UPDATE: As of Saturday morning, the BLM has announced, ABC News reports, that it will for now cease trying to enforce the court order against Bundy and is leaving the area:
"Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," BLM Director Neil Kornze said.
"We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner," he said.
KLAS-TV from Vegas reports that the BLM intends to still sell the cattle it has already confiscated, but might share the revenue with Bundy.
Original post from Friday: I blogged the other day about a still-ongoing conflict in Nevada, where the Bureau of Land Management is making good on a long-time threat, and court orders, to begin confiscating the cattle of a recalcitrant rancher, Cliven Bundy.
Bundy insists he has old family rights to the land that predate the BLM's and thus refuses to pay their fees and continues to graze his cattle on BLM land. His truculent refusal to stop grazing his cattle allegedly represents a mortal threat to the endangered desert tortoise (a tortoise so precious to the federal government that it is happy to kill hundreds of them when government is inconvenienced by them).
Even Nevada's Gov. Brian Sandoval has spoken out against BLM:
my office has received numerous complaints of BLM misconduct, road closures and other disturbances. I have recently met with state legislators, county officials and concerned citizens to listen to their concerns. I have expressed those concerns directly to the BLM."
"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. To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the 'First Amendment Area' should be dismantled immediately. No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.
Bundy has the kind of attitude toward the federal government--he thinks it doesn't have legitimate authority over him even where state or local government might--that resonates with those who still hold fealty to the old "militia movement," so rumors fly of allegedly hundreds of citizen "militiamen" coming to his aid.
In response to this, Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins got very, very verbally threatening indeed, in a conversation with a Utah county commissioner named Darin Bushman, who:
called Collins about the Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy's cattle in the Gold Butte area, about 80 miles east of Las Vegas. The cattle are being seized after Bundy failed to pay grazing fees over 20 years. When the conversation ended, Bushman posted on Facebook that Collins said Utahns are "inbred bastards" and if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they "better have funeral plans."
Collins also told Bushman that they should mind their "own (expletive) business."….
In an interview, Collins downplayed Bushman's elected office, noting his county has only about 1,500 people. Census data shows the tiny rural county has just 1,556 people.
"I'm trying to do everything I can to discourage anybody who tells me they're coming here with loaded guns," Collins said. "I'm going to tell them not to come."….
Bushman said he told Collins he was heading to the protest and expected some people from his county to be there, as the issue has attracted the concerns of Utah ranchers.
"This guy was just off-the-hook weird," Bushman said. "I've never ran into a fellow commissioner who treated me like that."….
When asked if he had any regrets about what he told the county commissioner from Utah, Collins said: "I've got no regrets about what I said to that son of a bitch."
Lots of local supporters already have come to protest the BLM in person. Here's an interesting video of federal authorities standing off with citizens, including tasing them and throwing a woman to the ground for standing in the way of one of their trucks: