Rancher Prevails in 'New Ruby Ridge' Battle as Feds Back Down

Image: Rancher Prevails in 'New Ruby Ridge' Battle as Feds Back Down Rancher Cliven Bundy speaks after the Bureau of Land Management announced it was ceasing its roundup of Bundy's cattle. (Landov)

Saturday, 12 Apr 2014 08:14 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Bureau of Land Management said Saturday it will stop the roundup of cattle owned by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

By Saturday afternoon, witnesses said, BLM had released all the cattle it had seized in the dispute over grazing on federal land.

Cattle were spotted being led through a wash under Interstate-15 near Bunkerville, Nev.,  and back onto the grazing land where Bundy's herds have grazed for decades.

Federal land managers confirmed they released all 400 head of cattle they had rounded up from Bundy.

The BLM says the animals have been illegally grazing on public lands for 20 years.

The announcement came a after rangers started gathering the animals from land near Gold Butte, Nev.

The agency says it is concerned about the safety of its employees and the public.

Earlier this week, BLM officers and supporters of the Bundy family were involved in a scuffle. Cliven Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy, was shot with a stun gun twice by federal agents. Another woman said she was thrown to the ground by an officer.

With Bundy supporters pouring in from around the country, safety concerns began to grow.

BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

"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 concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," BLM Director Neil Kornze said, reports ABC News.

"We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner," he said.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie brokered a deal to end the roundup, reports CBS News Las Vegas.

Tea party groups and Libertarians had joined in the widening battle in recent days.

Elected officials in states ranging from Arizona to Washington were rushing to Nevada on Thursday night after watching a startling video of an angry clash between protesters, including private militias, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The 10-minute video showed Bundy's son Ammon being tasered and Cliven's sister Margaret Bundy-Houston, a cancer survivor, being tackled to the ground by a ranger.

"Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me," said Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend, a tea party Republican who drove from Phoenix to take part in a protest rally in Bunkerville near Bundy's 160-acre ranch. "It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don't recognize my country at this point."

Story continues below video.



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Townsend is associated with a patriot group known as the Oath Keepers, which advocates that its members, mostly current and former U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials, disobey any orders that they are given if they believe they violate the Constitution.

The Arizona lawmaker told the Review-Journal that Bundy "may be in the wrong as far as the law is concerned," but the manner in which the roundup is being handled is "un-American."

The video showed law enforcement officers holding yellow tasers and barking dogs as BLM trucks involved in rounding-up Bundy's cattle attempted to drive through State Route 170 into Bunkerville

Nevada Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore called the footage "horrifying," and said that she had been twice to the protest site in a show of support, as well as to "protect our Nevadans and keep the peace."

Fiore said, "I'm highly offended by the feds coming in as aggressively as they have.
But officials for the BLM have claimed that the high level of security is necessary due to the ongoing violent threats from the Bundy clan and their supporters."

BLM has shut down a 1,200-square-mile area while hired cowboys round up 900 cattle "trespassing on federal land that has been deemed a protected habitat for an endangered desert tortoise.

Although federal authorities claim that Bundy has been illegally allowing his cattle to graze on 600,000 acres of federal property for 20 years, the rancher says the land belongs to the state, and it's been used by his family to graze cattle since the late 1800s.

Bundy has compared the protest to the 1992 standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the 1993 raid on David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, which ended with dozens of deaths.

"Mr. Bundy is breaking the law, and he has been breaking the law for 20 years," said BLM spokeswoman Amy Lueders. "He owes the taxpayers of the United States over $1 million."

BLM rangers had rounded up more than 350 head of Bundy's cattle by Thursday.

The Oath Keepers' Facebook page instructed members planning to join the protest to bring cameras and "film everything but not to wear military camouflage or openly carry rifles," according to the Review-Journal.

"Any rifles people may have with them need to stay in the vehicles," the post said.

Fearing that the showdown could turn into an even more dangerous situation, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval warned, "Although tensions remain high, escalation of current events could have negative, long-lasting consequences that can be avoided."

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