Anti-government activist Bundy arrested at Idaho Statehouse

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy was arrested twice in two hours Thursday on suspicion of trespassing at the Idaho Statehouse. Police said he returned to the Capitol building shortly after bailing out of jail on the first arrest.

It wasn’t immediately known why Bundy was at the Statehouse.

It marked the fourth and fifth times the man known for leading a 2016 armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge has been arrested in Boise since August, with all but one occurring at the Statehouse.

Bundy has been banned from the government building since August after he and dozens of others — many of them members of his People’s Rights organization — staged a series of protests at the Statehouse over coronavirus-related measures.

In one of the protests, angry, unmasked protesters forced their way into a House gallery with limited seating, shattering a glass door in the process. The next day, more than 100 protesters shouted down and forced from the room lawmakers on a committee considering a bill to shield businesses and government agencies from coronavirus-related liability.

Bundy was arrested for trespassing when he wouldn’t leave the room and banned from the building for a year. He was arrested and charged with trespassing again the following day when he returned despite the ban.

Prosecutors eventually dropped some of the charges related to the August incident and the remaining trespassing charge is still moving forward in the court, with Bundy representing himself.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, telling the court he doesn’t believe his actions were illegal. Last month, Bundy was arrested on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court because he wouldn’t don a mask in order to enter the Ada County Courthouse, as required by the court rules. Last weekend, Bundy’s followers staged protests at the county courthouse and outside the judge’s house, decrying the case against him.

Video taken by an onlooker Thursday during Bundy’s first arrest at the Statehouse shows Idaho State Police officers lifting Bundy from a wheeled cart and placing him a police car. Bundy repeatedly asked the officers, “By what authority are you arresting me?”

Idaho State Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said officers used the wheeled cart because Bundy refused to leave the building under his own power. The cart, which looks somewhat like an oversized jogging stroller, was purchased in the last few months specifically so officers could safely transport uncooperative people during arrests, Hightower said.

When Bundy was arrested in August, troopers wheeled him out of the building on a rolling office chair.

Ada County Jail records show Bundy was booked then released on $300 bond. Less than two hours later, he was booked into jail again on charges of trespassing and resisting or obstructing officers, both misdemeanors, and later released on $600 bond.

Court records did not immediately show if Bundy has obtained an attorney for the latest case.

Bundy garnered international attention when in 2016 he led a group of armed activists in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the federal control of public lands. He was eventually arrested and later acquitted of all federal charges in that case.

In 2014, Bundy, several brothers and his father led an armed standoff in Nevada with Bureau of Land Management agents who attempted to confiscate his father’s cattle for grazing on public land without a permit. He spent almost two years in federal custody before the judge later declared a mistrial.