On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro ordered the release of Cliven Bundy from federal custody. On Wednesday, Cliven Bundy addressed the media at Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Headquarters. Even as many Nevadans continue to condemn Bundy’s 2014 armed standoff against federal and local law enforcement agents, Bundy threatened more unrest as long as federal public lands remain as such.
“But what did they do? They aided and abetted with the federal government to steal my cattle and imprison Bundy for two years.”
– Cliven Bundy, condemning state and local officials for not coming to his aid
Last December, Judge Navarro ordered a mistrial in Cliven Bundy’s case and reprimanded federal prosecutors for withholding key evidence from Bundy’s legal defense team. Navarro followed that up this past Monday by dismissing the case with prejudice, citing “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” on the part of U.S. Attorneys as she ordered Bundy’s release. As a result, the federal government will not be able to retry Bundy unless it appeals her decision.
Even though Navarro based her ruling on the prosecution’s technical failings, Cliven Bundy nonetheless claimed vindication for his “range war” against federal authority at a press conference outside Metro Police Headquarters. And not only that, but Bundy also laid blame on none other than Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for not invoking “posse comitatus” and siding with him.
HAPPENING NOW: Cliven Bundy speaks out after a federal judge ordered his release and the dismissal of criminal charges related to his 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville.
Posted by Nevada Forward on Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Bundy declared, “What could the county sheriff have said to stop all of this? He could have said no.” He went on to condemn Governor Brian Sandoval (R), the Clark County Commission, and other state and local officials for not supporting his armed standoff against the federal government. “But what did they do? They aided and abetted with the federal government to steal my cattle and imprison Bundy for two years.”
“If the county sheriff didn’t come to protect me, we would go through the same scenario that we’ve been through [in April 2014].”
– Cliven Bundy
Bundy then issued this veiled threat against the government: “I’ve either got to forgive these people, or I’ve got to hold them accountable.” When pressed on how he intends to “hold accountable” government officials, Bundy finally said, “I guess it would be whatever it takes.”
Does this mean the Bundys will take up arms against the federal government again? Bundy eventually provided an answer that hinted it’s definitely on the table. “It would take a call from the county sheriff to come and protect me,” Bundy declared. “If the county sheriff didn’t come to protect me, we would go through the same scenario that we’ve been through [in April 2014].”
“It wasn’t a standoff. […] It was a protest.”
– Cliven Bundy, describing the April 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville
And yet, Bundy continues to refuse to acknowledge his role in that 2014 standoff turning violent. “It wasn’t a standoff. […] It was a protest.” Even after being reminded that guns were pointed at federal agents, Bundy continued to deny that his “protest” was indeed an armed standoff: “We found out in court that there was nobody pointing guns.”
Bundy again blamed federal and local officials for the violence in Bunkerville. “They threatened we the people’s lives, and the county sheriff should have made sure that didn’t happen.”
“The Bundys and their armed supporters are domestic terrorists, plain and simple.”
– Maria-Teresa Liebermann, Battle Born Progress
LIVE: Local progressives and public lands advocates hold a press conference on the dismissal of the Nevada #BundyTrial criminal charges
Posted by Nevada Forward on Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Just hours prior to Bundy’s own press conference, local public lands advocates gathered in Las Vegas to respond to Bundy’s release.
Not only did they condemn Bundy going free, but they also warned of potential public safety hazards ahead. According to Pastor Ralph Williamson of the Faith Organizing Alliance, “The Bundys used guns to express their displeasure with the government and have been released without trial. This is the exact opposite of safety and a clear lack of justice.”
Battle Born Progress Deputy Director Maria-Teresa Liebermann was even more direct in her description of the Bundys and their actions. “The Bundys and their armed supporters are domestic terrorists, plain and simple.” She continued, “Their release has put our public lands, including Gold Butte National Monument, at risk and endangers people visiting the area or trying to do their jobs on our public lands.“
“They have no jurisdiction or authority. They do not own the land. They do not own the rights there.”
– Cliven Bundy, denying federal authority over public lands
Environmentalists’ fears over the future of Gold Butte, the land where Cliven Bundy once sent his cattle to illegally graze, seemed to be confirmed by none other than Bundy himself. After his press conference, Bundy continued to deny federal authority over federal public lands: “It’s Clark County, Nevada, land.”
When pressed again on whether Bundy could ever respect federal law on public lands, he continued to voice defiance. “They have no jurisdiction or authority. They do not own the land. They do not own the rights there.”
Even when confronted with actual federal law specifying the federal government’s authority over public lands, Bundy refused to acknowledge it. This right here gets to the heart of the “range war” that Bundy has subjected Nevada and the entire nation to since 2014. And yet, Bundy is now a free man. Judging by Bundy’s own words, this “war” may yet be far from over.