As It Happens

Cliven Bundy says FBI 'assassinated' Oregon militia man, then he hangs up on us

Cliven Bundy is urging the four remaining militia members occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to stand their ground.
Rancher Cliven Bundy stands along the road near his ranch after speaking with media Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Bunkerville, Nev. Cliven Bundy and his wife Carol Bundy were returning from a trip to visit the family of LaVoy Finicum, who died Tuesday after law enforcement officers initiated a traffic stop near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It's unclear what happened in the moments before his death. This still frame from the FBI video appears to show Finicum, centre, reaching towards his pocket before authorities open fire. (John Locher/FBI/AP)

Four militia members remain holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and they're showing no sign of coming out. Meanwhile, the original leaders of the occupation — brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy — are in a local county jail

This is a very different outcome than the last time the family engaged in an armed standoff with the federal government, back in 2014. Along with their father, Cliven Bundy, they blocked off a highway and pointed guns at federal rangers. Yet no charges were ever filed.

Cliven Bundy still lives on his ranch, in Bunkerville, Nevada where that standoff took place and unlike his sons, he's encouraging those still occupying the refuge to stay on and "hold down the fort."

"We're not going to give up those guy's lives," Cliven Bundy tells As It Happens host Carol Off.  "We're not going to give up the fight for freedom and state sovereignty either."

After speaking with members of the remaining militia Bundy put out a notice to the sheriff to "neutralize" the situation.

Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum carries his rifle after standing guard all night at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, near Burns, Ore. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

"With a lot of thought and prayer and trying to figure out what needed to be done, the question was should we retain the control or give up and get those guys out of there the best way we can?" Bundy explains.

"My final decision was 'Hey, we need to retain that resource center,' and so I put the notice out to the sheriff that that's what he should do — is he should neutralize the area there and get rid of the feds and get rid of the state police."

Bundy claims that with an increased police presence, the remaining four militia members lives are in danger. He says video released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows the government "murdered" militia spokesperson Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. 

This photo taken from an FBI video shows Robert "LaVoy" Finicum before he was fatally shot by police Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 near Burns, Ore. A video released Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 by the FBI of the shooting death of a spokesman for the armed occupiers of a wildlife refuge shows the man reaching into his jacket before he fell into the snow. The FBI said the man had a gun in his pocket. (FBI/AP)

"You know we got a bunch of people that just murdered a man — cold blooded — and they tried to murder those other people in that car," Bundy insists. "They tried to make sure there's no witnesses left there so there's no doubt their intent."

The video in question shows the FBI and Oregon State Police in pursuit of Finicum after he tried to elude arrest at a traffic-stop. FBI agents argue that the video shows Finicum reaching for his pocket, where he held a loaded 9-millimetre semi-automatic handgun, moments before he is fatally shot. 

Here is the video released by the FBI and a warning, the footage contains graphic images.

Eight other militia members were arrested at the road block without incident. When asked why he thinks the remaining occupiers are at a higher risk, Bundy abruptly ends the conversation.

"Ya know if that's all you want to question me on I can hang up right now," Bundy argues. "I'll guarantee you that man was assassinated and that their intent was to kill all the rest of them in that car and there's no doubt about that."

At this point in the conversation, Bundy hung up.

"To call it an assassination is absolutely 100 per cent not correct," John Sepulvado tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "It's clear that the distance between what the video shows and what people are saying is quite large."

Sepulvado is a reporter with Oregon Public Broadcasting. He's followed this story extensively and offers a different account of what happens in the video. 

John Sepulvado is a reporter with Oregon Public Broadcasting. He dismisses Cliven Bundy's claim that released FBI aerial video shows the government "murdered" militia spokesperson, LaVoy Finicum.


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