I-Team: Bundy supporters looking for donations, manpower

LAS VEGAS -- The people still camped out at the Cliven Bundy ranch near Bunkerville are looking for some help from the public. They've posted an online ad, asking for donations of food, money, and manpower to maintain their security perimeter at the ranch.

Things in Bunkerville have calmed down considerably since a showdown three months ago that made national news and transformed rancher Bundy into a national figure, but Sheriff Doug Gillespie says the situation is far from over.

He had advised the BLM and other federal agencies to back off and let things simmer down before trying to move against Bundy and his cattle. That advice was ignored, and the resultant melee could easily have turned into a bloodbath. The sheriff took a lot of grief from the feds for his very public criticism of their operation, but he continues to stand his ground, and is once again advising caution as the government grows inexorably closer to taking action once again.

The crowds have departed from Bunkerville and so have the network news crews. As temperatures have soared, the number of militia guarding the Bundy ranch has dwindled and those who remain are calling out for help.

An ad posted on Craig's List, supposedly by the Oathkeepers group, asks for donations, everything from canned chili to sunscreen to walkie talkie's and, most of all, men who have time on their hands.

"The militia numbers are down very low," Sheriff Doug Gillespie said.

He admits that Metro is keeping an eye on the Bundy ranch, largely via his officers who live around Bunkerville and still interact with the Bundy family. The last time Gillespie was out there, it was to help defuse a highly volatile situation. He had worked out a deal to get the BLM to back off its seizure of Bundy's cattle, but Bundy insisted that they meet atop the makeshift stage.

"His boys told me, 'he won't talk to you.' They called me up on stage, and as we walked up to the stage, I stuck my hand out to shake his hand. He didn't want to shake my hand. I left it out there long enough and he felt, okay, I'd better shake your hand," Gillespie said.

After the sheriff calmed the crowd with the news that the BLM was backing off, Bundy fired them back up again by admonishing Metro to go out and disarm all federal employees.

"I just looked at him and I knew, he has, in my opinion, lost perspective. He was a different man. When I walked off the stage, I said to one of his boys, your dad is going down the wrong path on this."

The sheriff has publicly chastised the Department of Interior for how it handled the Bundy situation. First, for coming in way too strong with sniper teams, firepower and a confrontational stance that backfired. And then, for underestimating the level of support Bundy would have from highly armed militia members and people who simply don't like the government.

"It's not going away. It's not a surprise to us in law enforcement, from the Sovereign Citizens movement out there, the anti-government movements, as well as militia, some of them are definitely on the fringe and we saw that at Bunkerville."

"Whether they want to incarcerate me or whether they want to shoot me in the back, they are after me," Cliven Bundy said in his initial television interview from the ranch.

He hasn't backed down since that interview, but a reckoning is still on the horizon. Gillespie says the FBI investigation is ongoing and that conversations are underway with the Department of Justice about how to proceed against protesters who pointed guns at police and federal agents and against Bundy who still owes $1 million in grazing fees and fines and is still grazing his cattle on public land.

As before, the sheriff is urging a cautious approach to whatever action is taken.

"People say, 'why did you do this? He's breaking the law.' I say, this isn't a guy who just robbed a bank. Really, it's over cattle. let's not lose sight of that. No drop of human blood is worth a cow. It just isn't. I think egos need to be put aside," Gillespie said.

The sheriff spent two years developing a dialogue with Cliven Bundy but says he has not spoken to the rancher since the flare up in April. He added that he'd be open to speaking with Bundy any time.

As the I-Team first reported, the FBI has interviewed the sheriff, assistant sheriff Joe Lombardo, and the officers who were on the scene when things came to a head. Some of them have told us they thought they were going to die that day, and that any spark could have ignited a violent explosion. For many in Metro, the Bundy showdown, followed by the murders of two officers, has led to serious soul searching about how police work has changed and whether the risk is worth it.

 


More Stories

Don't Miss

  • Community Calendar
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Connect with 8 News NOW
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Founder's Day of Caring
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Community Pride
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Politics Now
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

Video Center