The lawyers representing Ammon Bundy reiterated the call from Bundy — who was arrested Tuesday — for the remaining occupiers to leave the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon at a press conference Thursday.
The attorneys promised those still at the Oregon refuge center that they can use the courts and the political system for “phase 2” of their movement.
“Phase 1 of this protest needs to come to an end,” Bundy’s attorney Michael Arnold said.
“Phase 2 has begun. Phase 2 is exercising our due process rights, our right to counsel, our right to use the power of process to get answers to questions that have been unanswered for years,” Arnold continued. “The people who are remaining at the refuge need to remember, with phase 2, with a peaceful end to this peaceful citizen protest, you will have new powers of influence.”
Bundy, who was viewed as the leader of the occupation, and his wife had both previously issued statements asking for the handful of militia men still at the refuge to leave, though some have stay put and one still there said Wednesday he was willing to die.
Thursday, at the press conference, attorney Lissa Casey read a lengthier statement from Bundy expanding on his request that they leave.
“My message still remains: Turn yourself in. Do not use physical force. Use the national platform that we have to continue to defend liberty through our constitutional rights and in Article III court with an Article III judge,” the statement said.
Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government, and anti-government extremists on the right who believe the government has come loose from its constitutional moorings sometimes contend the federal courts lack jurisdiction over them. At one point, the occupiers had been floating setting up an alternative court system to put local officials on “trial.”
Thursday’s statement promised that through the traditional court system, the occupiers would gain access to information and government records that would educate the American people. Bundy’s statement also claimed that the heavily-armed effort was never intended to turn violent.
“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,” the statement said.
One of the militia men, LaVoy Finicum, died in the shootout Tuesday that led to Bundy’s and his colleagues’ arrest. Bundy said through his lawyer’s statement that FBI agents had told him Finicum’s shooting had been recorded on video.
“We are anxiously awaiting to review this video. Questions must be answered,” the statement said.
Even as they called for the remaining occupiers to leave, Bundy’s lawyers defended the initial take-over.
“Phase 1 was working fine. Phase 1 was moving along, they were educating. ” Arnold said. “Phase 1 came to an abrupt end for Ammon and the others that were arrested. Phase 1 needs to come to an end for everyone.”