Gettin' rid of the varmints
Citing safety concerns, federal agents are withdrawing from the Nevada cattle ranch where they had engaged in a week-long showdown with Cliven Bundy, a 67-year-old rancher who claimed the federal government had no right to tax and regulate property his family has owned since 1880.
The Bureau of Land Management had dispatcher agents, helicopters and four-wheelers to remove several hundred of Bundy’s cattle that they claimed were encroaching on federal lands–and may have posed a threat to an endangered tortoise habitat. [Didact: Seriously? Tortoises matter more than people and their rights under Constitutional law? WOW.] A BLM spokesperson also claimed that Bundy owed over $1 million dollars in fines that he accrued since the early 1990s.
Bundy and his family challenged BLM’s authority to “manage my ranch out of business,” he said, according to ABC News.
Federal policies had starved out all the other cattle ranchers in the area, and Bundy saw his dispute with BLM as a challenge to destructive federal power.
“People are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power,” said Bundy’s wife, Carol, in a statement.
Last week, government agents descended upon the property, which is 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. They set up a blockade on the road leading to the ranch, and clashed with several hundred protesters. Tasers were used on at least one person: Bundy’s son, Ammon. Another son, Dave, was briefly taken into custody by authorities.
The establishment of a designated “First Amendment zone,” drew criticism from many people, including Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican. Citizens’ free speech rights were protected only when they were standing in the First Amendment zone.
“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,” said Sandoval in a statement.
But on Saturday, BLM decided not to remove the cattle, citing concerns that the operation was endangering the lives of both federal agents and civilians.