Ammon Bundy, a prominent far-right anti-government activist, was arrested on Friday after evading legal proceedings related to a defamation lawsuit for over a year.
Bundy’s family gained national attention in 2014 when they staged a confrontation with government forces, led by his father Cliven, over their refusal to pay grazing fees on federally-owned land. In 2016, Ammon Bundy himself spearheaded a standoff by occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, protesting against government-owned land.
In 2020, Bundy became deeply involved in opposing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and regulations, participating in multiple protests in Idaho and facing arrest on five occasions. His opposition to medical authorities ultimately led to his current predicament, as Idaho’s St. Luke’s Health System filed a defamation lawsuit against him. The lawsuit was prompted by Bundy’s false accusations that the hospital was involved in kidnapping the infant grandson of an associate, Diego Rodriguez.
The incident revolved around Rodriguez’s 10-month-old grandson, who was removed from his parents’ custody due to malnourishment concerns. Bundy and Rodriguez falsely accused St. Luke’s of kidnapping the infant and operating a “child trafficking ring subsidized by tax dollars,” according to the hospital. In March 2022, the hospital initiated legal action, alleging that Bundy had orchestrated a smear campaign against them and engaged in various forms of harassment.
Bundy has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has refused to respond to court summonses related to the lawsuit. Local law enforcement officials declined to enforce the court orders, citing concerns that Bundy and his associates might pose a threat to officers. They deemed it inappropriate to risk officer safety over a civil matter.
In July, Bundy was ruled against by default by a jury, resulting in an order for him to pay $26 million. This ruling was part of a larger $52 million judgment against Bundy and other defendants. Additionally, in April, a judge issued a contempt of court charge against Bundy for his failure to appear in court, as reported by local news station CBS2.
On Friday, Bundy was arrested for the contempt charge and was subsequently detained at Gem County Jail on a $10,000 bond. According to CBS2, he remained in custody as of Saturday morning.
Social media posts from Bundy’s associates indicated that he was apprehended while attending a fundraising banquet for his son’s football team at Emmet High School. A video shared on his official X account (formerly known as Twitter) depicted Bundy being escorted away in handcuffs while supporters expressed their disapproval. The post also urged Bundy’s followers to gather outside the Gem County Sheriff’s Office in protest.