takeover in Oregon, who was arrested on Tuesday after a shootout with authorities, is trying to raise money for his bail on attorney fees via an online fundraiser.
In the two days since the Ammon Bundy crowdfunding page launched on FundedJustice, a crowdfunding site for the kinds of legal cases typically banned on other platforms like GoFundMe, only $2,192 has been raised toward the $100,000 goal. Most of the donors chose to remain anonymous.
The fundraiser was created by Arnold Law, a Eugene, Oregon-based firm that is representing Bundy and periodically releasing his statements. The attorneys released one such statement on Thursday, in which Bundy called for occupiers at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge to “turn yourselves in.”
The world is listening. We will use the criminal discovery process to obtain information and government records. We will continue to educate the American people of the injustices that are taking place. We can do this through an Article 3 Court in front of an Article 3 judge. This is the Constitution. And it is ours to use and we will use it.
In Thursday’s statement, Bundy insisted that his occupation had been peaceful and that the group the Internet dubbed “Y’all Qaeda” had been arrested while traveling to nearby Grant County to conduct a workshop, complete with “computers, PA systems, and projectors.” He also mourned the death of his comrade Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, shot by Oregon State Police during the raid on Malheur. Video of Finicum’s shooting was released to the public by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
We only had guns for our protection and never once pointed them at another individual or had any desire to do so. The people have a right to bear arms for their own protection. We never wanted bloodshed. We verbalized this many, many times and we continue to do so.
I mourn Lavoy’s death. Lavoy was a man who put other’s needs and safety before his own. After we were arrested, the FBI agents that transported us said that Lavoy’s shooting would have been recorded on video. We are anxiously waiting to review this video. Questions must be answered.
Bundy is one of eight Oregon militants (one of whom is his brother Ryan Bundy) being charged with felonious “conspiracy to impede or injure an officer through the use of force, intimidation or threats,” which carries a maximum six-year sentence and hefty fines. According to the Oregonian, the felony is typically used against environmentalists and anti-war protesters.
On the FundedJustice page, Arnold Law encouraged donors to seek out bail funds for the other seven defendants as well.
“In ‘conspiracy’ cases with multiple co-defendants, attorneys can only represent one client,” reads the FundedJustice profile. “Everyone needs their own lawyer for their own protection. Please feel free not to contribute to Ammon and instead contribute to another defendant. Your generosity is appreciated.”
The Daily Dot did not find any legal fundraisers for the seven other Oregon militants, but some of them would not likely succeed in crowdfunding anyway. In June 2015, one of the Malheur occupiers—John Ritzheimer—tried to raise $10 million to “protect his family” after his armed intimidation of a Phoenix mosque made him unpopular in the public eye. GoFundMe shut Ritzheimer’s profile down within 24 hours.
Illustration via Max Fleishman
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.