Rancher Cliven Bundy explains racially charged comments - 8 News NOW

Rancher Cliven Bundy explains racially charged comments

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BUNKERVILLE, Nev. -- During an address to supporters and the media Friday, rancher Cliven Bundy asked forgiveness from anyone who he might have offended with comments about blacks in America.

"Sometimes I say the right thing, sometimes I say the wrong thing," Bundy said. "There is an issue, of racial issue yesterday and it got sort of bad. They figured I was probably one of the worst racial people on the whole earth, but I never did believe that. I believe that the people that did listen to me knew better."

The address came after comments Bundy made earlier this week that were racially charged.

The comments were first reported in a New York Times article. Bundy said in reference to African-Americans at a housing project in North Las Vegas that he wondered, "are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

On Friday, Bundy said he spoke from his heart because he is concerned about everyone's freedoms. He also stated he believes everyone should have equal rights, freedom of speech, freedom of employment and family unity.

"I don't see color. Everyone looks the same to me," Bundy said. He stated that he thinks people of all races should be talking about liberty and freedom.

Bundy also talked one on one to 8 News NOW about the controversial comments.

"(What apology do you want to get across?) I want them to wake up and see what I'm saying. I want them not to be prejudice. I don't want them to be, I want them to realize, they're their self. Each of us is ourselves. It don't matter what color we are," Bundy said.

"(But are you sorry for your words that have offended people?) If i offe… I'm not sorry for my words, and I don't think I've offended people, so I'm not sorry. I really am not sorry," Bundy continued.

"(You have offended people.) Well, I'm sorry about that. I'm sorry that I have offended people, but I am not sorry about what I said. I stand by what I said, because I felt like that I said it from my heart and I said good things." the rancher said.

In a post to his Facebook page Friday, he compared himself to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and said he was working to fulfill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's dream, but he wanted to clear the air on the comments that turned the cattle battle into a racial one.

"Her taking her seat in the front of the bus didn't fulfill the reverend's dream. His dream was that Rosa Park could sit anywhere in the bus and I said for the last 40-50 years, the Negro community, the black community, see I said that word again, I'm in trouble," Bundy laughed, "The black community has been sitting in the proper seat in the front of the bus, but have they really had the freedom and liberty and enjoyment of sitting anywhere in the bus? And what I said, the statement this morning is I'd be proud to sit with Rosa anywhere in the bus."

Many elected leaders were quick to condemn Bundy's comments.

Bundy has been locked in a battle with the Bureau of Land Management over his cattle grazing on public lands. The BLM says he has not paid grazing fees for 20 years. Bundy says he has 'ancestral rights' and does not have to pay the fees to the federal government.

He addressed that issue during Friday's news conference, repeating his stance that he would pay the fees to the proper authority and the federal government is not that authority.

"They do not own this land. They do not have a title to it," Bundy said.

Supporters from across the country have converged on Bundy's ranch near Bunkerville, many of them armed. They believe the BLM's effort to remove Bundy's cattle is government overreach and vow to stay until the dispute is resolved.

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