A Nevada rancher has called on local sheriffs across the U.S. to join his crusade against government overreach after he successfully reclaimed seized cattle from federal land managers over the weekend.
Cliven Bundy’s livestock was rounded up near Bunkerville, some 74 miles northeast of Las Vegas, by the federal Bureau of Land Management earlier this month, reports Reuters. Officials were seeking to settle an apparent debt of more than $1 million in back fees and penalties for grazing herds on federally managed land.
Soon armed anti-government groups, conservative politicians, local militias and gun-rights activists became involved in an four-hour standoff that temporarily shut down Interstate 15. Federal rangers faced at least 1,000 of Bundy’s armed supporters and released 300 appropriated animals to avoid any escalation.
Emboldened by the support, Bundy, 76, has now called upon sheriffs to join his crusade. “Every sheriff across the United States of America, take away the guns from the United States bureaucrats,” he told followers on Monday at the entrance to his property.
He was joined by a Republican Nevada state Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore, who addressed the crowd, saying the reason the standoff did not escalate was because of “each and every one of our Americans watching us and protecting us with our firearms.”
Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Bundy’s call was tantamount to insurrection.
“They are stirring a very volatile and dangerous pot,” he told Reuters. “It could goad more people to do the same kind of thing.”