Ammon’s Army: Inside the Far-Right People’s Rights Network
Prepping for the Future
Another cohort that Bundy and the People’s Rights network have targeted for recruitment are “preppers.” Also known as “survivalists,” they are individuals who vigorously prepare for emergencies, including possible disruptions in the social or political order. Preppers stress self-reliance, stockpiling supplies, and survival skills. Prepping is big business and there is an entire ecosystem of companies that sell goods targeted to preppers. The idea became so popular that the National Geographic channel aired four seasons of the reality TV-show “Doomsday Preppers” from 2012-2014.
For decades, there has been a sizable, though not complete, overlap between preppers and the militia movement. The crossover is most visible at prepper conventions and so-called preparedness expos, where militia figures speak as prepper businesses sell their wares on the convention floor.
Ammon Bundy and People’s Rights have woven prepper ethos into the new organization. “Be Prepared” is part of the People’s Rights credo. According to the group’s website,
“Being prepared may consists[sic] of many things. It could be having a 72 hour kit for each member in the family or it could be knowing who your neighbors are that would help defend your life. Maybe owning or possessing a weapon that would drive off criminals and protect your children. Possibly even be food storage or training on how to grow food. What about having an emergency first aid kit? Overall, being prepared is simply looking at the real possibilities for a need and then planning ahead for it.
You may think that purchasing and storing things for future need is a waste of time, money and makes it hard to keep your home organized… well, maybe so. Get over it!”
Though the first few months of People’s Rights were focused on fighting against COVID-19 restrictions, Ammon Bundy and other speakers occasionally provided a glimpse of the direction they planned to take the organization. As one speaker told an Idaho People’s Rights gathering in September,
“I just want you to understand what you’re up against. In the days that are ahead of us, the probability ranges from extremely high to imminent that some or all of us will experience some form of persecution; some form of food shortage; some denial of goods and services; lack of communications via internet, cellphone, etcetera; power blackouts. These are all things that range from extremely high to imminent for all of us in this room and everyone watching in the days ahead.”
At the same meeting, Ammon Bundy added to the fear around a potential disruption in food supplies. He followed by describing how People’s Rights is in the process of building out their own food distribution network. Such a system would allow activists to avoid compliance with COVID-19 restrictions when getting groceries, as well as potentially allowing providers to bypass USDA food safety regulations.
Ammon Bundy runs a truck repair business, his father is a rancher, his brother farms melons. Given that background, it’s not surprising to see Bundy promoting an ideological scheme that could also provide new customers for his services and his family’s products.
Whether the Bundys can financially benefit from tearing communities apart during a pandemic remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that his organization, People’s Rights, is recruiting an army of followers across the country. Left unchecked, there could be real damage to countless communities.
 “Be Prepared.” People’s Rights Website. Undated. https://www.peoplesrights.org/prepare-unite.
 Don. “People’s Rights Meeting – Emmett, Idaho 09-03-2020” People’s Rights Facebook Group. Facebook. Video. September 3, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/peoplesrights.org/videos/328177418293891/.
Inside the Far-Right People's Rights Network
A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the Montana Human Rights Network
Copyright © 2020. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.