So, without further ado, here’s Ryan Bundy’s opening statement (H/T Gary Hunt)that was delivered to the jury in the Bundy Ranch trials on November 15, 2017. Read and remember.
Thanks to the jurors for being here. I told you a little about myself at voir dire, but I’d like to introduce myself a little more, and tell you about my heritage and how that affects my case. (Projects a picture of his family – AND leaves it up throughout his statement!) [Note: the picture shown above.]
This is my ID! Not my driver’s license. This is who I am, a man with a family and I’ll do whatever it takes to provide for them. I want you to picture in your minds…you’re out on the land… I’ll take you to our ranch, you can see all the beauty of the land, the fresh air, sunsets and sunrises, the brush, you’re on a horse in front of the cattle – place yourself there – feel the freedom – out of the congestion of the cars – that’s how I was raised, playing in the river, we were called river-rats and that is where my life began and I hope ends.
My family has been on that land 141 years, my pioneer ancestors settled there in 1877 – there was nothing there. They carved out a living… they brought a horse and wagon and some provisions… this case, the government mentioned is “not about rights”, but it is – those rights do mean something – rights are created through beneficial use. When my ancestors arrived, undoubtedly the horse would need a drink, so they led him to the water and that is beneficial use. The horse and perhaps a cow that had been led behind the wagon need to eat some brush in the hills, that is beneficial use. That established rights. The water rights are real! So real, the State of Nevada has a water rights registry including livestock watering rights. A law was created to protect those rights. The water rights that my father owns were first registered in 1891 by the State of Nevada – the State of Nevada is important, a sovereign state, its own unit, which entered the union in 1864. It entered equal to the original states, it is its own entity and state laws are important.