Cheryl Cook’s article “I’ll be hornswoggled” (May 12) described Constitutional Sheriff Richard Mack, Police Officers Association, Oath Keepers and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as coo-coos itching for a fight and those supporting freedom as “feeding stations in a pasture of paranoia and anti-government propaganda.”
However, Bundy’s problem is similar to the U.S. v. Estate of E. Wayne Hage case. U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones wrote a 104-page report regarding the sordid tale of a 20-year-long conspiracy among federal employees of the BLM to deny the grazing rights of Nevada’s Hage ranching family, interfere with their water rights and destroy their cattle business by scaring away customers.
In June 2012, Jones issued a scorching preliminary ruling that charged federal officials of the U.S. Forest Service and BLM with an ongoing series of illegal actions that were a criminal conspiracy to deprive the Hages of their permitted-grazing rights and their vested property rights under the takings clause. The BLM conspiracy also deprived the Hages not only of their permits, but also of their vested water rights that dated back as far as 1866 and 1874. Most had been established by the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Jones issued an injunction against the federal government and ordered it to grant in accordance with the “historical usages and preferences” in that area of Nevada. Two BLM employees were held in contempt for sending trespass notices to people who leased or sold cattle to the Hages while pressuring others not to do business with the Hages and discouraging testimony in the case. Jones accused them of racketeering under the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations) statute and extortion, mail fraud and fraud in order to destroy Mr. Hage’s business.
Judge Jones ordered the government to pay $4.22 million to the Hage estate for the long, expensive battle waged because the agency had taken Hage’s water rights, ditch rights-of-way, roads, water facilities and other structures without just compensation. Although Wayne Hage died before the family case triumphed over the Interior Department, the terrible family battle shows how dangerous the power of the federal government can be in the hands of bureaucrats who don’t respect the ranchers, miners, farmers and loggers who settled the western frontier and who still live and produce there today.
Supervisor Barry Weller of Apache County (Arizona) thinks Cliven Bundy was right in standing up to the BLM. They were using deadly force killing cattle and shot his prize bull from a helicopter. Prairie County, Montana County Commissioner Todd Devlin contacted the Department of the Interior about why they refused to work with Bundy rather than run over him and asked if it was because he had prescriptive rights.
Top officials at the BLM were worried that he might use that defense. That’s probably why the BLM never filed a lien against the cattle. Bundy didn’t claim he wouldn’t pay the fees. He doesn’t want to pay the BLM because he doesn’t recognize federal authority of the land. He wanted to pay fees to Clark County, Nev., but it refused to accept them.
The BLM claims he owes $1.1 million but isn’t sure. The actual amount is probably around $200,000 plus penalties.
As to media insinuation that Bundy is racist, Charlie Delta (an African American Marine) says, “Bundy’s a cowboy and a helluva family man, not an orator.” He said Bundy posed a hypothetical question. “Hell, I’m black and I often wonder the same about the decline of the black family. Bottom line is that we’re all slaves in this waning republic, no matter our skin color Ú Native Americans on reservations, whites in trailer parks and … the crippling effects of receiving long-term government handouts. It’s not progress at all.”
As for Sheriff Mack keeping peace by having women face the armed BLM. He knew they wouldn’t dare harm them.
And the militia? They’ve been protecting our southern border for years where the feds wouldn’t. Surely everyone has heard about Paul Revere’s ride and the “shot heard round the world” celebrating Patriots Day that was the beginning of the American Revolution over a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Imagine what it was like for those men to stand up to the world’s greatest army to defend their colony from oppression. The militia formed that morning to protect their arms from seizure by an oppressive government.
Hopefully, we remember all those warriors who pledged their lives to protect our freedoms.
Bonnie McGuire lives in Nevada City.