I-Team: Political cause growing in Bundy's dispute with BLM - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Political cause growing in Bundy's dispute with BLM

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Bundy supporters at corral  Saturday Bundy supporters at corral Saturday
Sign put up by the BLM Sign put up by the BLM
Bundy talking to crowd on Monday Bundy talking to crowd on Monday

LAS VEGAS -- Tensions remain high at the Bundy cattle ranch in Bunkerville as self-described militia patrol the grounds.

They say they're sticking around, believing armed federal agents will return.

The protestors at Cliven Bundy's ranch say this is about a lot more than cattle. They showed that Saturday when Bundy delivered an ultimatum to Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to arrest federal officers.

His demands and ultimatums appear to grow by the day backed up by some high-powered rifles.

On a bridge in Bunkerville, holding a high-power scoped rifle, one man took cover, prepared to shoot and prepared to die.

"I'm here to protect our freedom. It had to happen sometime. It might as well happen now," he said.

This Saturday, he took position with other gunmen, taking the high ground as federal agents waited in the wash below.

Between them, men, women and their children marched towards a fence.

"They're getting ready to launch stuff at us - get ready," one armed man said.

On the other side of the fence, the Bureau of Land Management agents, also armed, also took cover. They guarded a corral filled with Cliven Bundy's cattle.

Sheriff Gillespie said he wanted to discuss a compromise with Bundy in private. Instead, Bundy compelled the sheriff to address him in public.

"You and I have had the ability to sit down and talk before on a number of occasions. We may not always agree, but we have been respectful," Gillespie said.

After Sheriff Gillespie announced the BLM would leave Bunkerville, Cliven Bundy looked at the sheriff and delivered his new ultimatum.

"Disarm the park service at Lake Mead and Red Rock park and all other parks where the federal government claims they have jurisdiction over," Bundy said, "We want those arms delivered right here under these flags in one hour."

Bundy told a crowd on Monday that after an early morning prayer, he turned his demand into a mandate for county sheriffs nationwide to arrest and disarm federal officers.

Cliven Bundy's son Mel perhaps best describes the evolving political philosophy of the protesters.

"We've got to get America back up on its feet," Mel Bundy said, "This cattle issue is just one small corner of the problem that we're having as citizens with the federal government. Get out of our states."

The protestors, talk radio hosts, random political leaders and Nevada Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore all stand in support of Bundy's call for county sheriffs nationwide to arrest federal officers.

It was up to BLM special agent Dan Love to negotiate the government retreat Saturday.

"No gun pointing. No guns," Love asked the crowd.

"This is our land! Open the gates!" one woman shouted.

An exchange between Love and Cliven Bundy's son Ammon showed how tense the situation was.

"You need to push these people back so they can do it safely," Love said.

"You leave," Bundy replied.

"They're going to. They can't leave it. They're engaged. So push them back," Love said.

Judging by the protesters signs, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., finds himself in the middle of this controversy.

The I-Team asked Sen. Reid his take on Bundy ignoring three federal court orders.

"Even the Nevada Cattlemen's Association, one of the most conservative organizations in the country, they don't support what is going on over there. They want people to follow the law just like we all do." Sen. Reid said.

On the streets of Las Vegas, when gunmen point weapons at sworn peace officers, they are often shot and killed, but in Bunkerville, these men held the bridge.

The difference between these gunmen and gunmen in our urban streets comes down to a political cause.

"At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand and I guess this is it," one gunman said.

8 News NOW didn't get this man's name. Our photographer was fearful of possible crossfire should shooting happen and kept moving.

But the gunman, and the others pledge to be back, because these anti-federalist protestors got their first victory.

Not by the ballot, not by rallies, but on a bridge with guns aimed at police.

Cliven Bundy's family worked their ranch land since 1877. The family claims ancestral and sovereign rights.

On Monday, the I-Team received a map from the Moapa band of Paiute Indians showing how the land the Bundy ranch is at was promised to them by federal treaty.

That is until federal troops forced the tribe out and families, including the Bundy family settled in.

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