Militia Leader Ammon Bundy Quits 'Patriot Movement' After Criticizing Trump's Rhetoric on Immigrants

Ammon Bundy amassed hundreds of supporters after he and his family led standoffs against the United States government. However, Bundy saw that support wean after he criticized President Donald Trump, prompting him to quit the "patriot movement." 

Bundy garnered national attention in 2014 when his father, Cliven, led a standoff against the Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. He then became the leader of another militia movement in 2016, during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Bundy, a central figure in the anti-government militia movement, recently criticized Trump’s rhetoric toward the migrant caravan at America’s southern border. Following the sharing of his opinions, which surprised his supporters, Bundy told BuzzFeed News that he was the instant target of a major backlash. Some wished he was dead, some wished they had never supported his family during the standoffs, and others claimed he was paid to switch political sides.

While Bundy expected to get some pushback, he thought he could explain to critics why he took the positions that he did. However, his speculation that people had  aligned with him for reasons other than his principles and weren’t really listening was confirmed by the backlash he received. 

"It's like being in a room full of people in here, trying to teach, and no one is listening," Bundy told BuzzFeed News. "The vast majority seemed to hang on to what seemed like hate, and fear, and almost warmongering, and I don't want to associate myself with warmongers."

On Tuesday, Bundy shut down his social media accounts and said he was stepping out of the public spotlight. After seeing the militia movement’s opposition to the migrant caravan and blind support for Trump, Bundy also decided to leave the “patriot movement” he was once seen as spearheading.  

ammon bundy Ammon Bundy, the leader of an anti-government militia, in front of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on January 6, 2016. On Thursday, Bundy told BuzzFeed News he was leaving the militia movement following backlash he received for criticizing President Donald Trump's rhetoric against the migrant caravan. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a video posted on Facebook, which has since been deleted, Bundy said Trump imparted a group stereotype on the caravan by calling them all criminals.

"But what about those who have come here for reasons of need?... What about the fathers, the mothers, the children, who have come here and are willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually by criminals?” Bundy asked.

He characterized comments criticizing the caravan as being “based upon selfishness” because of the thought that if they entered the country, someone would lose something. Bundy added that “it’s all fear-based,” and said that basing arguments, motives and actions on fear was a “very dangerous thing to do.”

Bundy wasn’t the only member of his family to criticize how Trump has handled the migrant caravan. On November 29, a day after his son posted on Facebook, Cliven told The Guardian that he still supported Trump but disagreed with his stance on his signature campaign promise to build a wall.

“I really question his doctrine ever since he started it about building a wall,” Cliven said. “I don’t like walls. I think we oughta be able to get along with neighbors … Trump’s wall never did sit very good with me.”

With regard to the migrant caravan, Cliven said it was hard to tell what the truth was. If the people coming were looking for refuge as Americans, Cliven said, others should have a heart and try to help. 

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