Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy was arrested for the second time in two days Wednesday as cops dragged him from the Idaho Statehouse for defying a year-long ban on entering the building.
Idaho State Police put Bundy, 44, in a wheelchair and removed him from the Senate gallery.
He did not appear injured but didn’t respond to questions as he was wheeled from the Statehouse and through underground tunnels to a police vehicle.
Authorities arrested Bundy just a day earlier for trespassing after he refused to leave a meeting room where a few hours earlier angry protesters forced out lawmakers.
After this arrest, a decision was made to prohibit him from coming to the Statehouse for one year, following consultation with Republican Governor Brad Little, as well as leaders in the House and Senate.
‘We have a certain expectation of members of the Senate that they act in a way that is courteous and act in a way that is productive, and I think it’s also proper to ask that of the public who participates as well,’ Republican Sen. Kelly Anthon said.
Lawmakers are meeting in a special session called by Little because of the coronavirus, and Wednesday resumed work after two chaotic days.
On Tuesday, Bundy was wheeled from a meeting room into an elevator in a chair he apparently refused to get out of at around 5pm and charged with trespassing and resisting and obstructing officers.
At least a dozen Idaho State Police were forced to form a shield between legislators and a crowd of more than 100 protesters after the room became disruptive.
The protest was organized in opposition to a proposed liability law intended to shield schools, businesses and government entities from lawsuits from people who get COVID-19.
Some lawmakers also oppose the legislation they say will remove accountability.
‘The Idaho people are more than capable of keeping themselves safe… We, the people, are tired,’ Bundy told lawmakers Monday. ‘We are tired of government force, and we will only take it for so long. I recommend you act wisely, because we will not live in fear.’
Lawmakers on a House committee on Wednesday approved the liability legislation, which will be taken up by the full House and, if approved, considered by the Senate.
Two others were arrested alongside Bundy after police cleared the room, and they also refused to follow police commands to leave.
They were named by Idaho News 6 as Aaron Von Schmidt, 42, and Jill Watts, 38. They are charged with trespassing.
Another person was taken into custody earlier in the same room where protesters shouted down lawmakers. He was named by the Idaho Press as 33-year-old Bryan Bowermaster.
The incident follows another on Monday when angry protesters forced their way into the Idaho House gallery that had limited seating because of the coronavirus pandemic. The window of a glass door getting shattered as protesters jostled with police.
Protesters were ultimately let in when Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke stepped in, seeking to avoid violence.
Lawmakers were meeting in a special session called by Republican Gov. Brad Little because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday’s unrest started when the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Greg Chaney, directed two people sitting in an area reserved for credentialed members of the media to leave those seats.
Press credentials are controlled by the Capitol Correspondents Association.
#IdahoNews6 #InsideTheStatehouse — Here’s footage of Ammon Bundy being arrested Tuesday afternoon. More context here: https://t.co/2RnZNRKiAj pic.twitter.com/PlNUky8v0l
‘I’m not sure precisely what their goal is, but I’m absolutely sure that the two individuals whom I asked to leave were intending to create a scene,’ he said.
‘At times in the last 24 to 36 hours, this building has descended into complete chaos, and the only way to make sure that all citizens feel comfortable coming here to be heard is to make sure that we don’t allow rule deviations in general.’
The committee considering that legislation left the meeting room as the Idaho State Police arrived to hold back the crowd.
Bundy, who led the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, took one of the credentialed media seats after lawmakers left the room.
He said police and lawmakers were itching to exert their authority after Monday’s incident.
He said he hadn’t instructed anyone to disrupt the meeting, and he challenged those who qualified as a credentialed member of the media.
‘What does credentialed mean? Who is the freedom of the press for? Those who have credentials? No, it’s not,’ he told The Associated Press.
‘The freedom of the press is a protection for the people. Your credentials are great, and I think you guys do a much better job at it than we do, but the fact is the government is not supposed to say this person has the freedom of the press and has a right to be in a certain place and these people don’t.’
Idaho News 6 reports that there were about 18 people left in the room after lawmakers left and all but three, including Bundy, left voluntarily.
The committee convened later in the day in a different room with heavy security and approved a public hearing for the liability legislation.
Meanwhile, another committee earlier in the day killed legislation intended to allow greater opportunity for in-person voting for the November 3 general election amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The House State Affairs Committee voted 10-5 to kill the legislation that was a primary reason Republican Gov. Brad Little called the part-time Legislature back for a special session.
The legislation would have allowed counties to create voting centers where residents from different precincts could vote.
Elections officials say they are facing a shortage of poll workers and potentially polling sites in November because of the pandemic.
‘This is the people’s house and it belongs to all Idahoans, including our constituents and future generations, who have put their trust in us to be here in this Special Session and conduct the people’s business,’ Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said in a statement following the incident.
‘The events that have taken place over the past couple of days are unacceptable. It is important to protect the rights of all to participate in the process, not simply those who are the most aggressive and have the loudest voices.
‘Unfortunately, a small group of individuals have disrupted what should be a deliberate and fair process. The end result has been chaotic and unproductive,’ he added.
All steps taken by the House of Representatives were done in an attempt to return to a normal process and create an efficient and effective Special Session, rather than wasting taxpayers time and dollars. It is our hope that moving forward we can do the work we came from all over Idaho to do without further distractions.’
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning quickly approved legislation to smooth the counting of what is expected to be a surge of absentee ballots for the November election. That bill has already been approved by the Senate and now heads to the governor.
Bundy is best known for his part in the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
He and his brother, Ryan Bundy, were eventually acquitted of federal weapons and conspiracy charges for their role in leading the occupation.
Bundy, his three brothers and father were also arrested in 2014 for an armed standoff with authorities at the family’s ranch in Nevada.
He has been a vocal opponent of restrictions and stay-at-home measures being imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In April, he led a protest outside the home of an Idaho cop who arrested a mother-of-four for defying stay-at-home orders when she was in a playground.