Feds, police up ante over Bundy standoff

Cliven Bundy looks out over his 160 acre ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada May 3, 2014.
Cliven Bundy looks out over his 160 acre ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada May 3, 2014.

Federal and law enforcement authorities say Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy will be held accountable for inciting a stand-off between his self-appointed and armed militia and federal agents in April.

Bundy racked up a million-dollar bill with the federal government after refusing to pay fees for letting his cattle graze on federal lands for 20 years. 

After a media frenzy in which Bundy denied the federal government’s authority over land it's owned for decades, states rights supporters formed a self-appointed militia, camping in an abandoned rock pit near the Bundy ranch. In April, they confronted federal authorities who came to round up Bundy’s cattle and a tense stand-off ensued. Federal authorities eventually backed down, but now they say they’re still trying to hold Bundy accountable for his actions. 

“If you step over that line, there are consequences to those actions,” Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie told the Los Vegas Review-Journal last week. "And I believe they stepped over that line. No doubt about it. They need to be held accountable for it."

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agreed, telling the Associated Press this weekend that they are pursuing the matter “aggressively through the legal system.”

"There is an ongoing investigation and we are working diligently to ensure that those who broke the law are held accountable," a spokesman said. 

Bundy's story has been a firestorm since the start: initially, conservative outlets and Republicans rushed to defend him as a victim of government overreach; later when Bundy was heard by a reporter espousing racist views—asking if African-Americans would have been "better off as slaves"—his political supporters backed away.

Even between authorities, it's still a contentious matter: the BLM and sheriff disagree over much of what occurred. The sheriff argued that the BLM mishandled the situation in an interview with the Review-Journal, but the BLM fired back in an interview with the Associated Press that the sheriff backed down from the “crowd control” operation after months of joint planning and was “attempting to rewrite the details of what occurred.”