Published Friday, May 2, 2014 | 10:51 a.m.
Updated Friday, May 2, 2014 | 4:15 p.m.
Surrounded by reporters and supporters, Cliven Bundy's family protested peacefully in front of the Metro Police department this morning and filed criminal complaints against the federal Bureau of Land Management for assault and other alleged offenses.
Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy's son, read from a three-page statement in front of the police headquarters to about 20 supporters and a nearly equal number of media. He criticized Metro for not standing up for the family's rights in its long-running battle with the BLM over cattle grazing rights on public land.
"Our innocence has left us," Ammon Bundy said.
Last month, armed federal agents launched a cattle roundup on the Bundy ranch after the family refused to follow a court order to remove their cattle from public land and pay more than $1 million in grazing fees. Ammon Bundy was tased by federal agents during the roundup.
Their complaints, said family friend Myron Hughes, 78, who was raised in Mesquite, are based on the feeling that the sheriff “was not taking care of the situation and telling the BLM to ‘pull back.’ They were allowing the BLM to do whatever it wanted.”
Metro doesn’t typically take criminal reports on other law enforcement agencies. But officials said in a statement this afternoon that they took 22 statements from people who cited several offenses, including aiming a firearm, blocking road access and intimidation.
Metro detectives will review the statements with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After that, they’ll respond to the people who filed complaints.
Ammon Bundy, 38, wore a button with a turn-of-the-century black-and-white photo of Native Americans in traditional headdress and clothing that read: “Fighting Terrorism since 1492.”
One Bundy supporter stood out because unlike everyone else, he isn’t white. Raised in India, the man, who would not give his name, said he took no offense when Cliven Bundy wondered aloud if blacks might have been better off as slaves.
“That man is not saying anything bad about anybody,” the man said. “All he’s saying is we want liberty and freedom and you lose it if you depend on the federal government. Simple as that. He’s not educated, he’s from the country. That’s how country folks talk. I’m from India, I’m a country boy, too.”
Lillie Spencer, one of Ammon Bundy’s sisters, said Cliven Bundy was saying “we’re all oppressed because of the government telling us what we can do, how we can live. Maybe he said it in the wrong words but that’s what it was.”
“We want every little family to be a family and enjoy the land and their families and not be afraid that there’s no help,” said Margaret Houston, another sister. “If you was down there, there was no help for our families. None. The good ole’ sheriff called their boys off. (The BLM was) bullying and threatening us and it was terrible.”
Cliven Bundy was not at today's protest. His son said he had already filed a complaint. None of the Bundy supporters was armed. A few Metro Police officers stood nearby to monitor the protest.
After a Bundy supporter said a prayer, the collection of reporters and Bundy-ites gathered at the entrance to one of the three buildings that make up police headquarters. Before entering, Ammon Bundy read a three-page statement. He said he was grateful to those who showed up during the ranch ordeal with “pens and cameras … prayers … and fists and guns.”
“You have restored our faith in the goodness of the American people,” he said.