Cliven Bundy, a 67-year-old Nevada rancher, was at the center of a now-resolved national controversy as the federal Bureau of Land Management tried to take his cattle. States’ rights advocates and activists against the militarization of the police have been deeply disturbed by the alleged actions of the federal government and Bundy fights to continue to raise cattle on his land. Above you can hear Bundy talk about the situation on his ranch.
On Saturday April 13, the police ended the tense round up of cattle, called by many a “siege.” Although the pro-Bundy militias on the ground are calling the stand down a victory, the federal government has sworn to continue its legal battle over the owed taxes.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Bundy Owes the Government $1 Million in Taxes for Grazing on Endangered-Tortoise Habitat
In 1993, the federal government began requiring ranchers to pay grazing fees for cattle raised around Bunkerville, Nevada. The change occurred after the desert tortoise was put on the endangered list and and the Bureau of Land Management decided a tax would dissuade ranchers from grazing their cattle where they could hurt the tortoises.
Bundy claims his family has been on the land for centuries, and as a protest to having to pay a fee for raising cattle on his own land, he has refused to ever pay those fees. Fox News estimates that Bundy owes the federal government around $1.1 million in fees. Above you can hear Bundy discuss the Tortoise and it’s role in the area.
2. Government Agents Have Begun Rounding Up His Cattle
As a result of the unpaid fees and an ongoing legal battle between Bundy and the BLM, federal agents, including trained cowboys, have begun rounding up cattle on the land in question. RT reports that as of Monday, April 7, the government had collected 234 of Bundy’s 908 cattle. Above you can see videos of the government herding vehicles.
3. Bundy Says the Feds Are Armed With Automatic Weapons & Sniper Rifles
Critics warning about the militarization of America’s law enforcement agencies became very worried when Bundy, speaking to the press, claimed that the officers coming to seize his cattle were armed like soldiers. The RT quotes: “They’re carrying the same things a soldier would. Automatic weapons, sniper rifles, top communication, top surveillance equipment, lots of vehicles. It’s heavy soldier type equipment.”
His wife told the Free Beacon: “We’re surrounded. We’re estimating that there are over 200 armed BLM, FBI. We’ve got surveillance cameras at our house, they’re probably listening to me talk to you right now.” Above you can see a video of law enforcement with dogs and tasers facing off with protestors.
According to the Bundy Family, 37-year-old Dave Bundy was taking pictures of police when an estimated five agents threw him to the ground and arrested him for “failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands.”
Below is a news report on the unfolding situation.
4. Some Believe This Is a Government ‘Land Grab’ Over Oil
Commenters on articles about the BLM/Bundy Ranch situation, including this article, point out that there may be a deeper, more sinister reason for the government’s intervention on this specific land. Although the shale map above does not show any potential deposits near the ranch, government-wary conspiracy theorists suspect the effort on the part of the government to scare/tax ranchers way from the area may be the mineral wealth below the surface — to which the feds want unfettered access.
5. Nevada’s Governor Defends Bundy; the Standoff Is a Rallying Cry for States’ Rights Activists
On April 8, Nevada’s Republican Governor Brian Sandoval released the following statement in support of Bundy and condemning the actions of Bureau of Land Management:
Due to the roundup by the BLM, my office has received numerous complaints of BLM misconduct, road closures and other disturbances. I have recently met with state legislators, county officials and concerned citizens to listen to their concerns. I have expressed those concerns directly to the BLM.
Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution. To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately. No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.
The governor’s office has been receiving such a high outpouring of comments over the roundup, that calling the Governor’s office, leads you directly to the message “If you’re calling about the BLM cattle roundup, please press #1.”