BUNKERVILLE, Nev. (AP) - A Nevada congressman wants the sheriff in Las Vegas to investigate reports that armed militia members from out-of-state are scaring residents living near a rancher engaged in a feud with the federal government over trespassing cattle.
A spokeswoman for Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said Tuesday that while police are looking into Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford’s request, there hasn’t been a criminal allegation to investigate.
“We would need a victim to come forward and file a complaint,” said Officer Laura Meltzer, department spokeswoman.
Horsford, who toured the remote desert area he represents last week, said constituents told him that armed militia members have set up checkpoints where residents are required to prove they live in the Bunkerville area before they are allowed to pass.
Militia members have remained in place since a gunpoint standoff April 12 prompted the federal Bureau of Land Management to abandon efforts to round up rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle some 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The roundup stemmed from a 20-year-old dispute over habitat for the endangered tortoise and the government’s claim that Bundy owes about $1.1 million in grazing fees and penalties. Federal judges have ordered Bundy’s cattle removed from the range.
Horsford says the militia members are maligning the town’s peaceful reputation. He says some residents fear for their safety.
“We must respect individual constitutional liberties, but residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia,” Horsford said in a letter to the sheriff. “Residents have expressed their desire to see these groups leave their community.”
Self-described militia members who arrived from such states as New Hampshire, Montana and Arizona have said they don’t intend to leave until the Bundys say it’s time to go.
“Nobody has really backed down on either side,” she said. “We don’t plan on getting violent. We’re not out to overstep the bounds of our local government. But it’s our constitutional right to protect ourselves.”