When the video footage of Ammon Bundy being tasered and threatened with dogs emerged on Wednesday lawmakers from around the nation took notice and decided that they’re going to take action to help.
Tea Party Republican and Libertarian lawmakers from Arizona to Washington along with members from the group “Oath Keepers” are headed to the Nevada ranch to show their solidarity with Cliven Bundy and those who support him.
The issue has evolved into a states’ rights versus federal government land use debate, and has drawn a sharp divide between the supporters of Bundy and those supporting the BLM.
The video that gained national attention was of one of Bundy’s seven sons being repeatedly shot with a taser and of his daughter being tackled to the ground by Bureau of Land Management agents.
“Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me,” said Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend, a tea party Republican who is driving up from Phoenix to take part in a rally with lawmakers and Oath Keepers near the Bundy ranch Monday. “It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.”
An assemblywoman from Nevada said the footage was “horrifying.” Michele Fiore has made two trips down to the ranch to talk with protestors and says she wants to “protect our Nevadans and keep the peace.”
“I’m highly offended by the feds coming in as aggressively as they have,” Fiore said.
Federal official are blaming the Bundys for the large presence of armed agents, saying that they had threatened violence if the feds took action on the rancher. However Bundy maintains that he has ancestral rights to the land and that the BLM is merely trying to intimidate him.
Prior to rounding up the livestock, BLM officials set up “First Amendment areas” so that Bundy’s supporters had a place to protest their actions. This move upset many, including Nevada governor Brian Sandoval who called them “offensive” and demanded they be removed, which the BLM did on Friday.
A local resident of Bunkerville, Jim Olsen, said that the operation from the BLM reminded him of East Berlin during the Cold War but he was glad to see the First Amendment areas get taken down.
“It took five minutes. They hooked a truck onto it, and bing, bang, boom the fence was gone,” Olson said. “Of course the publicity has just been horrid, and they (BLM officials) are not handling it very well.”
The areas weren’t even used by any of the Bundy’s supporters except to place their own signs saying things like “1st Amendment isn’t an area” and “1st Amendment: Corralled like an animal.”
Aside from what happened Wednesday, there hasn’t been any reports of violence, however more people from around the nation are arriving to the ranch daily to show their supports for the rancher, who said he has no intentions on backing down so it remains to be seen if there will ever be a shot fired