Skip to main content

Gavin Seim vs. the Veterans: Internal Squabbles are Dividing the Bundys’ Biggest Fans

Bundy supporters are a mix of sovereign citizens, militia members, extremist constitutionalists and the Bundy's friends and family. 

For a long time these disparate groups peaceably coordinated on the Bundys' behalf, with only minor flare ups between them. This changed as of Memorial Day 2017.

In May, Bundy fans traveled to Pahrump, Nevada to protest the mistreatment Ryan Bundy alleged he was receiving at the Pahrump Detention Center. Although Nye County investigators found that jail staff committed no criminal violations against the Bundys, supporters continued to flock there.

Protesters created a mock prison cell they used for fundraising and tried to get onlookers interested in Bundy's allegations with signs equating the Nevada jail to Guantanamo Bay. 

Among the demonstrators who traveled to Nevada was Gavin Seim, a member of the Bundy cohort who produced an online miniseries with the family last year. One of Seim’s protest props was an upside down American flag, a fairly common symbol in the anti-government movement. A veteran passing by Seim and his crew interpreted it as a sign of disrespect toward the nation and its vets, and became extremely upset.

The man requested that Seim and his friends turn the flag right side up. They refused and a tug of war for the flag, and a war of words ensued between the two men.    

“I did not spend six years of my life defending this son of a gun for you to stand here with it upside down” the man said. Seim later retorted that the veteran had disrespected his fallen brothers and the country by denying the Constitution.

The veteran eventually left, warning protesters “If I come back again and your flag is upside down, I will tear your flag up.”

Gavin Seim posted video of the confrontation, along with a separate incident with another veteran the day before, much to the consternation of Bundy supporters. Some were angry at his use of the upside down flag, — which is considered a form of desecration — others took issue with his reactions to the vet’s request. The kerfuffle has caused a rift in the sovereign/antigovernment movement, with many adherents choosing sides.

A number of individuals lined up against Seim, most notably anti-government activist Doug Knowles who has confronted Seim in the past:

Buddy supporter Doug Knowles reacts to the upside down flag controversy.

Others, like Malheur occupant Shawna Cox and Bundy fan girl Maureen Peltier are standing by him:

Maureen Peltier voices support for Gavin Seim.

This incident has caused a growing fissure in their movement, with many Bundy supporters arguing and taking sides, although there has been no reaction yet from the Bundys. 

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.