Cliven Bundy, Patrolling Militia Groups in Nevada, and Sovereign Citizens

BY ELAINE MAGLIARO

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article titled Sean Hannity, Jon Stewart, and That Racist, Gun Totin’ Welfare Queen Cliven Bundy. I thought I’d write a follow-up post after reading about what has been going on in Bunkerville, Nevada, with some of the out-of-state militia groups that gathered there in order to support Bundy with his standoff against the Bureau of Land Management. It appears that those militia groups have become a cause of concern for some residents, workers, and businesses in the area surrounding Bundy’s ranch.

Militias’ Ongoing Presence in Nevada Creates Fear and Friction

 

KLAS-TV/News NOW (Las Vegas) reported on April 29th that hotels in Mesquite had suffered financial losses of more than $100,000 due to concerns about armed militia groups patrolling in the area. News NOW learned that Mesquite police were investigating death threats made to hotel workers following a bomb threat earlier in April.

Evidently, the threats multiplied as armed militia groups continued to pour into the Bunkerville area. One city leader in Mesquite said that “the entire Holiday Inn Express was evacuated for hours following a bomb threat related to the Bundy saga…” News NOW obtained a police report which showed that the Holiday Inn Express had received at least nine threatening telephone calls after the hotel allowed BLM rangers to stay there. Hotel workers were told to kick out the BLM or they “would not be standing in the morning.” One hotel worker, who didn’t want to go on camera, claimed that he was told by an anonymous militia member that he would be “dragged out in the parking lot and shot”.

Representative Steven Horsford, D-NV, Asks Sheriff to into Complaints about Militiamen

“We are not a playground for armed militias,” Rep. Steven Horsford said during a meeting with area leaders about the militia. Horsford said he had been contacted by residents of his district who were concerned about the armed militia groups from out of state who were still present in their area. Horsford was told by residents that militia groups had set up checkpoints where residents must prove they live in the area before they are allowed to pass…” He was also told that they had set up a “persistent presence” along federal highways, and state and county roads.

Horsford wrote a letter to Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie asking him “to look into complaints that militiamen had been present in Bunkerville-area schools and churches and had set up armed checkpoints on state, federal and county roads, seeking proof of residency from motorists.” Horsford said in his letter, “We must respect individual constitutional liberties, but residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia. Residents have expressed their desire to see these groups leave their community.” The representative from Nevada added that his constituents were being been forced to “‘live under the persistent watch of an armed militia,’ that answers to no particular authority other than its own, and is accountable to no one.” He urged the sheriff “to work with local leaders to ensure that their concerns are addressed in a manner that allows the community to move forward without incident.”

A News NOW crew that was in Bunkerville on April 29th said it did not find any roadblocks in the area “with militia members checking on people trying to pass.”

The StarTribune reported that Bundy’s neighbors and local authorities had grown weary of the Nevada rancher’s unresolved dispute with the BLM. Bundy denied that any militia members had set up checkpoints on public property. A group of militia members, however, was reported to have stopped a neighboring rancher who was trucking cattle to Arizona. Bundy said the milita members were just helping his son. “They wanted to ensure that Bundy cattle weren’t being rustled.”

Rep. Horsford talks Bunkerville militia presence with Rachel Maddow

 

Bundy’s Family and Supporters File Criminal Reports

According to JJ MacNab of Forbes, three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, two of his sisters, and seventeen supporters filed Criminal Reports with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Las Vegas, Nevada, last Friday.  MacNab said their list of complaints was extensive:

Men blocking access to public land
Men blocking public roads
Men harassing people for taking photos
Men impersonating Police officers
Men claiming to be a police officer and refusing to show valid identification
Men threatening to use Tasers
Men threatening to fire upon unarmed civilians
Men using attack dogs
Men pointing weapons
Assault

We believe that the BLM men who pointed guns at over 1,000 people on April 12th near the I-15 freeway south of Mesquite committed a criminal act and that the Clark County Sheriffs [sic] office should be required to investigate.  (Source:  Bundy Website, May 1, 2014)

MacNab noted “the obvious irony of these complaints being levied by a group that dresses in paramilitary uniforms, sets up illegal checkpoints on public roads, aims their many weapons at both law enforcement and civilian contractors, and threatens to bomb and kill people at local businesses…” She added that there was “something even more sinister behind these Criminal Reports”—the “implied ‘or else’ in these demands to the local Sheriff to do their bidding.”

Cliven Bundy, the Sovereign Citizen

MacNab said that like most Sovereign citizens, “Bundy believes that the County Sheriff is the most powerful law enforcement officer in the entire country, with unlimited authority that trumps that of any federal agent, elected official, local police officer, or perceived enemy.” She added that the 14th Amendment “holds a special place in Sovereign mythology.” According to her, Sovereigns “claim that the 14th Amendment covertly introduced a new type of citizen – the U.S. citizen – when only state citizenship existed prior to the Amendment.”  Sovereigns believe that “the federal government then tricked Americans into this structure by having them enter into contracts such as licenses, permits, birth certificates, and so on.” MacNab added, “Traces of these theories can be found sprinkled throughout Bundy’s statements.”

MacNab reported that when Bundy was questioned about what happens when the Sheriff doesn’t obey, he responded by saying, “We the People have asked the 3,100 sheriffs across the nation to disarm the bureaucrats. They form the biggest army in the world.” And when he was asked what might happen if the sheriffs didn’t do that, he said, “You have seen during the past weeks what happens when the Sheriff doesn’t comply.” MacNab continued by saying that based on the history of the Sovereign Citizen Movement “Bundy appears to have initiated a process that could end badly for Sheriff Gillespie and the agents of the BLM.”

Cliven Bundy’s Home on the Range (A Mark Fiore Video)

 

SOURCES

Sean Hannity, Jon Stewart, and That Racist, Gun Totin’ Welfare Queen Cliven Bundy (Flowers for Socrates)

Context Matters: The Cliven Bundy Standoff — Part 3 (Forbes)

The Bundy Ranch Militia Is Wearing Out Its Welcome (Yahoo/The Wire)

Bundy’s “Militia” Is Lawlessness of a Different Color (Truth-Out)

I-Team: Police say Bundy ranch protesters not off the hook (KLAS-TV/News NOW)

Concerns growing about militia members at Bundy ranch ((KLAS-TV/News NOW)

Businesses lose thousands in Bundy ordeal (KLAS-TV/News NOW)

Congressman: Bundy Militia Has Set Up Road ‘Checkpoints’ In Nevada (Talking Points Memo)

Neighbors grow weary of ‘militia’ remaining with Nevada cattle rancher in federal land dispute (StarTribune)

Nevada Congressman Seeks Probe Of Armed Militia Operations At Cliven Bundy Ranch (Reuters/Huffington Post)

Sheriff urged to clamp down on armed militiamen around Bundy ranch (Las Vegas Sun)

Ongoing Militia Presence Raises Fears Among Locals Near Bundy Ranch (Southern Poverty Law Center)

NV lawmaker presses sheriff to probe Bundy militiamen (FOX 5/KVVU-TV)

Nevada lawmaker: Cliven Bundy supporters are setting up ‘checkpoints’ against residents (Raw Story)

The Dark Side Of Cliven Bundy’s Conservative Media-Approved Militia (Media Matters)

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18 Responses to Cliven Bundy, Patrolling Militia Groups in Nevada, and Sovereign Citizens

  1. rafflaw says:

    Elaine,
    Cliven Bundy and friends are Sovreign Idiots!

  2. Mike Spindell says:

    Elaine,

    Here is the libertarian ideal in practice. If Ayn Rand were around today what an epic novel she would write about the “heroic” Mr. Bundy. The idea of “liberty” that some propose is that who has the most guns wins.

  3. Has any of this group of blog buddies noticed that Cliven Bundy does not make public appearances except at his house? A bunch of his thugs have showed up at public meetings in town, but Bundy is a no-show. Wonder why?

    Daily Kos diarist TeamSarah4Choice nails it with this story: Cliven Bundy Too ChickenSh*T To Step Foot Off Ranch -hmmm… Fear of Arrest?

  4. Blouise says:

    All it will take is one incident and the Feds will land like a ton of bricks.

    The incident could be contrived and properly set up. They’ve learned a few things since Ruby Ridge and Waco.

  5. pete says:

    I wonder if Bundy is even helping to feed all the people who’ve come to help him out.

  6. Elaine M. says:

    Chuck,

    Thanks for the link to the Daily Kos article. Interesting.

  7. Elaine,
    The first time I saw that clown’s name, I didn’t have my glasses on and read it as “Craven” Bundy. :mrgreen:

  8. Elaine M. says:

    BLM workers on alert after wrangler threatened with gun on I-15
    Terror ploy? » Assailants hide behind hoods, mask license plate while making death threat.
    By Erin Alberty
    The Salt Lake Tribune
    First Published May 07 2014 • Last Updated May 08 2014
    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57917374-78/wrangler-blm-reid-pickup.html.csp

    Excerpt:
    With anti-government sentiments roiling in the aftermath of Cliven Bundy’s Nevada standoff, government workers in western Utah are stripping BLM logos from their vehicles after two motorists brandished a gun and displayed a threatening sign at a federal wrangler who was driving Tuesday in Juab County.

    The wrangler was driving a load of horses and burros north on Interstate 15 about 11 a.m. near Mills when a dark blue Dodge 1500 extended-cab pickup pulled up alongside the wrangler. The two occupants “told him he was No. 1 with that certain gesture,” said Eric Reid, the wrangler’s supervisor at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Fillmore Field Office.

    The pickup fell back and the wrangler continued north. A few minutes later, the pickup reappeared, Reid said. The men, wearing hoods, held up a sign, apparently scrawled on a piece of paper, that read, “You need to die.” One of the men pointed what appeared to be a Glock handgun at the wrangler.

    The wrangler tried to make out a license plate number, but the plate had been covered with duct tape, Reid said.

    After watching the pickup drive past Nephi, the wrangler reported the threat. The Utah Highway Patrol searched for the pickup but has not found it.

    “We are investigating this and investigating it thoroughly,” UHP Sgt. Todd Royce said.

    BLM officials do not believe the men were stalking the wrangler in connection to the agency’s controversial wild horse and burro roundups, but rather that they noticed the BLM logo on his truck and trailer and saw an opportunity to harass a federal employee, Reid said.

    “It’s one of those things now we’re going to be dealing with,” Reid said. “A lot of [people] have taken that attitude toward the government.”

  9. Tony C. says:

    I honestly do not understand why law enforcement cannot find and apprehend these people by force. Call out the national guard. Put them down if they resist arrest.

  10. Tony,
    The government certainly has the capability. The behavioral profilers did learn a thing or two from the fiascoes at Ruby Ridge and Waco, so they are playing it conservatively. More of a waiting game. They don’t really want a firefight, but as a last resort, they do have a vast array of resources to quell the rebellion. If I were asked to be a consultant on this case, taking into consideration I don’t know all the details in the case files, my advice would be to use a waiting game. I probably would recommend sending US Marshals to the town in order to back up local law enforcement in protecting citizens from threats and harassment if the roving patrols of gunmen continue. The last thing they want to do is make martyrs of these clowns, so a wait-and-see approach is best in the short run.

    Finally, our military, contract security companies, and law enforcement have all learned a lot about asymmetrical engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. They can use as much or as little force as necessary to put down an insurrection. I wonder if the Bundy crowd has seen this video from Afghanistan? A heavily armed squad of about 20 Taliban are deploying for a night attack when they are intercepted by two Apache helicopters. Notice they are careful to avoid hitting the horses.

  11. FYI, for those not familiar with verbal codes, “Winchester,” means they are out of ammo.

  12. GSP says:

    I’m surprised the Feds didn’t just get a court order to put a lien on Bundy’s bank accounts or cattle to collect the fines owed. Cows aren’t worth much if you can’t sell them or take payments for them.

  13. GSP,
    I have not seen what has been filed so don’t know for sure, but am reasonably certain there are liens. It is just that law enforcement at both the Federal and State levels don’t want a bloody confrontation, which is what would happen if they tried to seize his property. I am guessing that Bundy would have a hard time getting a bank loan right about now. I am sure he is smart enough to have anticipated liens, and does not have a local bank account they could seize.

  14. Tony C. says:

    Charlton: The last thing I want is some civilian accidentally shot, run off the road, or scared into pulling a gun and getting slaughtered. I am not a fan of waiting games; to me that is like saying a little bit of assault by intimidation is okay, you can point some guns at civilians and threaten their lives, just don’t get too carried away with it.

  15. GSP says:

    @Charlton:

    It is still hard to keep the lights on and run a business without a bank account.

    @Tony C.

    Waiting them out and using subterfuge (like in the Ed and Elaine Brown case) works compared to just a heavy handed assault. The last thing that the authorities would want is “blowback” from collateral damage (Think Timothy McVeigh and the Waco disaster)

  16. Tony C. says:

    GSP: In the situations you are talking about (and in the seized building situations in Ukraine right now) it would be plausible to establish a perimeter, protected from sniping, prevent food and supplies, water and electricity, cut or jam all communications, and wait until the people inside get hungry enough to surrender peacefully. Or instigate force and get themselves killed. Shouldn’t take more than a week or two, and like I said, we are paying national guardsmen anyway, might as well put them to work on a field exercise.

    That is not the situation in Nevada, as I understand it. The militia are not contained, not prevented from gaining supplies, free to roam and harass citizens, government officials, etc. I do not regard this as a candidate for wait and see, they are harming people. Threats are a form of assault, and illegal. They should be stopped immediately.

  17. pete says:

    remember the scene in “The Alamo”, the new one with Billy Bob Thornton, when at the battle of San Jacinto, Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) has all the hispanics on their side wear a playing card so the other texans can tell them from Santa Ana’s men?

    It may be that in the bundy camp there aren’t enough playing cards for the feds to tell the difference.

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