UPDATE: Strike teams of 15-20 agents are attempting to take the cattle and often in the process killing and burying the cattle in the desert. A group of roughly 100 peaceful protestors attempted to stop them and got in front of a convoy of agents in an attempt to call in the local sheriff as they perceived this as an illegal action. BLM agents began violently attacking the protestors, throwing women to the ground with a number of men being tazed. Agents ended up retreating after their initial attack. Protestors are awaiting and anticipating a more forceful response and requesting assistance from all freedom fighters/lovers in the SW U.S. and nationwide.
Clark County, Nev., April 9, 2014- Over the past two decades there has been an ongoing standoff between the U.S. federal government and a 67-year-old local Nevada cattle rancher named Cliven Bundy. This past week armed federal agents were deployed in what is a clear escalation in this ongoing feud.
Cliven Bundy, the last of the cattle ranchers in Clark County, refuses to comply with a court order from 2013 that orders him to remove his cattle from public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The BLM and the U.S National Park Service claim that they are simply responding to Mr. Bundy’s refusal to comply with the order by calling in federal agents and contract cowboys to confiscate what they call Mr. Bundy’s “trespass cattle.” Thus far, they have impounded roughly 277 of Clive Bundy’s estimated 900 cattle.
The Bureau of Land Management claims on their website that the, “Cattle have been in trespass on public lands in southern Nevada for more than two decades. This is unfair to the thousands of other ranchers who graze livestock in compliance with federal laws and regulations throughout the West. The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially. An impoundment of cattle illegally grazing on public lands is now being conducted as a last resort.”
As reported by The Blaze, the ranchers wife Carol Cox says there now appears to be snipers stationed around the family’s 150-acre ranch.
Mr. Bundy, a lifelong rancher, compares the government escalation to actions that the government has taken in Ruby Ridge, ID and Waco, TX. He contends that the Gold Butte area has been used by his family since the late 1800’s and that he has preemptive rights to the land. Bundy claims that the Bureau of Land Management has clearly “overstepped its boundaries by not letting me access my rights, not recognizing state sovereignty, and having over 200 armed officers watching our every move and stealing our cattle.”
Mr. Bundy’s daughter Shiree Bundy Cox in a letter explains the feud from the family’s perspective:
“I have had people ask me to explain my dad’s stance on this BLM fight. Here it is in as simple of terms as I can explain it. There is so much to it, but here it s in a nut shell. My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there. Then he sold them to my grandpa who then turned them over to my dad in 1972. These men bought and paid for their rights to the range and also built waters, fences and roads to assure the survival of their cattle, all with their own money, not with tax dollars. The rights to the land use are called preemptive rights. Some where down the line, to keep the cows from over grazing, came the Bureau of Land Management. They were supposed to assist the ranchers in the management of their ranges while the ranchers paid a yearly allotment which was to be use to pay the BLM wages and to help with repairs and improvements of the ranches. My dad did pay his grazing fees for years to the BLM until they were no longer using his fees to help him and to improve. Instead they began using these monies against the ranchers. They bought all the rest of the ranchers in the area out with they’re own grazing fees. When they offered to buy my dad out for a penance he said no thanks and then fired them because they weren’t doing their job. He quit paying the BLM and tried giving his grazing fees to the county, which they turned down. So my dad just went on running his ranch and making his own improvements with his own equipment and his own money, not taxes. In essence the BLM was managing my dad out of business. Well when buying him out didn’t work, they used the endangered species card. You’ve already heard about the desert tortoise. Well that didn’t work either, so then began the threats and the court orders, which my dad has proven to be unlawful for all these years. Now they’re desperate. It’s come down to buying the brand inspector off and threatening the County Sheriff. Everything their doing at this point is illegal and totally against the Constitution of the United States of America. Then there’s the issue of the cattle that are at this moment being stolen. See even if dad hasn’t paid them, those cattle belong to him, regardless of where they are they are my father’s property. His herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even existed. Now the Feds think they can just come in and remove them and sell them without a legal brand inspection or without my dad’s signature on it. They think they can take them over two borders, which is illegal, ask any trucker. Then they plan to take them to the Richfield Auction and sell them. All this with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars. See how slick they are? Well, this is it in a nut shell. Thanks”
The government position is that Bundy owes them for grazing fees that he stopped paying in 1993, which he argued in court that he had no obligation to pay the agency, as his ancestors worked the land before the existence of the Bureau of Land Management. Subsequently, in 1998, the land was declared completely off limits to cattle as it was declared a designated habitat for the federally protected desert tortoise.
Although Cliven Bundy attempted to pay the county, they refused his payment. BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon, says that “The estimated amount owed by him… totals $1.1 million.” Cost estimates for the cattles removal from the land are approximately $3 million dollars, which the taxpayer will be responsible for paying.
When Cannon was asked about the claim that snipers are on scene, she refused to confirm or deny the allegation saying, “There are law enforcement and other personnel in place as needed to ensure that the BLM and National Park Services employees and contractors are able to conduct the operation safely. Specific operations information regarding this impoundment will not be released.”
In addition to the heavily armed federal presence, the Bundy’s 37-year-old son Dave was arrested, “following failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands,” stated Cannon. Dave Bundy was held overnight after being arrested for refusing to disperse and resisting issuance of a citation or arrest. He claims he was arrested and roughed up for filming federal agents while outside an area designated for First Amendment activity on the disputed land. Cannon was unable to explain why he was held overnight and refused to comment on the allegations of brutality.
Through it all, Cliven Bundy stands firm stating, “It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a states rights issue. I really hope that we can learn to defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end. I don’t know when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected. Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that.”