For about 20 minutes Thursday afternoon, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy restated his views on race in America.
The press conference, originally expected to announce legal action against the Bureau of Land Management, instead featured Bundy offering a sort of stream-of-conscience take on the reaction to his comments about black people and slavery. He made no apology, and instead used part of his time to scold the media for its coverage of him.
He stood on a makeshift outdoor stage decked with American flags, with supporters occasionally shouting their approval of him. At the end of the event, a few supporters cursed and yelled at the reporters. Bundy, meanwhile, continued sharing thoughts on “the Negro community” in comments that tracked with the attempted clarification Bundy had given to conservative radio hosts throughout the day.
“The question is: Are they slaves the way they are, the way they live, slaves to charity and government subsidized homes?” Bundy said. “Are they slaves when their daughters are having abortions and their sons in the graves and prisons?”
“This thought goes back a long time over the years,” he said.
Of seeing black people in their government-subsidized homes in Las Vegas, he said: “I thought, ‘Would they be happier if they was home, talking about the South, where they come from? Would they have been home with their gardens and their chickens and their children playing around them?'”
“Would they? That was the question I ask, and I ask you: Would they be happier?”
The news conference came after the New York Times published similar comments the rancher made over the weekend. Those comments drew widespread criticism on Thursday, including from some of the conservatives who had supported him during his recent standoff with the feds over cattle grazing fees.
At the news conference, Bundy also repeated a story he told over the weekend about his experience during the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965.
“It was the Negro people burning their own city,” he said.