Oregon rancher Ammon Bundy has taken a step back from former followers he's calling "warmongers," citing online backlash over comments he made in defense of Central American migrants seeking a better life in the U.S.
What are the details?
Bundy is blasting critics who were offended by a video he posted online last week in which he discussed his views on happenings at the southern border and how travelers in the migrant caravan have been characterized.
The militiaman criticized President Donald Trump's labelling of the migrant group as criminals in its entirety, drawing the ire of Trump supporters who accused Bundy of being a traitor.
"To group [the caravan members] all up like, frankly, our president has done — you know, trying to speak respectfully — but he has basically called them all criminals and said they're not coming here," Bundy said in the video. "What about individuals, those who have come for reasons of need for their families, you know, the fathers and mothers and children that come here and were 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?"
According to BuzzFeed, Bundy was stunned by the instant backlash he received from his followers, causing him to quit social media altogether.
"I expected to get a decent amount of pushback, but I also believed that I could explain to them why I'd taken those positions and why," he explained. "But you know, I've always had these kinds of thoughts that people were not really listening to the principles of things, that they had aligned with me for some other reasons, and that some of those [reasons] are good and some of those might not be, but this last video kind of confirmed that."
"It's like being in a room full of people in here, trying to teach, and no one is listening," he added. "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."
Bundy says while he has received a great deal of support for his views on welcoming migrants workers to America, he has also received messages from people saying they wish the government had killed him and his family, and others who expressed regret for supporting his armed stand-offs in the past.
He told the Washington Post that other commenters on social media accused him of being paid by "globalists," and his Facebook page was filled with criticism over his stance.
"The facts were rejected," Bundy told the Post. "I could only see that 99 percent of it was that same Trump rhetoric of calling all these people terrorists. And they'd pick out an isolated issue and go, 'Oh look, 40 of them are charging the border, so all 5,000 of them are bad.' ... These refuges are not all the same. They didn't come from the same places. They didn't even come from the same country."
What's the background?
The Bundy family name has become synonymous with ranchers' rights and battling federal overreach on government-owned lands in the Western U.S. The Bundys, including Ammon's father, Cliven, have been involved in two armed standoffs with the feds over grazing rights on public property.
While Ammon Bundy has stepped back from his online presence, he won't stop fighting for the causes he believes in.
"In free governments, the people own the land and the resources. That is the battle," he said, according to the Daily Mail. "I have every intention of running the BLM and the Forest Service and the Fish & Wildlife right out of the west so the people can be free. Don't think we'll lighten up on that."