An ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and Nevada ranchers is finally over Saturday after a week of armed protest and scuffles between demonstrators and government agents.
The Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, has stopped removing rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle from disputed land. The BLM claims Bundy hasn’t paid grazing fees on the land. The farmer says his family has used the land since 1870.
According to the BLM, Bundy owes the government nearly $1 million in grazing fees and has refused multiple court orders to remove his animals — orders dating back to the early 1990s.
After the BLM began rounding up the cattle in question earlier this week, protesters flocked to the Bundy ranch to rally against the seizure and protect the family, who refused to budge.
“Our land has been occupied by a foreign government. And I say foreign because we don’t know who these people are.” (Via KIVI)
The protest brought supporters from out of state and even attracted some armed militia groups, like the Southern Nevada Militia. The group's leader Brand Thornton told KLAS they were there to protect the Bundys.
"We want to get ourselves between this family and these federal agents. We have pretty strong feelings that this could erupt in violence."
And violence did in fact erupt, as cell phone video from Wednesday showed BLM officers shoving protesters and pulling out tasers. In the scuffle, Bundy’s son Ammon was tased while his other son, Dave, was arrested and released earlier in the week.
After the confrontation, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement criticizing the BLM’s actions. "No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans."
But U.S. Representative Steven Horsford, from Nevada, disagrees, arguing the BLM was just enforcing federal court orders that Bundy had ignored.
With the BLM deciding to back down, all 277 of the impounded cattle will now be returned to the Bundy ranch.