More than five thousand gun-wielding, yellow flag waiving TEA Partiers and Montana militia members are descending on a small town called Bunkerville to fight the federal government.
No, its not a scene from the next Dinesh D’Souza movie flop, it’s actually happening in the town of Bunkerville, Nevada– an hour North of Las Vegas. Now, TEA Party Republican Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman) posted on his Facebook page that he plans to join them.
White, who is the brother of Gallatin County Commissioner Steve White, has considered running for Governor on the GOP ticket in the past. It’s not known whether he’s still considering that office. Here’s his Facebook post:
At issue is one man’s refusal to follow the law like his neighbors have done and stop illegally grazing on federal land. The rancher, a man named Cliven Bundy, has racked up $1.2 million in fines and unpaid grazing fees since 1993–but says he is special and needn’t follow the law like everyone else because his ancestors homesteaded in the area.
So the BLM, as is standard practice, began confiscating Bundy’s cattle to sell to pay some of the unpaid fees. This is no different than what happens to anyone who doesn’t pay their mortgage or their taxes for many years. The government or bank has the right to foreclose because the person didn’t uphold her or his end of the deal.
“That is what we do. We provide armed response,” Jim Lardy with Operation Mutual Aid said.
Lardy came from Montana to join the protesters, and he says he is not afraid to shoot, if necessary.
“They have guns. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government,” Lardy said.
He says other militia members are joining him.
“There is many more coming,” Lardy said
Here’s another Montana militia member:
“We’re all in this together,” said Rick Lovelien, 50, a militia member from Libby, Mont., with the Montana State Defense Force.
One protestor even admitted they had plans to put women and children at the front of the crowd so they would be among the first casualties if violence broke out. So these are the kinds of people that are involved.
The rancher is even urging sheriffs across the US to disarm federal law enforcement officials, Reuters reported.
An official with a group that tracks extremist and hate groups said the call by Cliven Bundy to disarm federal law enforcement with agencies like the BLM is equivalent to calling for an armed rebellion against the U.S. government.
The federal government, siting safety concerns for BLM staff and members of the public, have cancelled the cattle collection for the time being. The situation remains worrisome for many reasons. Dallas Hyland writes in Utah’s St George News that this could be the start of a growing trend:
The stand-down was necessary to prevent bloodshed, but it must be recognized that if Bundy and a multitude of his supporters, militia friends, and even family members who broke the law, are allowed to go unpunished, anarchy will follow. Other groups, emboldened by the appearance of forcing a stand-down, will only continue to gain momentum. And furthermore, law enforcement as a whole will be rendered impotent as average people with disputes with current laws begin to wonder if they too can call a militia in to force the police to leave them alone.
And even though the federal government is standing down for now, an update to the TEA Partier’s Facebook page includes an update that White has plans to postpone his trip to when the federal government returns, presumably so that he can get in on the action.
Kerry White’s opponents are democrats Christopher Burke, a West Yellowstone businessman, and CJ Monteith. The district is not dominated by Republican voters, like some in outer Gallatin County are, but contains about half dems and half repubs–so this kind of behavior will hurt White rather than help him.