Shortly after Bundy’s remarks about African-Americans being better off as slaves, US Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who previously has stated his support for Bundy, says through a spokesperson that he
completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.
Another supporter, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who like Heller has expressed his support for Bundy, now states:
His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.
Additionally, the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity Nevada deletes all of its material posted in support of Bundy from its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
US Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), who has called Bundy and his followers “domestic terrorists,” slams Bundy for his allegedly racist remarks and his position on grazing fees:
I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met — men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families. By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers. Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist. But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, once a vocal Bundy supporter, now accuses Bundy of making “repugnant” racist remarks, and says he is giving Democrats the opportunity to paint all Republicans as racist. Hannity describes himself as “pissed off” about Bundy’s remarks, and says:
His comments are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me.
Bundy says that he does not feel “abandoned” by Hannity and Fox News:
I don’t think I’ve been abandoned. I think maybe they just misunderstood me a little bit. But I think Fox and I, I think Hannity and I are just right on. I have no doubt he would re-support me if he understood really what’s in my heart, and I think he does understand me.
MSNBC conservative host Joe Scarborough says that conservatives who supported Bundy are now “exposed” in light of Bundy’s comments.
Barry Weller of the Apache County, Arizona Board of Supervisors says that Bundy’s actions are entirely within the law. Referring to a Nevada court case won by Wayne Hage, who argued that he had the right to graze his cows on federal land because it was within two miles of water sources he had developed, Weller says:
The Bundys and the Hages are standing on what’s called their water rights and their grazing rights [which] were pre-existing in territorial times, long before the government took over and these states became states and these water rights are mentioned, and any federal law or policy act that comes thereafter is always stated, ‘subject to pre-existing rights.’ So, when people say they’re not legally doing what they’re doing, they are. They are doing what they’re supposed to be doing: standing for their rights.
Instead, Weller says, the federal government was engaged in what he calls a “criminal shakedown” for payment:
That was absolutely deadly force. … Several cattle were killed as they rounded them up and pulled them into the BLM pens. It’s just a devastation of force.
Appearing on Jones’ radio show, Bundy says the government intends to “take him down,” but he will “do whatever it takes” to fight back. Jones says of the standoff:
This could be how the shot heard round the world happens in this case or others that are happening. If they ever fire on innocent peaceful people trying to take stolen cattle and act like the mercenaries they are, this could turn into 1776 very quickly.
Bundy agrees, saying that he is “not going to stand it, I’m going to stand as long as it takes.”
US Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) issues a statement expressing his “great disappointment with the way that this situation is being handled.” Heller says he told BLM director Neil Kornze “very clearly that law-abiding Nevadans must not be penalized by an over-reaching BLM” and adds:
I remain extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electrical infrastructure. I will continue to closely monitor this situation, and urge the BLM to make the necessary changes in order to preserve Nevadans’ constitutional rights.
Federal judge Larry Hicks warns Bundy not to “physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation.” Hicks also restates the no-trespassing order against Bundy issued by the US District Court, noting that Bundy continues to graze his cattle on public lands in defiance of court orders.
The BLM sends Bundy a list of the cattle seen grazing on public lands, and bills him nearly $330,000 for trespassing and investigation fees.
The US Department of Interior offers to round up Bundy’s cattle and sell them, with Bundy receiving all of the profits. Bundy rejects the offer.
Bundy tells a reporter he has “fired” the BLM and will continue grazing his cattle on the federal allotment no matter what the BLM says.
Bundy says he does not recognize the federal government, and will continue to graze his cattle on federal land regardless of what actions federal agencies may take. He says he will resist any effort by government officials to remove his cattle from federal lands.
The BLM notifies Bundy that if he does not remove his cattle and fencing from federal lands, the government will do it and charge him the costs. In response, he tells the agency that he will do whatever he deems necessary to protect what he calls his “unalienable forage, water and access rights”.
Bundy joins some fifty ranchers in a courtroom protest of rancher Cliff Gardner’s conviction of illegally grazing his cattle on federal land. The protesters say that states’ rights render federal law irrelevant, and say that Gardner’s conviction is meaningless. Some of them wear white wigs to emulate Revolutionary War patriots. Bundy says,
This court has tried to intimidate the citizens of Nevada by attempting to make an example of Cliff Gardner.
Bundy says that President Clinton’s establishment of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is an illegal federal land grab. His grandparents settled in the Parashant area of Arizona in 1877. Bundy says,
The terrible thing about it is there is private property, customs and lifestyles [at stake].
Virtually all of the 1.1 million acres of land in the monument area was federally managed land before it was designated as a federally protected monument area. The monument designation completes the protection of the entire Grand Canyon area, and renders it off limits for ranching, mining, oil/gas exploration, and development.
The BLM again decides not to forcibly impound Bundy’s cattle, and instead begins to formally investigate and document Bundy’s “willful trespass” on the designated land. By 2012, it will have documented 199 incidents of trespass, from a photograph of a single cow to the construction of an illegally built reservoir.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denies Bundy’s appeal of a federal ruling finding him guilty of trespassing and failing to pay his grazing fees. The court says,
Bundy has not shown why he could not or would not comply with the Court’s order [to cease grazing].
The court fines Bundy for willful trespass.
The Las Vegas police tell the BLM that they believe armed ranchers are planning a standoff in case the BLM moves to impound Bundy’s cattle. The BLM does not attempt to impound Bundy’s cattle or to make him pay his outstanding debt.
Bundy and some of his fellow ranchers say that the federal government has no rights to the 87% of the land it owns in that state. Bundy and his associates say that Nevada’s state rights invalidate federal rights. An area resident says that federal laws and court decisions mean nothing, and calls their resistance “a revolutionary war.” Bundy says:
I’m still saying the state of Nevada owns that land, and the federal government has been an encroacher. I’m not moving my cattle. We have … rights.
He says his personal rights to the land trump federal law, and that his rights derive from his contention that his Mormon ancestors were using the land well before the federal government claimed authority over it.
Tensions between the BLM and Nevada ranchers who refuse to pay fees or comply with regulations escalates. A small bomb goes off in the US Forest Service office in Carson City. Forest Service spokesperson Erin O’Connor says,
If it was sent as a message, we got it.
Federal workers travel the area in pairs and stay in contact with their offices for fear of being assaulted. Forest Service official Jim Nelson says:
I’m concerned about the safety of my employees. They can’t go to church in these communities without having someone say something. Their kids are harassed in school. Stores and restaurants are not serving them.
Nelson says that the government manages the land for the best use of ranchers and everyone else, and that unattended, free-ranging cows that graze the land illegally despoil the protected springs and stream banks. Bundy says:
They’ve taken their authority and abused it. I’m not being regulated to death anymore.
Bundy, still refusing to pay his grazing fees to the federal government, sends a payment check to Clark County instead. The county returns his check, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
The BLM offers a ten-year grazing permit to Bundy, written to alleviate the impact of his cattle on the endangered desert tortoise habitat by capping his allowance of grazing cattle to 150 head. Bundy refuses to accept the permit and continues to graze his cattle on the Bunkerville allotment, which by now consists of over 10,486 acres of National Park Service land at the northern end of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. He also stops paying his federal grazing fees (approximately $2/head) in what he calls a “protest” against the permit. The Washington Post reports,
Cliven Bundy, whose family homesteaded his ranch in 1877 and who accuses the government of a “land grab,” are digging in for a fight and say they will not willingly sell their grazing privileges to create another preserve.
The BLM revokes his permit to graze, and begins closely tracking his delinquent grazing fees. The BLM is charging Bundy $1.35 per month per head of cattle to graze on federal land.
The desert tortoise is officially listed as a threatened species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Among the land designated as a tortoise habitat is the federally managed area near Bunkerville, Nevada, where Bundy has been grazing his cattle for years.
Bundy applies for a transfer of his father’s permit to graze cattle on federally managed land. Bundy is already grazing his cattle illegally on the land. The BLM denies the permit, citing unpaid delinquent fees. Bundy continues to graze his cattle on the federal land.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy begins paying grazing fees in order to use publicly owned lands for his cattle.
Rancher David Bundy is found to be delinquent on his grazing fees to the BLM. He will eventually pay what he owes.
David Bundy, the father of future rancher Cliven Bundy, applies for permission to graze cattle on federally owned land in the Gold Butte area north of Las Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grants the request.
David Bundy brings his family, including his two-year old son Cliven, from Bundyville, Arizona and buys a 160-acre ranch in Clark County, Nevada from Raoul and Ruth Leavitt. Water rights are transferred to Bundy’s land, but do not impact the federally managed land surrounding the ranch.