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Nevada rancher's neighbors weary of attention



BUNKERVILLE, Nev. (AP) - American flags flap in the wind on the two-lane state highway to Cliven Bundy's ranch. Along the roadside, self-described militia members in camouflage who came to defend him from the federal government lounge and smoke, loaded pistols on their hips.

Ten miles from these desert encampments, the telephone is ringing more than usual at the police department in Mesquite, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Travelers from around the country are calling, wondering if it's safe to pass on Interstate 15, where Bundy and his supporters, some armed with military-style weapons, faced down federal officials in an April 12 standoff over his cattle grazing on federal land.

Police Chief Troy Tanner tells callers it's safe. But local authorities and Bundy's neighbors are growing weary of the attention and the unresolved dispute. Since the standoff, Bundy went from being proclaimed a patriot by some for his resistance to a racist for comments he made about blacks being better off under slavery.

"Most of our neighbors have about the same opinions we have. They don't like it," said John Booth, a resident of nearby Bunkerville who drove this week with his wife, Peggie, past the State Route 170 encampments. "But they're not really going to say anything about it."

As triple-digit temperatures of a Mojave Desert summer approach, militia members vow to stay and protect Bundy and his family from government police, though it's unclear what the immediate threat is.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has halted plans - at least for now - to round up Bundy's cattle under a court order to remove them from public land and habitat of the desert tortoise. The BLM says Bundy owes $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees penalties.

"We haven't been told by the Bundys that they're ready for us to go," said Jerry DeLemus, a former U.S. Marine from New Hampshire.

DeLemus heads a self-styled militia protection force of perhaps 30 people who sleep in tents, clean their military-style AR-15 and AK-47 weapons, and form work crews to help build watering bins for cattle on and around the Bundy ranch.

Bundy, who turned 68 on Tuesday, rode his call for a "range war" to conservative media stardom. He's been portrayed as a states' rights advocate battling an overreaching government, and a white-hat, last-of-the-cowboys figure.

Just as quickly, he lost many Republican defenders when he made the comments about blacks last week. Democrats labeled Bundy a racist.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, who lives in Las Vegas and represents a vast area including Bunkerville and Mesquite, met with residents last week and called Monday for federal authorities and the local sheriff to investigate the gun-toting force.

Openly carrying a pistol or rifle is legal in Nevada. Permit holders can carry concealed weapons.

Horsford, however, cited concerns about "an armed presence in or around community areas including local churches, school, and other community locations."

Bunkerville, with about 1,200 residents, has a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple, a Catholic church, a community center, an elementary school, a park and a firehouse on the banks of the Virgin River. There's no general store or restaurant.

Bundy acknowledged creating a stir when he and his family showed up at the Mormon church with armed bodyguards for Easter Sunday services.

"The militia have been going with me everywhere," Bundy said Tuesday. "When I got to church, I said, 'Leave your weapons in the car.' They did. I guess there could have been weapons in the parking lot, but there were no weapons in the church house."

Bundy denies that militia members set up checkpoints on public property. He said armed guards do stop and screen visitors at the gate to his ranch.

A group of militia members who stopped a neighboring rancher trucking cattle last Saturday to Arizona, about 12 miles to the east, were helping his son, Ryan Bundy, the family patriarch said. They wanted to ensure that Bundy cattle weren't being rustled.

A guard also is stationed on a dirt road leading to a gravel quarry on private land where DeLemus and his group have been camping for almost three weeks.

At a campsite with a sign dubbing it "Bunker Hill," Jason Scott Patrick, 42, from Bonaire, Georgia, described wielding a weapon during the standoff in a dry wash beneath the I-15 overpass.

Lisa Marie Johnson, 49, a Republican party activist and Rand Paul supporter from Pahrump, Nevada, said she believed their presence provided a deterrent to what she described an overreaching federal government.

Across the highway river bridge, Tom Mayhew, 72, also from Pahrump, has been living in a cluttered 32-foot motor home with a generator, a big computer screen and a gun in his belt.

"I'm too old to do battle, but I'm a body," he said as he punched up a website showing an aerial view of the encampment area.

Join the discussion

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Jeremiah May 01 2014 at 5:13 PM

Dirty Harry Reid got caught trying to give land to the Chi-coms through the auspices of Reid's son, and his insider information. When harry made the BLM tryto drive Bundy off the land, due to some turtles, it was only done because Dirty Harry wanted sonny-boy to make a few bucks at the people of Nevada's expense. Only the picked the wrong piece of land for which to “trade” habitat for the Chi-coms.

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1 reply
orion15stars Jeremiah May 01 2014 at 5:50 PM

Yes, he did if what you state is true about Reid, and you didn't prove it was. That land belongs to the nation not Bundy. Bundy is in direct violation of his land lease contract with the US nation to the tune of over $1m dollars for over 20 years. That means no private sector profiteer, not even Bundy, can just arbitrarily steal land owned by the US nation for the purpose of personally profiteering. If you are against Reid, then you have no choice but to be against Bundy's actions as well.

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1 reply
oldbeersigns orion15stars May 01 2014 at 6:54 PM

YOUR A PUKE !! LIKE TO FIND YOU IN AN ALLEY

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mdgunvordahl May 01 2014 at 5:41 PM

I really don't understand how these people can support a man who steals pasture land, what else can you call it when he refuses to pay the grazing fees? I have flown over much of the area where this is, and overgrazing is not uncommon, a lot of the ranchers feel that it doesn't matter if they overgraze the land, it doesnt belong to them so if theuy ruion it so what? If he would have paid the state, they charge 15.50 a head, compared to the US rate of 1.50. Bundy is nothing more than a rich deadbeat!

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1 reply
oldbeersigns mdgunvordahl May 01 2014 at 6:45 PM

YOUR JUST A BIG CHUMP LIKE YOUR KING OBAMA

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Go Lady Eagles May 01 2014 at 5:42 PM

Bundy don't owe government that much money. It's just Reid and Obama being cattle rustlers.

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snglespdx1 May 01 2014 at 5:43 PM

This old white man is stealing OUR money, he has been making millions of dollars off OUR money. He does not own the land he is grazing his cattle on. We own the that land, you and I.
Imagine for a moment, that he was not an angry old white guy and he was caught stealing 1.2 million dollars of our money. Would the same people be defending his right to steal our money, what if he was a young black man? And this black man said, " hey I don't recognize the US government therefore, it has no right to say that this 1.2 million is theirs. Would you feel the same way??
Have a nice day Y'all

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1 reply
oldbeersigns snglespdx1 May 01 2014 at 6:44 PM

YOUR A DIPSHIT LIBERAL LYING CHUMP LIKE YOUR LUVER OBAMA

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TOM May 01 2014 at 5:43 PM

I still think the BLM should be paying the ranchers to graze the cattle on government property. We are in a severe drought here in the West and grazing cattle would certainly help reduce the amount of fuel available for wildfires.

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2 replies
orion15stars TOM May 01 2014 at 6:13 PM

You're in a drought which means if they eat all that grass there won't be any left, and the cattle will starve to death. The land will be just another worthless dustbowl.

Why should the taxpayers pay anyone to freeload profiteer off themselves? The nation owns that land not Bundy.

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cofeeecat TOM May 01 2014 at 6:30 PM

The cattle prefer the green growing stuff, the stuff that doesn't burn easily. His cattle won't help reduce the chance of wildfires, only reduce the amount of fuel available in September. Bundy should man up and pay for what his cattle consume like everyone else does. Remember the old saying, "There is no free lunch." Apparently unless you're Bundy and think you deserve stuff for free.

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john foote May 01 2014 at 5:46 PM

Bundy is inarticulate. The point he was trying to make was any one that takes from this government ( like food stamps and welfare) is a slave ; they pretty much own you. Money for training and investing in jobs are what helps lift people of all colors out of poverty. The old teach a man to fish adage. Big government is not a good thing , the money they say (they) give is from hard working taxpayers .

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2 replies
orion15stars john foote May 01 2014 at 6:08 PM

Then stop overpopulating. The nation is the government. Those elected are paid by the government in tax money collected from the government/nation to govern, administrate, legislate, and adjudicate.

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carol03051 john foote May 01 2014 at 6:16 PM

HE DID NOT AND DOES NOT NEED YOU TO TWIST HIS MEANING THAT HE "MEANT" (LIKE FOOD STAMPS AND WELFARE" HE SAID EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT>>>BLACK PEOPLE WERE BETTER OFF AS SLAVES<<<>"HE MEANT...?? READ THE TEXT OF HIS WORDS>>THE OLD BIGOT SAID EXACTLY HOW HE FELT>

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frnthaf May 01 2014 at 5:49 PM

Correction: There is NO Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints temple in Bunkerville. It is a church. There is a difference.

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1 reply
orion15stars frnthaf May 01 2014 at 6:06 PM

The Mormons call those buildings temples not churches.

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2 replies
kcarthey orion15stars May 01 2014 at 6:21 PM

No they do not. Very special buildings are called "temples" and only the Mormon faithful can enter those. Their other houses of worship are called "ward houses" and they welcome all. No, I am not a Mormon, simply knowledgeable about their beliefs and customs.

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rvromers orion15stars May 01 2014 at 6:28 PM

Wrong! They call them churches. temples are for a whole different purpose than for church services. Get your facts straight, please.

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LGgarcia973 May 01 2014 at 5:49 PM

I am so fed up with these white supremacists bygots! This is a melting pot and that is what made these United States great, everyone contributed something. This is the XXI cetury, one race, THE HUMAN RACE!!!!

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3 replies
Tuhloola11 May 01 2014 at 5:49 PM

When are you idiot republicon voters going to realize that, the people you keep voting for, are not working in your best interest. The're main allegience is to the wealthy, and you're just a pawn in their game ! What's it going to take to realize that ?

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2 replies
crowvet Tuhloola11 May 01 2014 at 6:24 PM

surley not traitors that vote Democrat.

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oldbeersigns Tuhloola11 May 01 2014 at 6:37 PM

TRUE LIBTARD MORON . DOSNT KNOW THE TRUTH AND DOSNT TELL THE TRUTH LIKE HIS KING OBAMA

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vancilga May 01 2014 at 5:50 PM

They should round up the cattle to pay fees. Allowing unchecked grazing on public land will turn the land into dust. It needs to be controlled. The land belongs to all of us and we don't need more dust bowls.

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