Jason Arment

Interview with the Bundy Sniper, Part IV: Phone Calls from Solitary

In the middle of publishing Jason Arment’s three-part interview with the Bundy Sniper, Eric Parker, Parker was arrested by FBI agents and immediately placed in solitary confinement without explanation. Arment has since been able to reach Parker via telephone to learn the latest. [Read Part IPart II, and Part III of the original interview.]

 

Call I

 

[Eric Parker starts first.]

Hey

 

Hey, what’s up, man?

How are you doing?

 

I’m doing all right, how are you?

Oh, you know. I’m hanging in there. Trying to stay positive.

 

So what exactly is the situation? The Federal Government has you locked up right now for a multitude of charges. Some of which I’m not sure how much they make sense, but I’m not a lawyer. Fill me in, from your own words, what’s happening?

Well, they came and arrested where I live. I was on my way to work. I got a phone call, they were arresting a friend of mine and somebody saw it. So they called me to tell me. And when I went to turn around and drive over there, about five FBI vehicles swarmed in on me.

They weren’t messing around. The all came out with guns on me. One guy said, “If you move, I’m going to blow your brains out.” And he meant it. I could see he meant it. So I got out of my truck—I didn’t even put my truck into park—I was pretty scared they were, I don’t know …

After they shot LaVoy, I was pretty sure they were looking to shoot me. I was kind of scared, nervous, whatever. They detained me right there and drove me to Boise, Idaho, from where I live—about two hours. Real fast. It was almost like they thought commandos were going to come save me or something. They got me out of my neighborhood real fast. They took me to Ada County Jail.

Yeah, the charges. The charges are pretty insane. A lot conspiracy. I’m looking at them right now, I’ve got them right here: conspiracy to commit offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede and injure a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, assault on a Federal Officer, threatening a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, obstruction the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion, and interstate travel in aid of extortion. If you add up all the years it comes up to about 115 years worth of charges.

 

From what we’ve spoken about, in the interview we did, you were very forward in saying there was no conspiracy at the Bundy Ranch, at least on your part. You showed up with a friend because of your concern with what was happening. Have they presented, obviously trial hasn’t happened and what not, but have they presented any evidence, or have they let you know—where is the conspiracy thing entering into this.

It’s totally and utterly confusing. As far as I can tell, I think that they think that it happened exactly the way that they think it happened. If that makes sense. They put in their indictment all these things—by the way, some of the lawyers have said that the indictment looks pretty elementary and is pretty vague, which I agree with. They think it happened a certain way and they’re trying to portray it a certain way, saying that at the Bundys’ there was a huge conspiracy, and that we knew all of that. And like I told you in our interview, I went for the free speech zone. To me, when they put up that free speech zone, it was open aggression on the Constitution. And I went to protest outside that free speech zone.

There was a guy who was a Clark County Administrator and he had said in an interview that the people who were coming to support Cliven Bundy better bring funeral money or a body bag or some shit like that. Which, you know, that’s why I went in the manner that I went; I was prepared to defend myself. The fact is that I was only there for about twenty-four hours. And I frankly don’t give a shit about cows. I understand property issues and I understand sticking up for his rights and everything, but that wasn’t why I went.

To this day, I’ve never spoken to Cliven Bundy. There’s this huge “conspiracy,” but to this very day I’ve never spoken to Cliven Bundy. I met some of those guys that were there later on in life, when we were at Oregon, at Sugar Pine Mine. And I’ve met some of them since. At the time, anybody there trying to say they were involved in this “conspiracy” I had never spoken to.

 

And that’s really the impression that you gave when I interviewed. And also I kind of thought the same thing about the indictment, because I looked it over, and I happened to be in the writing business myself—technical writing is much less glamorous than it sounds—it just looked like something that was written up because it needed to be and there wasn’t a whole lot of thought given to, “How can we actually make some of this stuff stick?” Because, I mean, there were so many people with firearms involved with that, I just don’t know how they are going to prove that you were looking down your rifle at a Law Enforcement Officer. And also, the charge that implies that you were carrying a firearm to hurt a Law Enforcement Officer, along with the charge that implies a Law Enforcement Officer was hurt. And that’s not what happened.

It implies a lot of things. And there isn’t any proof to that, and let alone it’s just not the case. At least, honestly—I can only speak for myself and the two guys with me. There’s nineteen defendants named. You brought up an interesting point, that it looked like they had to write it out. What I think happened, in my personal opinion, Cliven Bundy was headed to Burns, Oregon when he got arrested. Burns, Oregon, after LaVoy had been shot, was a powder keg. The ranchers, the citizens, were upset. There was a lot of emotion. And I feel that they had to stop Cliven Bundy from going there. And they couldn’t really arrest him for just going to Burns. But they could arrest for two years ago, with all of this trumped up stuff here.

 

That’s an interesting point, because it seemed strange, at least to me, if they were going to hit you guys with conspiracy charges, I just feel like the Bundy Ranch is the weakest thing they could have decided to hammer you on. Frankly, when I heard that you had been arrested, I assumed that they were going to arrest you for either your activities at the mines or your activity outside of the Bird Sanctuary in that town. But even then they would have needed some concrete evidence that there was conspiracy to commit crime.

I don’t think you can arrest people for conspiracy to organize a community—for being a community organizer.

Thank you for calling it what it is. I feel that I’m here because I’ve been trying to show communities how to address these things in the right manner. There are certain steps to be taken, with grievances, and our constitutional rights. And I’ve been telling a lot of communities, not just Burns but all over my state, the right way to do this. How to go about it through the right channels. And that’s why I think I’m sitting here in jail. I think they wanted to shut me up. I think they wanted to stop me from organizing communities to stand up for themselves against whatever—legislative tyranny is what I call it. And I think that’s really what it comes down to.

Whether they can prove all of this or not, and whether any of this sticks or not, they’re actively ruining my life. My wife and my kids are home alone. There’s nobody paying for my home right now, my mortgage. It’s very possible I’m going to lose my house. I’ve lost my job. I feel like they’re exercising their right to completely ruin my life. I don’t know how you’d combat that. We’re pretty worried that we’re not going to get a trial here in Nevada. It already seems that way as far as the lawyers, and the judges, the detention hearings I’ve been through.

 

Do you have any plan of taking a plea?

No.

 

Okay, well, beyond that, you’ve spoken about how this is very hard on your family. But you’re in solitary, so it’s hard on you as well. So they picked you up and they took you to jail, and you went to solitary directly—have you been in the general population at all? Why are you in solitary? Did you pick a fight? Or what happened?

No. I’ve been in solitary the whole time. My wife just asked the U.S. Marshals why I’m still in solitary, because some of the other guys have been let out. They told her it was by my choice, which is not the case. I think they’re trying to break me down—twenty-two, twenty-three hours alone with your thoughts can drive a man crazy. I think they’re trying to break my spirit; even if all this doesn’t stick they want to make sure they’ve affected me. They want to make sure that I don’t want to go and risk this shit again or something, I assume.

The detention hearing was insane. It was mostly Facebook posts. They tried to put the idea that I am dangerous, they said things like I spend my free time traveling around the country matching force with the Federal Government. There was no way to defend myself during the detention hearing. I was told that they weren’t going to put me on the stand and if I said anything it would only help the prosecution and they proceeded to lie their asses off.

 

I’ve definitely heard of this before. So they took Facebook posts and used them against you in the court of law. Were these posts super inflammatory? Because often times, it’s not necessarily a new thing to people paying attention but like say—

 

YOU HAVE ONE MINUTE LEFT

 

So I’m going to have to call you back, all right?

 

It’s all good.

I’m going to hang up and call you right back.

 

THE CALLER HAS HUNG UP

 

Call II

 

All right, I’m back.

 

So these Facebook posts, by your estimation, were you saying that crazy of stuff? Because in the past I’ve read about—and it’s factual information, it’s not conjecture, speculation—veterans being arrested for posting things that the government called anti-government. What were your Facebook posts like that they were used in a court that then determined that you would be held indefinitely until your trial in solitary?

I have all the paperwork in my cell.

 

Just give me an idea. Was it that crazy?

No. I wouldn’t say so much anti-government as pro-Constitution, Bill of Rights. Pro I am allowed to defend myself. There were one or two that were a little inflammatory, but I’ve always been real careful to word things in a way that wouldn’t be too inflammatory, or at least not get myself in trouble. There were one or two, before I realized that I had a couple of trolls coming after me saying that I’m anti-American and I should be deported and everything else, once or twice I lost my temper. And they had the screenshots for that. But mostly it was just pro standing up for yourself, pro standing for the Bill of Rights.

So, here’s an example too, my buddy Steve Stewart, who went with us, and is in custody. He won his detention hearing in Idaho. And I thought I was going to win mine too. The probation people came and suggested we be released, that I wasn’t a danger to society, that I had ties, that I wasn’t going anywhere, that I wasn’t going to run. And that actually I did want to have this conversation. By my own words I’ve said that this is a conversation that does need to happen. I just wish I could drive to court and have it.

But, so in his bail hearing in Nevada, because he won in Idaho and the government came back and said, “Well, that’s fine, but we need to see what happens in Nevada.” So they kept him in custody and they had another bail hearing in Nevada. And during that hearing they actually brought up that I was having my wife post updates to my Facebook page. In his detention hearing they were talking about my wife posting to my Facebook page, updates, that I was asking her to post. And for some reason that would mean if there was ever another call to action, we would most definitely go. So they had to keep us in detention.

 

It seems like a leap of logic.

It makes no sense.

 

You’re being held, obviously, against your will. It’s not punitive at this point. Do you feel like it’s coercive, do you feel like it’s punitive? Because coercive imprisonment, in this system that we live in, is legal up to about a year without any charges. But punitively they cannot hold you very long without charges. How do you feel? What is your feeling about how you’re being held?

It’s hard for me to say. I don’t think there is any proof to any of their assertions. Just because I know that I didn’t do any of this stuff that they are trying to say I did.

I do … I think. You know, it’s hard for me to say.

I know that my lawyer has gone and met with the prosecution and I’ve asked him to ask for my discovery—which would be any proof they have against me. And they showed him a video of me on the bridge talking after it all happened. And I admit I was frustrated, and I had just thought we were all going to die, and I had said, “Stand up for yourselves. There is a man in Texas on the Red River that the BLM is trying to take 90,000 acres from. It’s all deeded land and they’re taking it from him. Stand up for yourselves.”

So I asked my lawyer, “So that’s all they have? Me saying, ‘Stand up for yourselves.’?”

And he said, “Well, that’s all they showed me. They said they have hundreds of hours of footage from that day.”

And my reply was, “So they have Facebook posts? People who have posted videos to their Facebook.”

He told me that they said that with Eric Parker it’s mostly what he said and did afterward. And even my lawyer said that that doesn’t make sense. Maybe if I’d said it before, but afterward …?

 

A lot of your charges have to do with conspiracy before the fact. And I’ve watched the interview that you’ve mentioned. You did mention that the individual’s land was about to be seized, but from what I saw there was no call to violence.

No, there wasn’t. They’re reaching. And I’m no lawyer either, so I don’t really know how a lot of this works—I’m learning, but—it’s been very frustrating because I don’t think they have any proof. I think that they drew 115 years worth of charges up that they’re just trying to scare everybody into taking plea deals.

 

Are you considering when you go to court asking for some kind of reimbursement for lost wages?

Oh yeah. There’s gotta be something. I’m going to end up losing my house. I lost my job. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I was with life. We own our house, I’ve got two kids, two vehicles; we’re going to lose it all. And not to mention my marriage. My poor wife. I’m surprised she hasn’t left me yet. She’s a rock. She’s trying her hardest, but I would understand the frustration.

 

Doing time is a hard thing, especially in the prison system we have in this nation, which is the largest ever to exist.

I really don’t know what to say or ask. Because I don’t know how they are holding you in solitary still. Especially because it’s such a big deal to hold somebody in solitary, it really is. Other nations have banned it outright, and you’re being held with so little. If all they can produce are Facebook posts—you could get on my Facebook and find some inflammatory posts.

And that’s our First Amendment. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? That’s my question in all of this. I am in no way being assumed innocent until proven guilty. It’s actually quite the opposite. I feel like I have to prove my innocence. I was always taught that the burden of proof was on the state.

 

Really quick, as far as lawyers go, because I’m afraid we’ll run out of time before we get there. As far as lawyers go, do you need another lawyer? What is going on with your lawyer situation?

I wouldn’t mind having a team of really good lawyers; they have four prosecuting attorneys against us. And all I have is this public defender and, you know, I hope that he’s good. And I hope that he cares and everything, but I don’t know that.

The thing, too, is that they’re trying us all together. I’ve never even heard of this before. They’re calling it a complex case and they’re trying us all together. I was told my court date is May 2, but my lawyer said that’s not going to happen because there are nineteen defendants and nineteen lawyers and they need to get on the same page. And half of the people in this are in jail in Oregon going to court for the refuge. I don’t understand how they can—if I have the right to be judged by a jury of my peers, how are my peers the same peers as Cliven Bundy? An eighty-year-old rancher, Mormon, in the desert out there. I don’t feel like I’m going to get a fair trial at all.

I think they’re doing that because they only have to buy off one judge and a few lawyers. I don’t really know what to do, Jason. I’ll be honest. I know Michele Fiore, who is a Nevada legislator, she’s working right now, and I just signed a piece of paper saying that a union of lawyers—I don’t know the name exactly—can represent me. So she’s trying her hardest to get some real lawyers involved here. I don’t have the money to go out and buy a bigwig lawyer. So there are people out there trying to make it so that we get proper representation.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the lawyer situation. I know that I’m not impressed so far. The idea the prosecuting attorney that Eric Parker is more about what he did afterward, and he didn’t go right to the judge and ask for dismissal. Some of us have decided to represent ourselves; some of the guys over in Oregon have dismissed their lawyers and are representing themselves. I don’t know if that’s the best idea for me. I’m not well versed in law and I don’t have confidence to do that. But then again I can’t just stand by and watch some guy screw me in court and not be able to speak for myself.

The other thing is not getting a court date until whenever they decide to get everybody together. That really bothers me. I do assume that I have a right to a speedy trial. And I plan on invoking that right, in hopes that it breaks me off from this whole group. Because everybody’s got preconceived notions about Cliven Bundy, too. They’ve done pretty well at calling him the welfare rancher and taking some of his statements out of context. And I don’t really want to be in the Bundy camp, per se. I was there for the free speech zone, I was there for the first amendment

 

YOU HAVE ONE MINUTE LEFT

 

people have the right to air their grievances without being threatened.

Listen, I’ll call you right back, friend.

 

All right.

 

Call III

 

YOU MAY START THE CONVERSATION NOW

 

You there?

Yup, I’m here.

 

What were we just talking about?

Being tried all at the same time.

 

Oh yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, because it’s almost like they want to use the RICO Act, how they try mobsters all for the same stuff. But you guys aren’t in the mob: there’s no money, there’s no hierarchy, at least for some of these people, there just isn’t. But there’s no angry protester, we’re sick of this Act, or something along those lines.

I just don’t understand how all of these charges, some of which are spanning the nation, are going to be able to be conglomerated into one, or jelled into one go of it. I’m not really sure what they mean by “complex case,” and in fact I kind of assume that that definition would shift underneath my feet as I spoke to anyone about it, considering what’s happening. Has your lawyer given you any idea—does this seem like it’s on wobbly legs? Or do they really plan on trying to do this? What do you think?

I think they really do plan on trying to try us all together. And how that’s going to work, I don’t even know. I understand if three people decided they were going to go rob a convenience store and they ended up killing an officer. If that was the case, I could see trying those three people together. It would at least make sense.

With this, there is so many different people who came from so many different places. One guy is from New Hampshire. He wasn’t there until after the standoff. He wasn’t even there during the standoff. Mel Bundy, one of the Bundy sons, he was down in the wash, but he was on horseback. He had a flag. He was carrying a flag.

There’s so much here that I think a good lawyer could tear it apart. Is that going to happen for us? I don’t know. None of us are guys with a lot of money.

 

Do you have to consent to this trial? Because for a lot of the legal stuff that I hear about people end up consenting to a trial that’s a little strange. Do all nineteen of you have to consent to this?

No. From what I can tell, and maybe we have by pleading not guilty, but from what I can tell it’s the prosecution that’s said, “Yes, we’re going to try this as a complex case,” and that was it. I haven’t signed anything that says I’m willing to be tried with nineteen other individuals, most of which I don’t even know.

Like I said before, I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really know how a lot of this works. But to me it seems really sketchy, really, I mean, illegal. It seems wrong.

 

And that’s why I was asking if you felt it coercive, or if it was already punitive, or if it was both. Obviously the Bundy Ranch, and at the Bird Sanctuary, are pretty singular events for this nation so far. I’m just trying to rack my brain to find another case that was tried like this that’s not mob related, and I just can’t.

I think, but I don’t know this yet, but I think it may come down to the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act. I’m afraid that they’re going to try to claim that we are all domestic terrorists. If they can assert that idea, that we’re all domestic terrorists, like my charge right here, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States—I love my country, Jason. I love my country more than anything; there is nothing more important than this Constitutional Republic of the United States. And my children growing up with the Bill of Rights and not being on shaky ground. And to say that I’m conspiring to commit an offense against my country is just enraging to me. I can’t even explain how mad it makes me.

But I think that’s what they’re trying to do. I think they’re trying to say that we’re domestic terrorists and they have the right to do whatever the hell they want.

 

That will be interesting if they do that because I feel like shit would really hit the fan if they pulled out the “all of these people are domestic terrorists” card. That would be a very bold statement. But also, when does this turn into libel, slander, maligning, defamation of character? I would assume most of you can demonstrate pretty easily there are damages. Like you’ve said, you may lose your house, you may lose your trucks, you lost your job.

Because, like right now I’m doing an interview. If I were to write something and the press I’m on were to run it, something like “so and so is a sex offender” and they were not, and that person were to lose their job—I would be in trouble.

Brandon Curtiss, he’s the president of the 3% of Idaho, the organization I’m a part of that we formed after the ranch. He was attacked by the Idaho Statesman, which is the newspaper of Idaho—front page, they did a full on hit piece on him. Full on. About him filing bankruptcy a few years back, he might have to do it again, he owns a property management company. They just tore into him, right on the front page. And did all this hearsay—never contacted him to ask him about any of it. It was just a legitimate full on hit piece, and it worked! Because half of his clientele came in the next day and quit. He’s literally been the victim of what you’re saying there.

I don’t know what he’s going to do legally. To me he has all the right in the world to just sue the shit out of the Idaho Statesman. More to the point of our case is that it all kind of came around to the donations he’s receiving, that we’re receiving, that he’s putting on all of our books. So now there are rumors going around the internet, because he might have to file bankruptcy, or has, that he’s taking the donations. And there are these rumors going around that these donations aren’t being used legitimately. I feel like that’s what they were after, that that’s what they were trying to do. Because he’s the one out there putting on my books to let me call you right now, and to call my kids, and for all of us that have been arrested from Idaho.

He’s trying to get enough money to fly witnesses to our court trial, to fly our families to our court dates. And they just really hit him pretty hard, and he’s looking at moving his whole business. Can I prove that they did that on purpose? Not really, but that’s the way it looks.

 

Real quick, and I don’t want to get too in depth with this answer, but why is Forbes magazine invested in what happens in the Pacific Northwest with the militia movement? I’m not a real journalist myself—I would cringe to write like that.

You’d have to go see who owns Forbes. I couldn’t tell you right off the bat, but if I had an opportunity to Google it, I bet that it would make sense. The fact is, I think it’s an interesting keynote here, that no one ever contacted me, Jason. Not to do an interview, or to ask for my opinion. Even right after the ranch occurred, it was always, “Bundy and his right-wing militia,” and a picture of me on the bridge.

 

And in fact, one of the women who is doing this pseudo-investigative journalism where they don’t even contact you, insulted you over Twitter to me.

So no one from Forbes has contacted you? Has anyone from the mainstream media contacted you to ask you what happened?

Nobody, Jason. Nobody. Not one person. Not after the ranch, not after the Oregon mine, not anytime. The Idaho Statesman contacted us one time to ask why we didn’t go into the refuge. And there’s an article out there about how I decided it was not the right thing to do, but we were asked and I thought it was too offensive. I gave them a statement, that it was something that I didn’t believe in, and that we were there to do other things.

 

It’s just really interesting to me, from what I was Tweeted from this individual—maybe this individual’s editor will read this when it’s published and look over this person’s work—they called you stupid. I’m not sure if they called you racist, I’d have to go look. They insinuated that I was dumb as well. And that’s funny, because I’m an extremely well-educated disabled veteran, and I have no idea what this person’s schooling is, but it’s probably a lot less than mine.

These are people that are making salaries. The person harassing me [on Twitter] was making a full-time salary with benefits, and I do this for free.

Out of a love of journalism and truth.

I think they’ve all been told that they can’t talk to me. I really think that they’ve all been told—maybe there is a memo out there or something. All I know is that I was never once asked why I went or what happened.

My poor wife, just the other day, one of her friends calls her. She’s like, “Your husband’s on TV.” It turned out it was on Investigation Discovery, the network channel. And what they were saying was so

 

YOU HAVE ONE MINUTE LEFT

 

it basically was saying that I’m the head of an anti-government movement, and I’m a piece of shit. There is such a slander campaign out there. It’s intentional.

 

Hey, man, thanks for talking to me. Keep your head up in prison. We’ll be in contact, all right?

I’ll definitely be talking to you again, man. Thank you, Jason. I appreciate it.

 

THE CALLER HAS HUNG UP

 

On the fifth of April, 2016, Eric was released from his month-long solitary confinement into the general population of Henderson Detention Center, in Henderson, Nevada.

 

[Read Part IPart II, and Part III of the original interview.]

 

[squerb_button]

 

Jason Arment

Jason Arment served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Machine Gunner in the USMC. He's earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Chautauqua, Hippocampus, The Burrow Press Review, Dirty Chai, and War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities; anthologized in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors Volume 2 & 4; and is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, The Florida Review, and Phoebe. Jason lives in Denver.

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3 Comments

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  2. Maritha said:

    Excellent interview! These men are being slandered, as well as all good Constitutionals. Thank you for going that extra mile to get this on the record. Mainstream media is on the same evil side as those Federal employees who are kidnapping these great people from their families. Keeping them all in prayers as they are fighting the “Big House.”

  3. Pingback: Interview With The Bundy Sniper From Solitary Confinement

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