Published Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 9:34 a.m.
Updated Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 3:13 p.m.
Jailed rancher Cliven Bundy refused to acknowledge federal authority and declined to enter a plea in a U.S. court to criminal charges that he that he led an armed standoff against federal agents two years ago.
Amid confusion about whether Bundy has a lawyer, a federal magistrate judge entered a not guilty plea today on Bundy's behalf and scheduled a detention hearing for March 17.
Arguments then will focus on whether the 69-year-old Bundy should remain in custody pending trial on 16 charges including conspiracy, assault and threatening a federal officer, obstruction and firearms offenses.
Convictions could get him life in prison.
Joel Hansen, an attorney who has represented property rights advocates in other cases around Nevada, served as Bundy's attorney.
But Hansen says that's temporary, and Bundy plans to get another trial lawyer.
Hansen, who referred to Bundy as a "political prisoner," said he's not sure if he'll represent him at the detention hearing.
Walking out of the courthouse with two bodyguards and two family members, Carol Bundy said only that her husband was "doing fine."
A teary-eyed daughter Stetsy Bundy, 23, said she was crying as she left the courtroom because she missed her father.
"It was sad to see my daddy that way," she said. "But he looks good, and he's doing good."
Before the hearing, dozens of demonstrators rallied in front of the federal courthouse to support Bundy.
A technology blackout was in effect inside the courtroom, as about 25 protesters remained outside the courthouse near the main entrance. Five Metro Police officers were also standing in the area.
A man driving past the courthouse in a minivan unleashed an expletive-laden tirade from his window, urging demonstrators to go home because Bundy "broke the law."
It was the loudest opposition of the day for the demonstrators, who have had an otherwise calm and peaceful afternoon. Two anti-Bundy protesters were holding signs earlier in the afternoon on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard, but there was no verbal confrontation between them and the Bundy supporters.
About half of some 100 protesters remain outside the courthouse while the other half have either gone inside or left.
Those who stayed outside said they'll be here through the end of Cliven Bundy's arraignment, scheduled for 2 p.m.
"This whole thing is aggravating," said Gordy Both, 49, who drove with his wife from Kingman, Ariz., to participate in the rally. "When you think of how much power the federal government has, it's scary."
Nevada Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton, who spoke to the crowd of nearly 100 people, said the Bundy family and demonstrators were standing for God-given rights of liberty and freedom.
"Little by little, it's being taken away," Shelton said. "If we don't stop and pay attention, we will lose our liberties."
Shelton said she believed God would decide the outcome of Cliven Bundy's court case.
"I think God is behind the Bundys. Whatever the will of God is, that's what the outcome is going to be."
The demonstration featured a concentration of members of the Guardians of the Oath movement, a radical, anti-government spin-off of the Oath Keeper movement, known for disobeying laws members don’t believe fall under the U.S. Constitution.
Also present at the rally were members of the Three Percenters group, a militant organization that pledges to uphold the U.S. Constitution using force, if necessary. The group’s name comes from an estimated 3 percent of the population that fought in the American Revolution.
“Obviously the second revolution is on the way,” said Bobby Florentz, 64, a self-proclaimed member of both movements.
Florentz, waving a sign urging passer us to “save the patriots from the oathbreakers,” said the federal government was illegally charging Cliven Bundy for trespassing on land it doesn’t actually own.
“Bottom line is it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to own land,” he said. “So how can they charge Cliven Bundy for being on their land?”
Waving the Gadsden flag, named after American Revolution Gen. Christopher Gasden and often associated with libertarian and tea party groups, self-proclaimed patriot Steve Adams, 36, of North Las Vegas said the federal government has gone too far in prosecuting “innocent patriots.”
“A rattlesnake doesn’t bother anyone unless you step on it,” Adams said, referring to the design on the flag, which features a coiled snake. “I think the government is starting to step too much on American ranchers.”
LeVoy Finnicum’s daughter Thara Tenney, 32, and her younger sister stood in front of the courthouse and with megaphones and sang an original song met by loud cheering. “Are you, are you, going to stand with me?,” they sang.
Finnicum was shot to death by authorities in January when a vehicle was stopped after leaving a wildlife refuge in Oregon taken over by armed protesters. Officials said authorities opened fire after he reached for a weapon.
Cliven Bundy’s wife, Carol Bundy, meanwhile, held a sign that said, “It’s Simple: The Land Belongs To The People.” She said her husband is being treated like he’s already been convicted and sentenced.
The government is treating him like a “mass murderer” when he’s only a father, a husband and a grandfather, she said. She expects today’s hearing will be “short and, I’m sure, sweet.”
“This isn’t a fight for the Bundys,” she said. “It’s a fight for we, the American people.”
11:08 a.m. — About an hour into the demonstration, Metro Lt. Reggie Rader said there have been no confrontations among law enforcement and the roughly 50 protesters on hand.
“It’s just a normal day; we have no issues with this. We’re just here to make sure everyone remains peaceful,” Rader said.
Rader, who was with four other Metro officers outside the federal courthouse, said protests happen frequently and a small police presence is standard for such events.
“Usually these folks are very peaceful and respectful,” he said.
Leonard Siebert showed up to support the Bundy family. “That was a great day for America,” he said of the day of the standoff, because patriots stood up to the Bureau of Land Management and the government.
Siebert, who said he is part of the Oath Keepers, a patriot group that vows to defend the Constitution, and the Three Percenters, a patriot group dedicated to protecting constitutional rights, said he anticipated a peaceful demonstration.
“We’re not here to riot. We’re not here to complain. We’re out here to voice as we can with the First Amendment.”
Brian Enright of Southern California arrived at the courthouse with his wife, daughter and their dog.
He carried an American flag and said he was here to support Bundy and the patriot movement. He said the federal government is “out of control” when it comes to “state matters.”
He said he is not a member of any movement.
Demonstrators carried anti-Bureau of Land Management signs and U.S. and Gadsden flags, but no guns were spotted. Law enforcement officials had anticipated demonstrators would openly carry guns.
The Gadsden flag, designed during the American revolution, depicts a rattlesnake and the words “Don’t tread of me.” It has been used more recently as a symbol of American patriotism and disagreement with the government.
Interactions between police ad protestors, meanwhile, appeared to be polite and friendly.
Randy Peck, 54, of Las Vegas held a sign reading, “BLM: Give Up Your Land, Give Up Your FREEDOM.”
He said he belongs to the patriot movement and is a Bundy supporter. He described Bundy as a “political prisoner.”
Peck said he came out to protest the overreach of the U.S. government and that he hopes Bundy is released.
Armed demonstrators expected for Cliven Bundy hearing
Demonstrators, some of them openly carrying guns, are expected outside the federal courthouse in Las Vegas today as Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy faces a hearing on charges related to a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents.
Bundy’s wife and other family members and friends said they want to show they’re keeping up their fight against the federal government.
“We’re a strong family and we stand together,” family matriarch Carol Bundy said. “I want the world to see that.”
Nevada allows the open-carrying of guns, and Metro Police and the U.S. Marshals Service said they expect some protesters will be armed but will remain peaceful.
“Our mission is to protect people’s right to peacefully assemble and protest,” Metro Officer Larry Hadfield said. “One’s position does not matter. We are happy to accommodate them.”
On April 12, 2014, an estimated 400 people engaged in an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management as authorities attempted to round up and impound Bundy’s cattle over nonpayment of grazing fees on public land. Authorities eventually backed down.
The dispute dates to 1993, and BLM officials estimated two years ago that Bundy owed more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
Bundy heads a list of 19 people — including four Bundy sons — accused of leading the standoff near his ranch in Bunkerville.
Bundy was arrested Feb. 10 in Oregon as he arrived at Portland International Airport to visit two sons jailed on charges that they led a 41-day armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge.
He faces 16 charges, including conspiracy, assault, obstruction and threatening a federal officer. Convictions could result in penalties up to life in prison.
While Bundy’s hearing isn’t set to begin until 2 p.m., the demonstration, organized via the Bundy ranch Facebook and Twitter accounts, is set for 10 a.m. outside the downtown Las Vegas courthouse at 333 Las Vegas Blvd.
The social media accounts said demonstrators planned on “filling the sidewalks” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. before “filling the courtroom.” The posts, first reported Monday, were deleted from the accounts as of Wednesday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.