Commentary

Following the mistrial declared in the case against rancher Cliven Bundy and codefendants, public lands advocates hosted a press conference Wednesday to respond to what they called a “miscarriage of justice” and the potential ramifications for public lands such as Gold Butte National Monument.

Rudy Zamora, director of Chispa NV:

Our federal public lands are important to all of Nevada’s families. And we deserve to be safe in those places. This week charges were dismissed against the Bundys and their allies with no chance of a retrial. This announcement may embolden more extremists who share the Bundys’ anti-public land and anti-government views to do the same. This is not justice and it does not make our community safer.

Fawn Douglas, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe member:

This week’s news tells us that once again, people like the Bundys can break the law and walk free, no matter the destruction they cause on public lands sacred to indigenous communities in Southern Nevada and across the Wes. The Bundys staged their standoff right next to Gold Butte, a sacred area meant to be protected for future generations, not taken over by armed extremists. Southern Paiute leaders have spent decades peacefully advocating for the protection of these lands, our ancestral lands. But the Bundys have no respect for our rights and our history, just like they have no respect for public management of special places like Gold Butte.

Maria-Teresa Liebermann, deputy director of Battle Born Progress:

For decades, Cliven Bundy ignored the law by illegally grazing his livestock on public lands, ignored court orders, and refused to pay more than $1 million in fees and fines. Rather than be held accountable for his actions, Bundy encouraged an armed standoff next to Gold Butte, which Bundy claims is not protected federal public land. The 2014 standoff also served as inspiration for an act of violence against our own law enforcement. Their release puts our public lands, including Gold Butte National Monument, at risk and endangers people visiting the area or trying to do their jobs on our public lands.

Christopher Scott , American Values Network:

Nobody should be surprised by this for many reasons. Monday’s dismissal was hinted at last month when Judge Navarro ordered a mistrial. However, the mistrial that led us ultimately to this week’s dismissal was not merely a mistrial but also a miscarriage of justice. The one tall irony to this whole thing: Cliven Bundy and his family are all free today because the very system they are so hell-bent on defying and destroying actually works ... and works in their favor. Four times now — in high-profile cases in Nevada and Oregon — the Bundy family and its allies have beaten the federal government in court.

Pastor Ralph Williamson, Faith Organizing Alliance:

Our communities deserve to be safe wherever they are and especially in our public lands where we can enjoy our natural heritage. The Bundys used guns to express their displeasure with the government and have been released without trial. This is the exact opposite of safety and a clear lack of justice. The armed militias who aimed their weapons on federal law enforcement officials committed a crime and should be held accountable. This decision is an example of continuing racial inequalities in our justice system. All of us must condemn the actions of the Bundys. The way they went about their business is not how we solve our problems as a community.

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