Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
A proof of his assertion is unfolding right now in the Nevada scrub lands as the Bureau of Land Management faces off against rancher Cliven Bundy, whose unforgivable crime is that he refuses to pay “grazing fees” for letting his cattle roam over 600,000 acres of reclassified federal land that Bundy says has been in his family for generations before the BLM was formed. The Gold Butte area is home to the endangered desert tortoise.
Bundy has been fighting this battle since 1993, and has been on the losing end most of the way. His back fees run around $300,000, the feds assert. A federal judge last year ruled that if the rancher didn’t move his cattle off of the disputed Gold Butte, the BLM could legally take them.
The cattle confiscation began this weekend, with the BLM moving in like the Invasion of Normandy.
Bundy has sworn to stand fast and said he is willing to become a martyr if that’s what it takes. Bundy has been getting increasing support from people who have heard about his case, and that’s got the feds sweating.
Fearing another Ruby Ridge, the feds have created two “First Amendment zones,” where protesters of government actions are supposed to stay.
According to the Moapa Valley Progress, Bundy’s son Dave Bundy was arrested Sunday while standing alongside the public highway Route 170 taking photographs of his father’s cattle as they grazed.
According to Dave’s brother Ryan, several members of the family had gone out on the public roadway to document the removal of their cattle. Ryan Bundy says they were not on the federally restricted land but on public land beside the highway.
The Progress reported that when the family stopped to take pictures, they were met with loudspeakers warning them to leave the area. Then they were surrounded by nearly a dozen BLM vehicles with two agents each.
“They also had four snipers on the hill above us all trained on us. We were doing nothing besides filming the area,” said Ryan Bundy.
The family were informed that they had no First Amendment rights outside the area the feds had created to contain protesters.
When Dave Bundy didn’t immediately return to his vehicle, the federal agents set a dog on him and then arrested him.
“He was filming and talking on the phone, I don’t know to whom,” Ryan Bundy said. “It happened pretty fast. They came down on him hard and had a German shepherd on him. And then they took him.”
The federal agents did not give the family any information about what they were doing with Dave Bundy or what charge he was facing, and the local law enforcement would not help.
Cliven Bundy attempted to contact area law enforcement, “They told him to get off the phone or he would be arrested,” Ryan Bundy said on Sunday. “That is the kind of support that we had from any legitimate policing power.” It was unclear at this writing what the situation was with Dave Bundy.
The federal government has never been authorized by the Constitution to simply take someone’s property without fair compensation, and even then it’s supposed to be limited to cases where the property is actually needed by the government.
To simply fence off an area, call it federal land because of a tortoise, and charge the former owners for the privilege, is a gross abuse of power. Why is the federal government really in that area? The tortoise is the flimsiest of excuses, yet it’s similar to other cases where property owners have been chased off or prevented from building because of a runaway, power-mad federal bureaucracy that does things just because it can get away with them.
The Department of Homeland Security has been buying guns, ammo and armored vehicles for all manner of federal and local agencies under the Obama Administration. We can probably expect to see more cases like the Bundys’ in the near future.