Federal authorities ended their round-up of a Nevada rancher’s cattle on Saturday, citing public safety concerns as self-described militias gathered to protest the government action. At one point, armed individuals had blocked a section of an interstate highway, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
So, having effectively intimidated federal officials from performing their duties, right-wingers who had come to view the showdown as some kind of proxy battle for the future of American freedom quickly claimed victory.
“We won the battle,” Ammon Bundy, one of rancher Cliven Bundy’s sons, told Reuters.
Cliven Bundy has been feuding with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his use of federal land to graze his cattle. The BLM said it had instructed Bundy, who has not paid for land privileges since 1993, to keep his animals off the land before it started to round them up last week. Bundy countered that his claim to the land pre-dated the federal government’s.
As conservative media hyped the dispute, more than 1,000 anti-government activists descended on the area to stand alongside Bundy in his protest of the perceived government overreach. They appeared ready for hostilities. “I’m ready to pull the trigger if fired upon,” one protester told Reuters as he held an AR-15 rifle.
And with the federal withdrawal, Bundy’s backers saw vindication. Bundy credited “the citizens of America” with taking back the estimated 300 cattle that federal officials had seized.
“There is no deal here,” Bundy told KLAS, a Las Vegas televsion station. “The citizens of America and Clark County went and took their cattle. There was no negotiations. They took these cattle. They are in possession of these cattle and I expect them to come home soon.”
And right-wing media that had fervently tracked the showdown said the same. “COWBOYS PUSH BACK FEDS IN RANCH SHOWDOWN…,” declared the top of the Drudge Report Monday morning.
InfoWars, the website of conspiracy enthusiast Alex Jones, called the federal backdown “historic.”
And Fox Nation said the federal authorities “tucked tail.”
Lead image: Supporters of the Bundy family hang a sign on the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after the Bureau of Land Management agreed to release the impounded cattle on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)