BOISE — Idaho State Police troopers arrested Ammon Bundy at the Idaho Capitol late Tuesday afternoon, after he sat for several hours at the press desk in the Lincoln Auditorium, surrounded by a handful of supporters, and refused to leave.
Two others who refused to leave the Lincoln Auditorium upon an order by the House speaker were also arrested: Aaron Von Schmidt, 42, of Coeur d’Alene, and Jill Watts, 38, of Nampa. All three face a charge of misdemeanor trespassing and were booked into the Ada County Jail, according to ISP; Bundy faces an additional misdemeanor charge of resisting and obstructing officers.
Another man, 33-year-old Bryan Bowermaster of Boise, was arrested in an earlier incident when he sat in the press area without media credentials; he was removed from the Capitol and cited with trespassing. He told the Idaho Press he was an independent journalist.
Bundy, known for leading the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, had led protesters who disrupted the special session of the Idaho Legislature for the past two days. He was in the auditorium for a committee hearing on a civil liability bill earlier in the day when two others were forcibly removed from the room after disrupting the proceedings.
When Bundy was arrested after 5 p.m., the hearing he had briefly attended was long over, and both the House and Senate had adjourned for the day. Bundy refused to stand, so troopers handcuffed him and rolled him out of the building still seated in an office chair, according to ISP.
At least 30 Boise Police cars blocked off the streets in front of the state Capitol prior to the arrest.
Two other people, a man and a woman, also were arrested. As the woman was placed in a police car, she said she was worried she wouldn’t be able to nurse her baby.
A small crowd shouted at police at the police officers who were leaving after Bundy’s arrest.
Around 4 p.m., Bundy told the Idaho Press he was upset about “citizen journalists,” one of them representing Health Freedom Idaho, being removed from the hearing earlier, and went and sat at the press desk himself in protest. “I’m going to sit right here,” he said.
Troopers were clearing the hearing room at the order of Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, according to ISP. All but three of the roughly 18 people in the auditorium voluntarily left the room.
On Monday, Bundy testified against proposed civil liability waiver legislation, telling the House Judiciary Committee, “The Idaho people are more than capable of keeping themselves safe. … We the people are tired. 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.”
On Monday morning, Bundy and his supporters burst into the House gallery, scuffling with police in the process and smashing the glass in a door from the Capitol rotunda to the gallery. They then filled the gallery in defiance of social distancing guidelines. No arrests were made Monday.
Idaho State Police troopers on Tuesday afternoon removed multiple people from a House Judiciary hearing as an unruly atmosphere persisted during the Idaho Legislature’s special session called to address coronavirus topics. Some people who were not credentialed media members sat in seats designated for press members only. Police escorted at least one, Bowermaster, from the room in handcuffs. He was released after he was cited.
In a video posted to Facebook — which runs for almost an hour — Bowermaster filmed himself asking elected officials why he wasn’t allowed to sit in the reserved seats, then expressing indignation when he was told he had to register for a press tag.
The room erupted into shouts of “Nuremberg” and “How dare you?” and “We were following orders” as Bowermaster was led out of the room in handcuffs.
Bowermaster declined an interview with the Idaho Press but did offer a quote.
“We must remember that the power of the people is the only prerequisite, the only origin of power, other than God.”
Bedke issued a statement Tuesday evening calling the events of the past two days “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,” he said. “Unfortunately, a small group of individuals have disrupted what should be a deliberate and fair process. The end result has been chaotic and unproductive. … It is our hope that moving forward we can do the work we came from all over Idaho to do without further distractions.”
By Idaho Press reporters Betsy Z. Russell, Tommy Simmons and Ryan Suppe.