The executive director of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association says his sources inside the federal government warn that Washington’s weekend retreat in a dispute over grazing land in Nevada was only a move to distract attention and diffuse tensions, because a raid on the family’s ranch still is planned.
And there probably would be violence involved, said Richard Mack, the former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz.
“I don’t think it would be possible” to launch a raid without violence, he told WND Monday. “I don’t think the Bundys would lie down and be taken.”
He cited the vow by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that the confrontation was far from over, despite the weekend’s retreat by armed gunmen working for federal agencies.
Reid on Monday told KRNV-TV in Reno: “It’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”
Cliven Bundy, who ranches in Clark County, and members of his extended family have grazed cattle on land there for more than a century. He stopped paying federal grazing fees years ago, contending his operation existed before the federal government was there.
But the standoff reached a boiling point one week ago as hundreds of federal agents and allies surrounded Bundy’s ranch and were faced with citizen resistance, both armed and unarmed.
The Associated Press said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided over the weekend to stop rounding up Bundy’s cattle and release animals agents already had seized.
BLM chief Neil Kornze said in a statement: “Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
Mack, a longtime sheriff, told WND that Reid’s statements are beyond the pale.
“That kind of stupidity, where he puts federal regulations and policies of bureaucrats ahead of a family in his state that has done no wrong or committed a crime,” Mack said.
He charged that it is Reid who is destroying his own state’s ranching industry as well as the U.S. Constitution. The sheriff chided the senator for making statements about abiding by laws.
“Isn’t that amazing? The biggest crook in Washington,” Mack said.
On the issue of a raid, he said: “That’s what we have heard. It’s not confirmed. People we had on the inside told us the BLM still is considering raiding the Bundy ranch. We’re going to keep in touch with them, protect them, pray for them.”
Details that are uncovered will be posted on the CSPOA website, he said.
Mack said his organization is part of an effort to save America.
“Yes, America is in deep, deep trouble. The good news is that there is hope,” Mack said. “We do not have to stand by and watch while America is destroyed from within. If our counties, cities, and states and all local officers keep their oaths to protect us from tyranny, we can win this battle to take our country back.”
As WND reported, an estimated 200 armed officers of the BLM had been deployed to Bundy’s property in Bunkerville, Nev., 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, charging the rancher has been in violation of a law that aims to protect an endangered desert tortoise. The BLM also said Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees to the federal government.
But Bundy found support from the governor and other prominent political leaders along with a host of protesters from other states, including fellow cattle ranchers and private armed militias.
A Montana militia member, Jim Lardy, told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas his group, Operation Mutual Aid, was prepared to “provide armed response.”
He said he was not afraid to shoot, if necessary.
“They have guns. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government,” Lardy said.
Other militia members were joining him, he said: “There is many more coming.”
Nevada’s Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said the federal government’s tactics allowed the tensions to nearly erupt in armed violence.
“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,” Sandoval said. “The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”
Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, told WND earlier that federal authorities had not been merely relocating the cattle but were engaged in actions that killed some animals.
“They are flying helicopters over the herd to chase them,” Ammon Bundy said. “It was over 90 degrees here today, and the cattle can’t run very far in this heat before collapsing. This is especially true for the young calves. We have a lot of them being born because it is springtime, and they don’t have the strength to keep up with their mothers when they are running. The cattle then become overheated and die.”
Cliven Bundy is the last rancher operating in Clark County, where he’s been grazing his cattle on a 600,000-acre portion of land managed by the BLM called Gold Butte. His family, whose ties to the land go back to the 1880s, has been engaged in a dispute since 1993 with the Bureau of Land Management over long-established cattle-grazing rights.
After years of wrangling in the courts, BLM last week secured a federal court order declaring Bundy’s herd to be “trespass cattle” and began removing the animals.
Ammon Bundy said he was with a group of about 50 people “peacefully protesting the removal of the cattle” when “suddenly, 14 units with Rangers came off the mountain – 13 of them were armed ranger vehicles with two rangers per unit.”
He said the protesters went over to see what was in a dump truck, “because we were afraid this might have been a rendering vehicle, and we wanted to know what was in the back of the truck.”
The rangers got out of their vehicles and the conflict escalated, he said.
“Things got pretty ugly for awhile. They threw a 65-year-old woman on the ground, they tased me twice and they had dogs out there.”