The federal Bureau of Land Management began a roundup of Cliven
Bundy's cattle earlier this month, contending he owes over $1
million in back fees, penalties and other costs for grazing the
herds on federally managed land.
The roundup in the area of Bunkerville, less than 74 miles northeast
of Las Vegas, became a flashpoint for anti-government groups,
militia members, conservative politicians and gun rights activists.
Federal rangers, facing about 1,000 of Bundy's armed supporters,
backed down on Saturday and ultimately released at least 300 of the
seized cattle, in a decision the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said
was made to avoid harm to employees and the public.
The four-hour standoff temporarily shut down Interstate 15 and ended
when the bureau stopped rounding up cattle, citing safety concerns,
and then agreed to return the cows.
"Every sheriff across the United States of America, take away the
guns from the United States bureaucrats," the 76-year-old Bundy said
on Monday while standing on an un-hitched flatbed truck trailer at
the entrance to his property.
Bundy was joined at his news conference by Nevada state
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, a Republican, who accused the federal
government of overreaching in the dispute.
"Understand it is because of each and every one of you standing here
and each and every one of our Americans watching us and protecting
us with our firearms why this did not turn into Waco massacre or a
Ruby Ridge," Fiore said, referring to two deadly 1990s
confrontations involving federal agents.
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The BLM and U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to
requests for comment on Monday.
An official with a group that tracks extremist and hate groups said
the call by Cliven Bundy to disarm federal law enforcement with
agencies like the BLM is equivalent to calling for an armed
rebellion against the U.S. government.
"They are stirring a very volatile and dangerous pot," said Mark
Potok, senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "It could
goad more people to do the same kind of thing."
(Additional reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Idaho;
writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Ken Wills)
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