Ammon Bundy told a federal judge he would not return to the Malheur Refuge saying: "my only desire is to be home with family and take care of my wife and children."
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The armed men who took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Bend, Oregon, are singing a different tune now that they are behind bars.
During the occupation, the militants frequently used social media to threaten and intimidate. They warned they would stay for years if necessary, and would use their guns if law enforcement tried to arrest them. They said they were willing to fight to the death.
Now that they've been captured, they say that was all a misunderstanding.
Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan, and several of the other Malheur occupiers appeared in court yesterday, pleading for bail while they await their trial on felony charges stemming from the occupation. Ammon Bundy told the judge he had no desire to go back to the Malheur Refuge, and promised if she granted him bail he would head home.
"My only desire is to be home with family and take care of my wife and children," said a subdued Bundy.
Lissa Casey, lawyer for Mr. Bundy, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman, that her client never meant to hurt or threaten anyone, and was just trying to "educate" people to the unjust practices of the federal government.
"He is done in Harney County; Ms. Casey told the judge, "his message has been sent."
The prosecutors countered with a list of YouTube videos and Facebook posts showing the Bundy brothers and their cohorts in a very different light.
"As the armed group's unrepentant leader, he (Ammon Bundy) has consistently and publicly expressed support for an armed occupation that has endangered, and continues to endanger, many people," the court brief states.
Prosecutors then directed the court's attention to a video in which Bundy called on people to "come out here and stand," telling them, "We need you to bring your arms."
After reviewing the lengthy list of the occupiers' boasts and threats, Judge Beckerman denied all the men bail, saying they pose a danger to the community, and that she is concerned they would not obey the court's order to return to Oregon for criminal proceedings. The judge told the only woman arrested, Shawna Cox, that she will be allowed to go home while her case is pending, but she will remain in jail release until after the armed occupation ends.
Since his arrest, Ammon Bundy has publicly called for the end of the Malheur occupation:
“This was never meant to be an armed standoff,” Ammon Bundy said in the newly released video. “Please do not make it about something it wasn’t supposed to be. Go home to your families.”
Bundy's wife Lisa admitted they hoped ending the occupation would influence the court to look more favorably on setting bail.
Four occupiers remain inside the Malheur Refuge: David Fry, Jeff Banta, and husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson. Fry is said to have asked FBI agents for safe passage from Malheur, but the FBI refused, saying it was too late. They were going to be arrested.
Photos are mugshots from the Multnomah and Maricopa County Sheriffs via Twitter