By JEFF GERMAN and WESLEY JUHL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Cliven Bundy refused to enter a plea in federal court Thursday to criminal charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement near his Bunkerville ranch.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman entered a not-guilty plea to all of the charges.
This is a breaking news update. The original story continues below.
More than 100 demonstrators, some carrying American flags, gathered outside the federal courthouse Thursday in support of jailed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
Earlier Las Vegas police swept the grounds with a bomb-sniffing dog.
Most of the demonstrators stood on the steps of the courthouse, as a handful of ranking Las Vegas police and U.S. marshals stood by to keep the peace. Other protesters gathered at a designated area north of the steps.
Among those on hand was Bundy’s wife, Carol.
“I think it’s time the American people realize … They’re treating us (Nevada) as though we’re a territory,” she said. “I challenge the government’s jurisdiction to even have a case against my husband.”
She said she was concerned about her husband’s treatment in federal custody. He’s being held without bail in an isolation cell at the Henderson Detention Center, she said.
“This is his first offense, no priors. He should be able to go home,” Carol Bundy said. “They give that to everybody else. He’s an honest, upstanding man. He wouldn’t run and hide.”
Demonstrators didn’t bring the long guns to the rally that many expected they would, but they carried flags and handmade signs.
One woman carried a yellow Gadsden flag displaying a coiled snake and the slogan “Don’t tread on Me.” Another man held a large sign, that read “Save the Patriots from the Oathbreakers.”
Other small signs were laid against concrete barriers at the bottom of the courthouse steps facing busy Las Vegas Boulevard downtown.
One sign read “release the political prisoners.” Another said “release Cliven Bundy,” and still another read “pray for America.”
Bundy, 69, is to appear before a federal magistrate judge this afternoon to answer a string of criminal charges stemming from the April 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement near his ranch.
The defiant Bundy patriarch was brought to Las Vegas in February by U.S. marshals from Portland, Oregon, where he was taken into custody on his way to support an armed takeover led by two of his sons at a government wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon.
He faces 16 felony counts, including extortion, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer and using and carrying a firearm in a crime of violence.
Bundy and 18 others — including four of his sons, Ammon, Ryan, David and Melvyn — were charged in a new federal indictment in Las Vegas last week in connection with the April 12, 2014, Bunkerville showdown.
The confrontation aimed to force federal officials to abandon about 400 cattle they had rounded up under court orders, according to the indictment.
Many of the demonstrators outside the courthouse came from Southern Nevada, but others traveled from California and Utah to express their discontent with what they said was government overreach.
Brittney Beck, 26, the daughter of slain Oregon protester LaVoy Finicum, said she came from Utah to support the Bundy family “100 percent.”
Finicum was shot and killed by state police toward the end of the 41-day armed standoff at the Oregon wildlife refuge. Authorities said he resisted arrest and reached for a loaded handgun in his pocket.
“In January they murdered my father,” Beck said. “I think they’re still covering up a lot of things they did.”
She said she’s grateful that people have rallied to her cause.
“My dad was a cowboy,” Beck said. “He followed God in whatever he did. He loved this country.”
Brian Enright, 37, came out to support the Bundys for the first time with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. He said too many people don’t understand the Constitution.
“The United States needs to be limited in their power, according to the U.S. Constitution,” he said, brandishing a large American flag.
He said he has heard too many stories about ranchers losing their land.
“The were pushed to the brink,” he said. “The states need to have their rights back.”