clivenbbdCliven Bundy, a rancher in Clark County, Nev., has been engaged in a long and strenuous court battle with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over his stance in refusing to pay fees for the right to graze on a ranch property that has been run by his family for centuries. Officers armed with machine guns and sniper rifles surrounded Bundy’s residence in an effort to forcibly remove his cattle.

This is one legal battle that has been ongoing for over two decades,

“What’s happened the last two weeks, the United States government, the bureaus are getting this army together and they’re going to get their job done and they’re going to prove two things. They’re going to prove they can do it, and they’re gonna prove that they have unlimited power, and that they control the policing power over this public land. That’s what they’re trying to prove.” stated Bundy.

With automatic weapons, snipers, high-quality surveillance equipment and more, the state isn’t taking the issue lightly. Cliven’s wife has stated that at least 200 armed agents from the BLM and FBI had been stationed around her property over this incident. Authorities confirm a military presence on the property, but dispute the number of agents as being lower. There are some who also praise the authorities for their actions on the Bundy property, believing that the property isn’t rightfully theirs.

clivenbundhhThe Bureau of Land Management decided in 1998 that over 180,000 acres of the Gold Butte (including Cliven’s property) was “off-limits” for the preservation and care of the critical desert tortoise population. Five years prior to this, Cliven Bundy had lost his grazing permit for refusing to pay fees for the land that he claims has been in his family’s ownership since the 1870s. The federal fee is $1.35 per animal unit mount, or the amount of forage needed per animal each month.

“We’ve tried to do this through the legal and we’ve tried to do it through the political, and what we’re at right now, I guess we’re going to have to try to stand,.. We the people have to stand on the ground and get our state sovereignty back, and also take some liberty and freedoms back to where we have at least access to this land.” stated Bundy.

Cliven insists that this type of forceful action from the federal agents is uncalled for, and that his situation falls under state law, as he is a producer of a commodity which should be governed under state law. In a statement the Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R.) had this to say over the BLM attempting to enact “First Amendment areas”:

“I have advised the Bureau of Land Management that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately,… No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.” Sandoval stated.

Bundy is just one in a sea of many who have been aggressively targeted by federal authorities over seemingly trivial matters, and goes hand in hand with an increase in police militarization.