“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,” Sandoval said in a Tuesday statement. “The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”
He took particular issue with the government’s decision to establish a specific area in which residents could protest.
“Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution,” he said in the statement.
A park service spokeswoman told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the area was intended to do just the opposite. Roads had to be closed to protect safety during the cattle removal, she said, but the service wanted to make sure protestors still had an area to gather.
The fight dates to at least 1993, since which Bundy has refused to pay the federal government fees for his grazing cows, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1998, a federal court told Bundy to stop letting his cows graze there. And, last July, the same court reaffirmed that order, giving Bundy 45 days to remove the cows before the federal government would. They started Saturday, acting on two federal court orders, they said in a statement that day.
“The BLM and the [National Park Service] have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially,” the Nevada BLM statement read. “The agencies are now implementing two Federal District Court orders to remove the cattle. The BLM and NPS are working closely with local, state and federal officials to ensure that removal occurs in a safe and orderly manner.”
Bundy has insisted that his family owns rights to the land, which it has been working since the 1880s, according to the Los Angeles Times.