American Militiaman Has to Stay in Nevada Jail

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — An Idaho man was correct when he said his participation in the April 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada was “life-changing.” A federal judge Tuesday said he has to stay in jail.
     O. Scott Drexler, of Challis, Idaho, asked to be released from federal detention, but U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro found “the weight of evidence is clear” and denied Drexler’s motion, finding that Drexler, 44, is a flight risk and a potential danger to his community.
     Navarro said the nature of the standoff, photo documentation of Drexler with guns and dressed in military garb, his subsequent support of efforts to interfere with BLM activities in Oregon, and his participation in “Operation Big Sky,” during which self-proclaimed “militia” members guarded the White Hope Mine against the federal government after its operating plan expired in 2014, indicate he does not recognize federal authority.
     Drexler’s conduct “belies claims of a peaceful protest” against a lawful court order during the 2014 standoff in Nevada and later while advocating against cooperating with a federal court order in Oregon, Navarro said.
     She said Drexler also joined the “3% of Idaho” group, which claims: “We stand for freedom, liberty, and the Constitution” and “will combat all those who are corrupt.”
     Drexler’s attorney, Craig Drummond of Las Vegas, said Drexler merely looked through a rifle scope and at no time made any threats against BLM staff or other law enforcement while at the Bundy Ranch near Bunkerville.
     “We’re still trying to figure out who’s threatened by this,” Drummond said.
     Drummond said Drexler went to the Bundy Ranch because he thought the federal government was stealing Bundy’s property. He was among the armed Bundy supporters who took up a position on an Interstate 15 bridge during the standoff.
     Drummond said Drexler recognizes the federal government’s authority, has a daughter and a sick mother in Idaho, has been gainfully employed, and spent the past two years obeying the law, while submitting to federal authority by applying for federal wood-gathering and mining permits.
     “If he were such a danger, what happened for the past two years?” Drummond asked Navarro.
     Drummond asked Navarro to release Drexler, so long as he surrenders his guns during the case’s duration and agrees to make court appearances as required.
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Dickinson said Drexler was among several gunmen who took up positions on a freeway bridge, was armed with a scoped semiautomatic rifle, and that Drexler and the other armed Bundy supporters on the bridge were the primary concern of BLM officers, who feared for their lives.
     “He’s lying in a prone sniper position on a bridge on I-15,” Dickinson said, and Drexler indicated in a social media post that he “would have fired if fired upon.”
     In other Internet posts, Drexler called the April 2014 standoff a “life-changing moment,” said the “BLM is the bogeyman,” and called on others to resist federal court orders, Dickinson said.
     When Drexler arrived at the Bundy Ranch in April 2014, Dickenson said, he could have stayed at a camp for Bundy supporters or at a separate one for militia members. He chose to say at the militia camp, wore a camouflage military outfit during the standoff and brandished a rifle.
     Because of his participation in the standoff at the Bundy Ranch and subsequent activities, Navarro said, Drexler continued encouraging law-breaking and armed resistance against the federal government, and denied his motion for release.
     Drexler will remain detained until his February trial date. He is among 19 defendants accused of up to 16 federal offenses apiece, including obstruction and extortion, arising from their participation in the 2014 standoff at the ranch owned by lead defendant Cliven Bundy.

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