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“”We're here to take our state back and act like we’re sovereign citizens[.]
Cliven "Y'all Qaida" Bundy (1946–) is a rancher from southeastern Nevada who was involved in a twenty-year-old legal dispute with the United States federal government over unpaid grazing fees of cattle on government-owned land which ultimately culminated in an armed standoff in March 2014. He became a hero to the lunatic fringe virtually overnight. But he subsequently began to mutter about how blacks were better off under slavery, but by then he had already been lionized as a kindly old gentleman gallantly fighting back against 'the system', and that image stuck.
Bundy believes that the U.S. government does not have a right to control the land on which he grazes his cows, arguing that:
“”[...] at the moment of Statehood land inside the new State is no longer U.S. Territory, and no longer does U.S. Congress or any of the federal agencies have authority to dispose of the land or make any rules or regulations respecting to it.
|—Cliven Bundy railing against the federal government on his personal blog|
Bundy has further argued that "he is a citizen of Nevada and not a citizen of a territory of the United States." The United States, and Nevada, beg to differ, as that's not how US laws work. Not even close. The U.S. government states that it obtained the land where Bundy illegally grazes his cattle in 1848 as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.[note 1]
In February 2016 Bundy was arrested by the FBI, facing numerous felony charges over his past antics. However, these were dismissed on December 20, 2017, and later was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on August 6th, 2020.
Bundy stopped paying his grazing lease in 1993. Since then, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM[note 2]) has been trying to have Bundy remove his illegally-pastured cattle from federal land. This happened after the BLM initiated conservation efforts to try to protect the desert tortoise in designated areas, mostly by re-purchasing previous grazing permits. Bundy responded to this by ranging his cattle pretty much wherever he wanted on BLM-held land.
Militia movement supporters
“”We did some research online with PsyID today, and found that there’s about 10 or 15 percent of the people who are talking about this online that are truly frightening. They don’t care what the facts are. They just want a fight.
|—Glenn Beck comes to fear his own creation.|
Some 1000 members of various right-wing militias from across the country came out in support of Bundy. Some of these were snipers positioned to shoot at federal authorities. The courageous militiamen concocted a plan to place women in front of the snipers so they would be shot at first, to increase sympathy for their cause.
Operation Mutual Aid Militia, founded in 2014, provided over 150 armed militiamen for Bundy's defense.
After the standoff ended in their favor, the militias declared victory and began using the event to aggressively recruit new members. One group, Arizona State Militia, claims to have received more than 100 new applicants in 72 hours.
This did not necessarily mean he got away with it. In January 2016, his sons
Ammo Ammon and Ryan, as well as some buddies, decided to escalate the wingnuttery by taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon (which they had no claim over) in protest of two other ranchers (Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven) getting arrested on charges of arson. They wanted the feds to give back all the land to the "people", never mind that the people already own the land. Cliven himself eventually flew up to Oregon to support his kids, but he was rather quickly arrested in a Portland airport by the FBI once they'd caught word. At this time of writing, he has been indicted by a federal grand jury on numerous felony charges, and has been denied bail. The standoff itself mostly ended not in a blaze of patriotic glory, but with an FBI blockade and most of the militia surrendering save Lavoy "Tarpman" Finicum, who waved a pistol at FBI agents and was thus shot to death.
The incident with Bundy has also revealed the utter fucked-upness of American race politics and policing. His supporters advocate for the open carry of firearms both at home and at the ranch that openly threatened federal agents and forced them to back off. After this incident, numerous African-American open-carry advocates began to demonstrate how differently they were treated while openly carrying firearms (even if they weren't threatening anyone)—including a few videos showing officers drawing their weapons and ordering the advocates onto the ground while threatening to fire, rather than just having a polite, fucking decent conversation if an advocate who was white did the very same. To make matters worse, during the same news cycle multiple African-Americans (including the 12-year-old Tamir Rice) were shot and killed in public by police while carrying toy guns, all without having the chance to do so much as obey the cops' orders.
In a few stopped clock moments, however, Ammon Bundy has voiced his support for Black Lives Matter (not to be confused with the Bureau of Land Management, which he has a grudge against). Bundy also (surprisingly) criticized Donald Trump's Great Wall of America, as well as the historically-unpopular president's uncharitable views on immigrants. These statements make the Bundys one of the few right-leaning libertarians who despise "Big government" consistently, and with no hypocrisy.
- "The public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the US following the Mexican-American War (United States vs. Gardner, 107 F.3d at 1318, United States vs. Cliven Bundy, 1998).
- No, not that one
- One Year Later, Cliven Bundy and His Right-Wing Militia Are Still Trying to Seize Public Lands
- "A Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side"
- "Rebellious Nevada rancher's slavery remarks dim Republican support"
- Horsford, Steven, "Cliven Bundy and the dangers of fueling extremism", WaPo 7.18.14. Horsford: "At this point, Hannity and Co. washed their hands of the story. They had their anti-government victory, and now they needed to distance themselves from Bundy’s racism. Unfortunately, it was too late to truly pull the plug. The fringe had long since taken encouragement from all the supportive coverage."
- Feds Retaliate against the Bundy Ranch and the Southern Nevada People, Cliven Family Blog
- A rancher's armed battle against the US government is standard libertarian fare
- United States of America vs. Cliven Bundy, 1998
- United States vs. Cliven Bundy,2012
- Williamson, Kevin D., "The Case for a Little Sedition", National Review 4.15.14. Williamson: "The law was against Mohandas Gandhi, too, when he was tried for sedition!" Meanwhile in Reality: if they were black leftists doing the same thing they would likely have been slaughtered by now.
- Richardson, Valerie, "Cliven Bundy Still Grazing His Cattle on Disputed Land", WaPo 12.29.14.
- Everything you need to know about the long fight between Cliven Bundy and the federal government
- Glenn Beck Warns Americans Against Falling in With the ‘Right’s Version of Occupy Wall Street’
- SPLC report: Bundy ranch standoff was highly coordinated, reflecting threat of larger far-right militia movement
- After Nevada ranch stand-off, emboldened militias ask: where next?
- Sheriff on strategy to put women at front lines
- Operation Mutual Aid Militia TRAC
- Meet The Militia Rushing To Cliven Bundy’s Defense
- The Bundy Family’s Odd Mormon Connection, Explained by Jack Jenkins (Jan 4, 2016 3:03 pm) Think Progress.
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy arrested by FBI in Portland
- Cliven Bundy Indicted by Federal Grand Jury
- Ammon Bundy, other protesters arrested in Oregon; LaVoy Finicum killed
- Report: LaVoy Finicum, armed with a handgun, reached for his waistband just before he was shot
- Here's What Happens When a Black Man Open Carries a Gun
- VIDEO: The Difference Between a Black Man and a White Man Open Carrying An AR-15 Legally
- Man Allegedly Shot Dead By Police In Wal-Mart For Carrying BB Gun He Picked Up In The Toy Aisle
- Cops release video of officer fatally shooting 12-year-old
- Cliven Bundy rebukes Trump over attack on migrants: 'We should have a heart'