“I’ve got 25 grandbabies who won’t see their daddies tonight, or any other night for a long time. My husband won’t be home for a long time either. Other than that, I’m fine.”
That was Carol Bundy’s answer to my question of how she was doing.
A friend and I were having lunch with Carol in the Las Vegas Federal Courthouse. We had driven down, me from Fallon and he from Sparks, to see for ourselves some of the trial of supporters who came to the Bundy ranch in April of 2014 during an invasion of federal agents.
A total of 17 defendants have been divided into three groups and include Cliven Bundy and four of his and Carol’s sons. Carol said the Bundys will probably be tried last and it may be a year before that is done.
“They’re dragging it out,” she said. “It’s part of their plan — wear us down.”
At the session we watched, an FBI agent from Montana was on the stand answering prosecution questions about emails between defendants that the feds had acquired. The emails were between men in various parts of the country and mostly discussed going to Bunkerville to support the Bundys. The prosecution appeared to be taking an excessive amount of time to prove their point ... that there was a conspiracy.
It all started with armed federal agents, mostly from the BLM, and contract cowboys raiding the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville to take Bundy cattle in retribution for Cliven not paying his grazing fees.
Carol said they had “fired” the BLM several years ago because it was not holding up its part of the deal for their grazing rights. She said they didn’t need the BLM’s rights anyway because they had water rights from the state of Nevada and that included forage and rights of way to the water.
The roundup was a mess, she said, with federal agents running roughshod over the protesters and roughly handling the cattle.
“They threw my husband’s sister to the ground and they tasered one of my sons,” she said.
She also said they stressed the cattle with helicopters to the point that many of them died and they even killed several by shooting them from the helicopters.
“We still haven’t found all the mass graves they buried carcasses in.”
Speaking of water rights, Carol said the damage inflicted by the raiders included ripping up pipes Cliven and their sons had installed to move water and even destroying a large water storage tank.
“I don’t know why they would do that unless it was to drive us out,” she said.
Federal agents and agencies have been successful in closing down some 50 ranches in southern Nevada in the past 40 or so years, Carol pointed out, through intimidation, onerous regulations like the use of the Endangered Species Act, or buying them out.
“We’re the last ones standing and they want us gone,” she said.
I asked her how a family holds up under such harsh treatment.
“We are from strong stock,” she said. “My relatives came here on the Mayflower to escape persecution. Being LDS we have known persecution of some sort ever since. We don’t give up easily.”
I asked her how this sort of heavy-handed activity by federal agencies could be stopped and she said, “The people have to be informed. They hear so little about things like this.”
Would she be willing to come to Fallon to tell her story? I asked.
“Maybe,” she replied. “Maybe after these trials are over.”
Jim Falk is a Fallon resident and secretary of the Fallon Tea Party