The ongoing standoff between the Bundy family and federal Bureau of Land Management officers continues to drag on in Clark County, Nev. As Western Journalism has previously reported, Cliven Bundy, who has refused to pay federal fees to allow his cattle to graze on land that has been in his family for generations, is now being targeted by agents.
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One of his sons was reportedly taken down by a police dog and arrested for standing near the ranch and recording footage of his family’s cattle being rounded up by the agents. The agency has spent nearly $1 million to pay cowboys to round up hundreds of head of cattle and remove them from the ranch.
Reports indicate another son was hit by a Taser blast by officers as he voiced support for his father. Witnesses say BLM officers threw Cliven’s sister to the ground during another altercation.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval this week expressed his disapproval of so-called ‘First Amendment areas’ set up adjacent to the ranch, outside of which any protesters were subject to police action. Since then, the Bundys have received support from a much wider range of activists – from legislators and sheriffs from a number of Western states to militia members dedicated to protecting the family’s freedom against the perceived oppression of the federal agency.
Militia members from Montana and Utah have already arrived at the ranch and indicate plenty more are headed that way. Operation Mutual Aid, a coalition of state militias, is planning a coordinated effort of support, according to West Mountain Rangers member Ryan Payne.
“They all tell me they are in the process of mobilizing as we speak,” he said earlier this week.
Payne said the county should prepare for “a band of soldiers” responding to the standoff, explaining militias are necessary to be “the barrier between the oppressed and the tyrants.”
Another member of the militia, Jim Lardy, explained that their effort has nothing to do with violence but protecting the Bundys and their property.
“We’re not anti-government,” he declared. “We’re anti-corrupt government.”
Social media users have increasingly expressed their support for a family that has become a symbol for many of an overly intrusive federal government.
As for elected officials, Sandoval is far from the only – or most outspoken – defender of the Bundy family. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican and rancher, spoke directly to BLM Director Neil Kornze regarding the mishandling of the situation.
Legislators and law enforcement officials from various other states have also expressed disdain for the BLM’s actions with many vowing to make the trip to Clark County in a show of support for the Bundys.
Arizona State Rep. Kelly Townsend explained the standoff “reminded me of Tiananmen Square.”
She is one of several who say they will stand with the family in protest.
“I don’t recognize my country at this point,” she said.
“I told him very clearly that law-abiding Nevadans must not be penalized by an over-reaching BLM,” he said.
The elder Bundy has vowed to stand his ground in the attempt to drive him off of his land.
“We own this land,” he said, indicating that in years past, he “used to have 52 neighboring ranchers. I’m the last man standing. How come? Because the BLM regulated these people off the land and out of business.”