He stopped dutifully, but was told that he could not go further. When Joel let the officers know that his home was in the path of the forest fire, and that he needed to protect his animals, the officers informed him that they could not authorize him to go past their road block.
With no criminal intent, but driven by his love for his home and farm animals, Joel turned back and thought he would have to run the three miles in on foot. He went to the neighbor’s place to ask if he could park his truck, and was told that he could access the private road across this property. Joel then drove across the ranch to the private road on which he lived, having circumvented the roadblock.
In this scenario, Joel Boniek can be seen as a responsible individual, while the officers manning the road block were "just following orders" on behalf of the government. In this scenario, the volunteer fire department, which was on the scene, and the County authorities were assuming responsibility for Joel's ranch. Joel Boniek, not knowing what the fire situation was, but knowing instinctively that it was his primary responsibility to look after the condition of his own place, sought a way around the blockage which would deprive him of his unalienable right to protect his animals and property. That goes directly to two traditional American concepts – "private property ownership" and "personal responsibility". Both are protected in the Montana Constitution and in the Constitution for the united States of America.
But the officers discovered what Joel had done, and they went after him. They caught up to him and they thought they had to use force to stop him. Although Joel had, like any other Montanan would likely have, a hand gun on his person when the officers caught him, he never drew that weapon, and no officer has charged him with assault with a deadly weapon. While standing as ordered, with hands spread and up, with one officer holding a gun on him, Joel was assaulted from behind by another officer. His feet were kicked out from under him, he was "hammerlocked" and pinned to the ground. Stunned and offering no resistance he was then cuffed while face down in the gravel road. Joel was then pulled up to his feet by the officers and searched, at which time the officers took Joel’s handgun.
Joel never threatened any officer with that gun, and never even put a hand near it. However, it was falsely stated in the initial news reports that he went for his holster – inferring to readers that the charges against Joel were justified.
Joel spent the night in jail, just as, long ago, Henry David Thoreau, Saints Paul and Peter, and many other men who did what is right regardless of the official prohibitions, spent a night in jail. And Joel Boniek is no more a criminal today than were those other gentlemen back then. As a Constitutionalist, Joel knew in his heart that his duty to his wife and their property and their animals was to make every effort to get to his ranch to fight the fire, to keep the fire from destroying everything.
Truth be known, the fire encroached to less than ten feet from his front door, and damaged some of his out-structures on his property. A blessing not bestowed by the government, but by the volunteer fire fighters, the fire did not destroy Joel's house, and did not harm Jesse or his other animals, aside from smoking-up their lungs and frightening them. Joel was taken down while trying to help them. The four officers at the road block, who could not spare even one officer to accompany Joel, as he later pointed out to them, but who did have enough officers to go chase him, placed more value in their assignment than in their common sense.
So that is the scenario in which Joel Boniek was arrested. I believe that readers of the publications which carried the incomplete and inaccurate Associated Press coverage are entitled to know just how Joel came to be scheduled for a hearing in court on November 20, 2012. All the coverage is, thus far, only mentioning that Joel had tried to run a road block. There was a road block at the road’s entrance, and Joel did not run that road block – he stopped, spoke with the officers, then he turned away, went to a neighbor’s place in hopes of running the final three miles across that ranch to his ranch on foot, and he then discovered that he could access the private road to his ranch at another place below the road block. That is hugely different than “running a road block”. There was no criminal intent.