SPLC Report: Bundy Ranch Standoff Was Highly Coordinated, Reflecting Threat of Larger Far-Right Militia Movement
“The Bundy ranch standoff wasn’t a spontaneous response to Cliven Bundy’s predicament but rather a well-organized, military-type action that reflects the potential for violence from a much larger and more dangerous movement,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow in the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “This incident may have faded from public view, but if our government doesn’t pay attention, we will be caught off guard as much as the Bureau of Land Management was that day.”
Federal agents pulled out of the standoff and released Bundy’s cattle after militia snipers aimed rifles at them, an act that constitutes a felony.
After the climbdown: Militiamen and other supporters of Cliven Bundy head for the corral where government agents were holding the Nevadan’s cattle. Minutes later, the animals were freed. (Ryan Lenz)
The SPLC has found that a Montana man who leads a militia called Operation Mutual Aid scouted the locations that were used by the snipers.
Ryan Payne, a 30-year-old electrician and former soldier from Anaconda, Montana, told the SPLC that in the days before the standoff he and Bundy toured the public lands the rancher was using, looking for ways to defend them. Payne had snipers in position when the standoff came to a head.
“Not only did they take up the very best position to overwatch everything, they also had the high ground, they were fortified with concrete and pavement barriers,” Payne said. “They had great lines of fire and then, when I sent in that other team, for counter-sniper positions, [the BLM agents] were completely locked down. They had no choice but to retreat.”
The reason, he boasted, was “overwhelming tactical superiority.”