Horsford working with sheriff to get armed campers to go home

It’s time for the armed campers currently living on the Cliven Bundy ranch in Bunkerville to go.

That’s the message from Rep. Steven Horsford, who says he gets daily calls of concern from residents who are uncomfortable with armed would-be militia members that flocked to that tiny rural Nevada town after Bundy called for help. They faced down Bureau of Land Management officers who’d been charged with rounding up cattle that Bundy had allowed to illegally graze on federal land for more than 20 years.

But now the BLM operation is over and the residents of this rural Nevada town just want things to get back to normal. He said he heard complaints at a Mesquite pancake breakfast about the militias, and was even asked about it by a fifth-grade schoolgirl.

“It’s not an environment where people feel safe,” Horsford said.

As a result, Horsford said he’s been working with Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to alert him to incidents on the ground, including militia members allegedly establishing “checkpoints” and only allowing people to pass after they prove their residency. Horsford says his staff will be in daily contact with the sheriff’s office as they work to resolve the situation.

“We are all working toward a resolution where they leave,” Horsford said.

Some, fearing a federal government drone strike, have already left, creating a rift in the various factions at the ranch. Others stay, ostensibly fearing that BLM officers will return to start re-gathering Bundy’s cattle if they depart.

In a letter to Gillespie dated on Sunday, Horsford acknowledges the arrangement, and indicates that Gillespie will brief other state officials on the situation in Bunkerville. Horsford said it’s important that elected officials unite behind the idea that armed protesters need to leave the area.

Some Nevada elected officials have criticized the BLM, and sided with Bundy. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller even called the armed protesters — some of whom indicated they were willing to engage in armed conflict with agents of the United States government — “patriots” before later backing off those remarks. And five Republican state lawmakers have called for legislative hearings into the BLM’s actions.

But Horsford insists that residents of the area — most longtime residents who mostly know each other — would prefer if the gun-toting newcomers would just go home. And he’s asked Gov. Brian Sandoval, Heller and others to join that call.