(Editor’s Note: We are pleased to offer this brief selection of The Battle of Bunkerville: Victory Over Oppression, by Weldon Travis, a participant in the 2014 Bundy Ranch Standoff. Last week the first of the trials concerning the United States v. Cliven Bundy et al. concluded. Tomorrow the jury will resume their deliberations to determine if the first six men charged in the case will be found guilty or innocent. The following article has been edited in accordance with Liberty Nation’s editorial policies. Readers are welcome to download the report in its original form and in its entirety here.)
This is a continuing tale ~ my observations, conclusions, thoughts ~ of Cliven Bundy and his struggle against the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Clark County, Nevada, sixty miles from Las Vegas and ten from Mesquite, bordering Arizona. I began writing it right after Easter Sunday, 2014. It may contain errors. Your comments are invited.
A new friend with whom I shared a morning cup of coffee is a major contractor and developer, much of it around Las Vegas. He was one of seven snipers set up on Interstate 15, a divided four-lane highway which was totally shut down. As he trained his scoped AR-15 toward the stand-off confrontation, watching developments, some Nevada Highway Patrolmen behind him also stood to watch. My friend wondered: If the shooting started, what would they do, who would be shooting whom? Shortly, they asked him if it would be okay to open one lane each way. Preposterous, I know.
Later, one patrolman exclaimed, “What could we do?” (if anything, about the situation) implying their lack of direction under very confusing circumstances.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie finally attempted to defuse the situation to avoid another Ruby Ridge or Waco-type incident, asking for a private meeting with Bundy. Cliven insisted that their conversation be open to all present, now numbering in the hundreds, as Gillespie laid out the proposed conditions for de-escalation. Cliven listened attentively, then told the Sheriff that he had one hour to have the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents disarm and depart. Gillespie, himself, had that same authority but chose to not exercise it. As zero hour approached, Cliven asked if the hour limitation should be extended; a resounding “NO!” was the citizens’ answer.
Gillespie’s S.W.A.T. team quickly covered the withdrawal (“strategic advance to the rear”) of the BLM agents. One hundred and forty-two BLM SUV’s (most containing two or more personnel) and including maybe six ATVs withdrew to cheers, jeers, fist-pumping and one-finger salutes. Red Bear, the fourth Great-grandson of Geronimo, may have shouted “Ja-LAN-Kah” in encouragement to perform a solo and salacious impossible act.
We had originally intended to be there during the increasing tensions but regretfully had “stood down” as the situation cooled. Then U. S. Senator “Dirty Harry” Reid infamously threatened that “This isn’t over yet.” It’s been reported his son, Rory, was poised to gain from Chinese solar power installations on the land. There are also minerals and/or earth compounds essential to the creation of rocket fuel. And so, Stewart Rhodes, Founder of the Oath Keepers, issued an urgent call for reinforcements.
We had arrived in our motorhome on Friday evening before Easter, having traveled fourteen hours straight. A temporary “victory” celebration was in full swing, with live entertainment and tasty victuals for maybe seven hundred people.
Local Resident Deputy Andy Caldwell, volunteer Firefighters and EMT’s, and son Ryan Bundy choked up the parking lot for an hour as Irene, the love, and light of my life, livened up her rescuers inside the ambulance. Stabilized, finally, and with the understanding that she was simply dehydrated, we formally declined further treatment or hospitalization.
Saturday was filled with:
- A press conference by Cliven and elder son, Ammon;
- An exhortation by founder Stewart Rhodes to join or reaffirm the Oath Keepers’ pledge and a warning of needs to respond to other areas soon;
- A rousing speech by terminally ill Mike Vanderboegh of the Sipsey Street Irregulars. He graphically and humorously punctuated his talk by relaying that his grandfather had cautioned him to never disturb a Michigan wolverine as he had done, and which had nearly emasculated him. The Federales had clearly provoked We the People. That phrase had been erected maybe 80 feet high atop two flagpoles near “our” bridge.
- Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore defending the Bundy’s stance while acknowledging the grazing fees due. However, Cliven had offered to pay all grazing fees to Clark County or the State of Nevada but both entities had refused to accept.
- A constitutional Sheriff from Indiana, taking vacation time off, telling us that others of the CSPOA (Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association) would be rotating through indefinitely. That organization was founded by former Sheriff Richard Mack, Graham County, Arizona. I had the privilege of meeting him in Grass Valley near our home last year.
- The late evening arrival of the rotund Don Wood, riding a Screaming Eagle Harley-like homemade motorcycle, with a video camera on his helmet, heavy canvas pants decorated with many patches, his arms covered with meaningful tattoos, his bike packed and stacked for weeks on the road. I opened our door and shouted out to him to turn off his camera and come join us. Turns out he’s the rolling field rep for Palmetto Moonshine of South Carolina, the first legal “shine” cooker since Prohibition! He’s a gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful giant of a man, surprisingly well educated and very much aware of global circumstances. Y’ just never know . . .
All day long, more and more militias arrived and set up outposts. They came from Alaska, Montana, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas, New Hampshire and Utah. Some had quit their jobs, not knowing when they might return home to their families. Sounds like our forefathers, right? They were young, old and in-betwixt, in great physical condition or old greybeards with pot-bellies and suspenders. Most were veterans, determined to protect the rights for which they had fought previously.
Easter Sunday was truly a Resurrection, one that affirmed that our nation was having a well-deserved rebirth. Ryan Bundy opened the day on the flatbed trailer which served as a stage, with a benediction; his daughter sharing her thoughts, too.
Next spoke his son, the boy on the mule, wearing his best go-to meeting-church Western attire. He, too, was very emotionally expressive. After all, he too had stared death in the eye bravely, side by side with his father and uncles.
As he spoke, militiamen were practicing their firearms skills across the Virgin River, but Ryan believed that the Lord would understand and forgive the audible intrusion.
Family members departed for their regular LDS services in Mesquite, inviting one and all to join them or to stay and share with those who remained. Several others spoke emotionally and gratefully about how privileged they felt to be present.
Thirty-five ranches have gone by the wayside in Clark County, including that of a Cherokee Chieftain whose Social Security checks have been garnished for years to pay his past-due grazing fees and legal costs. Cliven is the “Last Rancher Standing” and later wrote a book with that title. What is wrong here? It continues in Texas along the Red River, which changes boundaries with the water flow, but the Federal government ends up mysteriously “owning” 90,000 more acres.
This is about much, very much more than saving the desert tortoises (which were rounded up in “Bundy Territory” then euthanized in Las Vegas); more than the spotted owls in Oregon (which ruined the timber industry); more than the smelt rescue in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, which decimated the orchards and vegetable crops; and more than the formally declared “endangered species” red-toed frogs in Rough and Ready.
“The duty of a True Patriot is to Protect his Country from its Government.” and “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” ~
— Thomas Paine