The Bureau of Land Management announced that it would not enforce a court order to round up cows owned by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, effectively ending the siege at the southern Nevada ranch.
“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.
“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.
The roundup began April 5, following lengthy court proceedings dating back to 1993, federal officials said. Federal officers began impounding the first lot of cows last weekend, and Bundy responded by inviting supporters onto his land to protest the action.
“It’s not about cows, it’s about freedom,” Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“People are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power,” Bundy’s wife, Carol Bundy told ABC News.
By Sunday, April 6, one of Bundy’s sons, Dave Bundy, was taken into custody for refusing to disperse and resisting arrest, while hundreds of other protesters, some venturing from interstate, gathered along the road few miles from Bundy’s property in solidarity. Dave Bundy was later released.
A spokesman for the Bundy encampment told ABC News roughly 300 protesters had assembled for the protest, while a BLM representative estimated there were around 100 people.
“We want a peaceful protest, but we also want our voices heard,” said Cliven Bundy’s sister, Chrisie Marshall Bundy.
Victory for Bundy? Not exactly. Perhaps the government will now do what they should have done in the first place instead of descending on an American citizen’s property with 200 armed agents.
If the issue is monetary — Bundy not paying grazing fees — then there is absolutely no reason the government can’t sit down with Bundy’s lawyer at a neutral site and negotiate while not under threat of a gun. Even if the issue is that poor, picked upon Desert Tortoise, accommodations can be made as well. The turtles don’t need 600,000 acres to thrive — but neither does Bundy need 600,000 acres to feed his cows.
When government chooses to intimidate instead of negotiate in good faith, they should expect this kind of resistance. I’m not sure it’s necessarily a good thing for citizens to threaten government officials, but the situation would never have gotten to this point if the government had treated its people as citizens instead of subjects to be bullied and pushed around.
The BLM may wait for things to die down and then return to enforce the court order. If they try the same tactics, it’s likely they’ll meet the same resistance. “It’s about the freedom of America,” said another of Bundy’s sisters, Margaret Houston. “We have to stand up and fight.” If the only thing they accomplish in the end is put the government on notice that citizens won’t sit still for this kind of bullying, something positive will have come out of this mess.