Moment federal agents tasered son of last Nevada rancher caught on tape as critics accuse officers of acting like they're in 'Tiananmen Square' in fight over right to graze land.
By Dan Miller and Meghan Keneally and Ryan Gorman
Published: 11 April 2014
A newly-released video has captured the moment a rancher's son was tasered by federal agents and the use of force has today provoked fresh outrage among libertarian groups across the country.
Ammon Bundy, the son of the Nevada rancher locked in an increasingly tense land dispute with the federal government, is shown being shot with a taser and threatened by police dogs.
The confrontation took place Wednesday and was caught on video by Bundy supporters and relatives who got into an aggressive- and at times violent- face off with the officers.
'Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me,' Arizona state Representative Kelly Townsend told The Las Vegas Review Journal today.
Violent: A federal officer is seen firing a taser gun at Cliven Bundy's son Ammon Bundy as an aggressive police dog goes after him
'It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don't recognize my country at this point.'
Ms Townsend, a Tea Party-supporter who is based in Phoenix, said that she plans to drive up to Nevada to join the Bundy's supporters in their protest over the weekend.
Closer to home, Nevada state assemblywoman Michele Fiore has already made two trips to meet with the protestors in Bunkerville after seeing the 'horrifying' footage.
'I'm highly offended by the feds coming in as aggressively as they have,' she told the paper.
The outrage over the video has prompted a change in the federal agents' orders, as the Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman said that there would be adjustments.
'We are allowing people to congregate on public land as long as they don't inhibit the operation,' Amy Lueders said Thursday.
Bloodied: Krissy Thornton, right, looks at blood from a taser wound on Ammon Bundy
The week-long standoff started when federal agents swooped in Tuesday after Cliven Bundy, dubbed the last remaining rancher in southern Nevada, refused to remove his herd of 900 cows from land he claims has been in his family since 1870.
The heavily-armed federal agents, equipped with eight helicopters and backed-up by snipers, surrounded the Bundy ranch after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) attained a federal court order to confiscate the family's herd.
'It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don't recognize my country at this point.'
-Arizona state Representative Kelly Townsend
The latest Facebook instruction post made by Bundy supporters tells protesters to bring cameras and 'film everything' but 'any rifles people may have with them need to stay in the vehicles'.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who criticized the tactics used by the BLM agents earlier this week, has urged everyone to show restraint.
'Although tensions remain high, escalation of current events could have negative, long lasting consequences that can be avoided,' he said Thursday.
The cattle grab came after supporters of Mr Bundy had earlier told a town hall meeting that the showdown was like a 'warzone'.
Fighting words: Bundy, seen at right in the plaid shirt, is heard yelling at the agents to get off of his family's land
Recovery: Ammon backs away towards the group of supporters behind him as he recoils after the taser shot
Margaret Houston, Cliven Bundy's sister and a cancer survivor, told those gathered Wednesday at a town hall meeting that the scene 'was like a war zone. I felt like I was not in the United States.'
'All of a sudden I get hit from the back, it was like a football tackle,' she said. 'They took me and just threw me down to the ground.'
She was not hurt in the incident, but said she was 'shocked that somebody would actually do this.'
Armed private militias have even threatened to join the family in its fight against the government, according to 8 News Now.
However, local leaders of the protests have warned supporters of the Bundys not to wear camoflage and to keep any weapons they bring in their vehicles.
Opening the gates: Federal officers are seen making way for a convoy of cattle on Thursday
Speaking out: Margaret Houston, Cliven Bundy's sister, told how she was tackled by officers when she was protesting (seen here at a Wednesday town hall meeting)
Mr Bundy told infowars.com that they were able to 'gathered about 30 head' of cattle.
'We did have a small confrontation with them, but they didn't have the forces to do a whole lot,' he said.
'They couldn't mobilize fast enough and we were able to gather those cattle and get them to the ranch.'
Cliven Bundy has been battling the BLM since 1993 when he refused to pay for grazing rights after 600,000 acres of public land were reclassified as federal property.
Land managers claimed the change was necessary to protect a rare desert tortoise and limited the Bundy herd to just 150 head.
The government insists it is federal land which Bundy is using illegally claiming he owes more than $1.1million in unpaid grazing fees and has consistently disregarded federal court orders to remove his animals.
No passage: Federal law enforcement officers block a road into the land Bundy claims is his
Defiance: Cliven Bundy, (right), and friend, Clance Cox, stand at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville Nevada on Saturday during the escalation of their dispute with the Federal Government
At least three people have been arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle with armed private militias rallying to support the family in what is being seen locally as a First Amendment fight against a bullying federal government.
The arrests were made at nearby Overton Marina, where cattle moved off the land are being held by BLM agents, according to the station .
Clashes erupted soon after the armed agents began trying to impose their will on the protesters.
The incidents did not deter the family from defiantly pressing on.
'These are heavily armed individuals with fully automatic weapons,' Ammon Bundy told the station.
Another protester, from Utah, accused the BLM agents of 'Throwing women to the ground, tasing them [and] sticking K-9 dogs on them'.
The claims of brutality have resulted in private militias taking up the Bundys' cause.
They won't go: Charlie Brown holds up a sign Thursday from the Bureau of Land Management's 'first amendment area' during a protest of the Bureau of Land Management's roundup of cattle near Bunkerville
'That is what we do, we provide armed response,' Jim Lordy with Operation Mutual Aid told the station, adding that he isn't afraid to shoot.
'They have guns,' he continued. 'We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government.'
The Montana native claimed 'many more' militias are on their way to join their brothers in arms. They appear to be organizing via Twitter using the hashtags #BundyRanch and #rangewar.
Ammon Bundy, seen earlier this week, says 20 cowboys managed to break the blockade and retrieve 30 of his family's cattle
'They all tell me they are in the process of mobilizing as we speak,' Ryan Payne boasted to the Review-Journal.
Groups from as far away as New Hampshire and Florida are expected, he added.
One Twitter account even released the exact GPS coordinates of the ranch and advised people to 'bring cellphone chargers and cameras.'
Another quoted former president John Adams, saying that 'resistance by arms, against usurpation and lawless violence, is not rebellion by the law of God or the land.'
Both sides have dug in, and the militias feel they are doing their patriotic duty - the rising tensions are beginning to worry locals.
'These people that are coming in could totally disrupt everything,' one told the station. 'That frightens me. That absolutely frightens me.'
Claiming that the government has 'brought everything but tanks and rocket launchers', Bundy said his livelihood is being taken away from him by agents carrying, 'automatic weapons, sniper rifles, top communication, top surveillance.'
'The battle's been going on for 20 years,' Bundy told the Washington Free Beacon from his ranch 75 miles outside of Las Vegas.
'What's happened the last two weeks, the United States government, the bureaus are getting this army together and they're going to get their job done and they're going to prove two things.
'They're going to prove they can do it, and they're gonna prove that they have unlimited power, and that they control the policing power over this public land. That's what they're trying to prove.'
'Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,' he added, explaining that, among them, is the right to forage,' he said in a different interview.
Help: Supporters prepare to rally for Cliven Bundy at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville Nevada on Monday
People power: People help erect a pole to hang a banner during a rally in support of Cliven Bundy near Bunkerville Nevada on Monday
We shall not be moved: John Banks holds up a banner during a rally in support of Cliven Bundy
'Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land?
'Or is it Cliven Bundy who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who's the trespasser?'
Nine helicopters were circling the land Thursday, and federal officials have seized about 350 of Bundy's 908 cattle, according to various reports.
It is estimated that impounding them will cost upwards of $3million. Bundy estimates the unpaid fees total about $300,000.
The BLM has released a statement on its website regarding the matter, saying, 'cattle have been in trespass on public lands in Southern Nevada for more than two decades.
'This is unfair to the thousands of other ranchers who graze livestock in compliance with federal laws and regulations throughout the west.
'The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially.'
Pressure and surveillance: A helicopter takes off from a staging area of Bureau of Land Management vehicles and other government vehicles off of Riverside Road near Bunkerville, Nevada over the weekend
Property: Cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy are rounded up with a helicopter near Bunkerville Nevada on Monday, April 7, 2014. The Bureau of Land Management has begun to round up what they call 'trespass cattle' that rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas
Constitutional: Contractors for the Bureau of Land Management round up cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy with a helicopter near Bunkerville, Nevada on Monday
On Wednesday, officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service didn't immediately respond to Gov. Brian Sandoval's call for the BLM to 'reconsider its approach and act accordingly' in the ongoing roundup of about 900 cattle roaming a vast area about half the size of the state of Delaware.
'No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,' Sandoval said in a statement released after business hours Tuesday.
The Republican governor weighed in after several days of news coverage and radio talk show commentary about blocked roads and armed federal agents fanning out around Bundy's ranch while contractors using helicopters and vehicles herd cows into portable pens in rugged and remote areas.
Sandoval's comments came the same day the U.S. Senate confirmed Neil Kornze, a Nevada native, as the new BLM director.
Kornze is a natural resource manager who grew up in Elko and served previously as a senior adviser to Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Free speech? Cliven Bundy walks by a first amendment area set up by the Bureau of Land Management near Bunkerville
A higher cause: Krissy Thornton, right, and Burgundy Hall protest Wednesday with others - they say the cows are a proxy for the freedoms of all Americans
Continuing on: Jim Olson puts up a flag near what was the Bureau of Land Management's 'first amendment area'
Source: 'Daily Mail'