Updated February 23, 2021 - 10:21 am
A Las Vegas man linked to anti-government activist Ammon Bundy has been arrested for allegedly threatening the lives of a police detective and a prosecutor who both handle domestic terrorism cases.
Joshua Martinez, 32, who runs Bundy’s burgeoning People’s Rights network in Nevada, faces stalking and harassment charges related to the alleged social media threats against Metro Detective Kenneth Mead and Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Dickerson, according to a criminal complaint.
Dickerson obtained a felony gun conviction against Martinez in 2019, and Mead had a courtroom encounter with Martinez in that case. Martinez was sentenced to probation.
On Feb. 17, Martinez posted a Facebook photo of a flag-draped coffin carried by uniformed officers with the caption, “How police officers take out their trash,” the complaint alleges. Next to the photo, Martinez said, “I can’t wait to see the news and hear that Detective Kenneth Mead is in that casket.”
Another post that day featured a photo of Dickerson with the statement, “This is Michael Dickerson. He is Detective Kenneth Mead’s bitch. Dickerson, I hope you and Mead die a slow and painful death… Mead, I have a message for you — Molon Labe.” The Greek phrase, which means come and take them, is regarded as an expression of defiance for some gun rights activists.
The complaint alleges that Martinez threatened Mead with the intent that Mead be “placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm.”
In an interview with the Review-Journal days before his arrest, Martinez said his main effort with Bundy’s group was holding Las Vegas police accountable when they stop people on the streets. He has posted videos on social media of police during stops, sometimes challenging their actions.
“We don’t believe in bowing down to police,” he said. “We’re anti-corrupt government. Not just anti-government. We need government.”
Martinez, dressed in blue jail garb, chains and a mask, made a brief appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court on Tuesday. When a judge told him the district attorney’s office might have a conflict of interest in the case because Dickerson is one of the victims, Martinez responded, “I’ve been targeted. I understand.”
A deputy public defender representing Martinez said she planned to raise the conflict issue in court papers.
Four felony charges
Martinez, who is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $1 million bail, is facing four felony charges — aggravated stalking, challenge to a fight with use of a deadly weapon, stalking with use of the internet or electronic communication and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He also faces two misdemeanor harassment charges.
Police found a shotgun they allege was in his possession when they executed a search warrant last week. His plea deal sentence in the 2019 gun case prohibits him from having guns.
Deputy District Attorney Eckley Keach, who is prosecuting the stalking case against Martinez, said his office is taking the threats seriously.
“The goal is to make sure that justice is done, not only for the named victims in this case but also to ensure that the community is protected against people who choose to threaten to harm others,” Keach said.
In a Review-Journal story on the broadening spectrum of extremism published Saturday, Martinez said that Bundy’s newest grassroots group, about 415 members strong in Nevada, prefers a “bullhorn” over violence.
“We try to keep things peaceful,” he said. “Ammon wants everything peaceful.”
But the criminal complaint alleges Martinez between June 1, 2017, and Feb. 18, 2021, “unlawfully” engaged in social media conduct against Mead and Dickerson that “would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or harassed.”
On the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot, Martinez posted on Facebook: “This is Detective Kenneth Mead with the Metropolitan Police Department. He is an enemy of the constitution and has tried to make my life a living hell but has failed. To any activist here in Las Vegas, please keep an eye out for him. I also have his resume just in case you want more intel on him. Contact me for more information.”
The post included three screenshots of Mead, according to the complaint.
History of violence
“In a later post, Martinez wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Martinez added more in the comments on that post: “How can you gain your rights back by working with a tyrannical government? You can’t take down the palace using the kings tools. Name a people who have gained their rights back by being peaceful. Violence is what moves history.”
Martinez has a history of creating disturbances at the federal courthouse in 2017 while supporting the Bundy family during the criminal case stemming from an armed standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In October 2018, he was found guilty of disorderly conduct, fined $500 and ordered to stay away from the courthouse.
Both Ammon Bundy and his father, Cliven Bundy, were among those charged in the April 2014 armed showdown near the Bundy ranch over the federal agency’s roundup of his cattle. But a federal judge later found government misconduct and dismissed the high-profile case.
The younger Bundy made headlines recently for anti-government actions in Idaho and elsewhere in the Northwest, as part of People’s Rights efforts to organize against coronavirus restrictions and other perceived government overreaches.
He told the Los Angeles Times that the new grassroots network had about 50,000 people in 35 states, and he described it as “neighborhood watch on steroids.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center suggested that Ammon Bundy is attempting to build a “network of right-wing, often anti-government activists” that can be mobilized quickly if needed.
Bundy also was regarded as one of the leaders of the deadly 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism.