John Byrne/Battle Born Media Southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy speaks during the Independent American Party’s state convention at the Nugget on Friday in Sparks.

By Rachel Spacek, The Nevada Independent

Cliven Bundy, the Southern Nevada cattle rancher known for his years-long dispute with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was welcomed as a “modern American hero” in Sparks on Friday by the Independent American Party of Nevada.

Bundy was the keynote speaker of the party’s state convention, and in his speech discussed his 2014 protest and what he believed was overreach by the federal government.

Both Bundy and his wife, Carol, reminded listeners of the incident in April 2014 on the Bundy Ranch, when the BLM seized nearly 400 of Bundy’s cattle for grazing on federal land for years and were then met with armed protesters from Bundy’s family and others. After he was arrested in 2016, Bundy spent 700 days in prison before a federal judge in Las Vegas dismissed charges against him and two of his sons last month.

Federal prosecutors have asked the District Court judge, Gloria Navarro, to reconsider the decision.

On Friday, Bundy said it was a great thing that the case was dropped, but said it would have been an even greater thing if he and his sons were acquitted by a jury.

“It would have been a great thing for America if they would have let that happen because that is a way to set a precedent that would have lasted for 100 years,” Bundy said. “But the government never allowed us to do that. If they come and try to take us to trial again, which they indicate they might, that is just fine. We’ll expose them.”

Bundy said he and the other protesters fought the battle against the federal government both on the ground and in court.

In his speech, Bundy continued the argument he had in 2014, saying it was the Clark County sheriff and the governor’s job to protect his family’s property.

“Our protest was against our county sheriff and our governor who were supposed to be protecting our life, liberty and property,” Bundy said. “We felt that was not being done right and we were protesting the sheriff to do his job and the governor of the state of Nevada to do his job.”

The chairman of the Independent American Party of Nevada praised the Bundys’ fight against federal “corruption and tyranny” during his introduction of the keynote speaker.

The Independent American Party of Nevada’s platform focuses on limiting government, cutting taxes and government spending, the protection of property rights and freedom of speech. According to the secretary of state, there are more than 66,000 Nevadans registered with the Independent American Party, accounting for approximately 4.5 percent of the state’s active voters.

Bundy is a member of the Independent American Party, he told reporters, and in his speech he encouraged the expansion of the party.

“America is not happy with the Republicans, Americans are not happy with the Democrats,” Bundy said.

Bundy told reporters he has not yet decided if he plans to sue the Clark County sheriff, governor or the Clark County Commission, all of whom he has criticized for not protecting his rights to his land. He did not say whether he is considering a run for public office.

Bundy said federal agents do not hold authority over the area surrounding his ranch, located about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas in Bunkerville. He believes the county and the state have authority over the land.

“We have always had the understanding that the federal government has no jurisdiction or authority over these lands, these lands were admitted into statehood and they are state land,” Bundy said.

The movement to seize public lands from federal control is long-standing. Bundy’s case also reignited another debate about how grazing permits are defined. For now, Bundy said he will go back to his ranch to be a “producer for the American people.”

This article reprinted with permission from The Nevada Independent. Those interested can email contact@thenvindy.com

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