The following is a guest spot on this blog, as written by Jodi Thornley. Jodi lives near the Bundy Ranch in Nevada and offers her unique perspective. This is posted with her permission.
My experience with the BLM and the Bundy Ranch,
By Jodi Thornley
I began to notice many many BLM vehicles in the area early last week so I started asking questions and quickly found out that the BLM was here to rustle up Cliven Bundy’s cattle who they say are trespassing on Federal land. I heard about and saw pictures of snipers on the mesa and surrounding hills, I saw the BLM compound along I-15. I was sent by a close friend a picture of the “first amendment zone” the BLM had set up for the public to protest in. I immediately drove to the site to see it for myself and could not believe my eyes! It was literally a corral made out of plastic orange fencing. I got out of the car to look and snap a photo. I quickly realized that my daughter who happens to use a wheelchair for mobility would not be able to access this area even if our family chose to exercise our rights in this way. We also learned that Davey Bundy had been violently arrested for taking pictures with his I-pad along SR 170 and taken to the BLM compound for a few hours and then transported to Henderson Police Department. He was booked there and spent the night. I learned of a protest happening at the Bundy ranch and quickly gathered my entire family and headed to the Bundy Ranch. Reporters interviewed my children, we met up with friends and neighbors and began to speak about our concerns. On our drive from Mesquite to Bunkerville we saw armed personnel stationed at EVERY dirt road that exited off of the main highway (SR 170) we saw armed personnel on the surrounding hills as well. I felt scared and unsecure on the road I had driven on for years, its was so strange and frightening to say the least! After some time had passed we gathered and decided to go out closer to the main road on some private property so we loaded up our family and a friend and headed out, we stopped at the blue barn like we were told and got out of our vehicle. We could hear shots being fired in close proximity and for the life of me I could not figure out why shots were being fired this close to a home and a gathering of men, women, children and service dogs, I thought they were just there rounding up cattle? We then learned from other supporters that we were to continue on to the old motel site located right off of (SR 170) just up the road from Bundy Ranch. The owner had given permission to gather there on his private property. There we had a rally of sorts to get all the pertinent information on the situation. As a group we erected two 50foot flag poles at the protest site, on the top of the poles it says WE THE PEOPLE and a huge banner was place in between the two poles. This became the official protest site. I continued to support the Bundys at the protest site and also I started a petition on change.org that was sent to our sheriff, our county commissioner, our attorney general and our Governor to try and get the word to our officials in that way and I made many many calls as well. I was there at the protest site with my signs on Wednesday April 9th 2014. We watched as a convoy of BLM vehicles left the highway and headed up the hill in a cloud of dust, we watched them meet up with another convoy of vehicles approximately 15 in all including a dump truck and backhoe. We got thinking…why are they moving dirt up there in the mountains? We surmised that they must be burying the dead cattle they have killed during the roundup. We went down for a closer look. I was a little bit behind some of the others but when I arrived I couldn’t understand why the convoy didn’t just keep moving up the road in the direction they were going? Some officers got out of their vehicles, (two with dogs) and approached the crowd of protesters who were yelling “go home” to the convoy. I think it is important to note at this time the protesters present were local friends and family of the Bundy’s no “militia” were there and not one protester had a weapon.) we were in close proximity to the vehicles and yelling at them but I saw no reason why at this time I witnessed a BLM officer hold down one of Margaret’s arms, wrap his other arm around her body from behind, lift her up and body slam her to the ground and then just walk away as looked down at her as she lay there trying to understand what had just happened? This is not how Law enforcement are trained to respond!!! No policy, training, code or precedent justified this act of violence under the color of law. After we witnessed this, the crowd got upset! Nobody treats a woman like that! This action made the situation worse and incited the crowd. Another officer told another lady to watch out or she would get bit as his dog lunged toward her, which then upset other women close by, you don’t threaten a lady in that way because she is yelling! An officer gave the command to his dog to attack Ammon Bundy, to which his reaction was to raise his leg and kick at the dog that was attacking him. Right after that Ammon was tased a few times in succession, he and others close by him kept ripping the probes off of him as he was shot again but he never did go down. We were finally able to see inside of the dump truck and were completely shocked by what we saw. Inside the dump truck was water pipes and paraphernalia from the infrastructure of the range that had been built over more than 100 years. For the life of me I can’t understand why the government would senselessly ripped out improvements made to this land other than for spiteful ulterior motives. Why are they wasting our time and resources? I thought they were gathering cattle? Were they trying to thirst the cattle out? These and many other questions came to my mind as this incident progressed. I just don’t understand their motives? Once the officers gathered themselves, calmed down and actually started talking they asked us to back up so they could get to their vehicles. We complied and they left. Had they conducted themselves professionally in the first place, it might not have escalated like it did but with the complete brute force and lack of professionalism that I witnessed, I was very disappointed. Behavior like this gives all law enforcement a bad name. Law enforcement are yelled at all the time and they are taught how to handle themselves professionally and handle the situation correctly which is not what I witnessed at all.
As video surfaced of this event, people all over the world became upset and started to make their way here in support of the Bundy family. People from every walk of life responded for many reasons. Some had different agendas than the Bundy family did and had the potential of hijacking the whole cause in my opinion. As we gathered Saturday to hear what our county sheriff, Doug Gillespie had to say to us I was a bit nervous. He announced that the BLM was going to cease their operation, reopen the Bunkerville allotment to the public and the BLM would be gathering their assets and vacate the area. The crowd went crazy, we were all so pleased! When Cliven Bundy got the microphone he said “We the people want a few more things.” He wanted the BLM and the Park service disarmed and the gates to public lands torn down today in one hour. He asked the media to follow up and report back in that hour. We waited for an hour and twenty minutes approximately and no media had a report to deliver so we decided to go see for ourselves if the BLM looked like they were packing up. The cowboys on horseback led the way as the rest of us made it to our vehicles and headed to the compound. WE gathered along I-15 and started walking down to Toquop wash. As we made it to the bottom of the dirt road under the bridge, Ammon Bundy gathered us together and we knelt in a prayer to our God for our safety and to find a peaceful resolution to this situation. Ammon also informed the crown that they were not to raise their weapons, they were to keep their weapons trained at the ground or in the air. He told us not to give them a reason to get escalate their response against us and we needed to stay calm. He said “we can stand here for as long as it takes, we will get food and water to you but we will not resort to violence.” As we met up with the cowboys on horseback we all lined up behind them and started walking towards the gate. I looked around and saw some really upset people who had weapons and couldn’t help but think that all it would take is one crazy person to start something really bad. I personally kept some protesters calm as we were being told we would be shot by the BLM repeatedly over the loudspeaker. I could not understand why they were not abiding by the law and not backing down and leaving since the sheriff who is the highest law in this county told us they would. My mind was racing thinking who will take care of my kids if I die here today? I don’t have a weapon to defend myself either. Each time these thoughts entered into my mind a peace came over me and I knew it was the right thing to do and I was in the right place doing what I needed to be doing and everything would be ok. I kept hearing myself telling people to calm down and take a deep breath and let things work themselves out. My husband who is a law enforcement officer and works with individuals with problems day in and day out was also a calming voice in the crowd and reminding people we were here for a peaceful end to this and reminding people what Ammon had told us that we would stand here for as long as it takes but we would not resort to violence and we would not give them a reason to resort to violence either. As I witnessed the BLM trucks backing away from the gate I felt so proud and so happy to have been there and done my part as an American citizen. To help keep the peace and see this end well. I am here to tell you that it is nothing short of a miracle what happened under that bridge that day, something I may never witness again in my lifetime. There is a reason why all the hotheaded individuals interspersed through the crowd did not act on their gut instincts. There was a Higher Power present that we had invoked that kept things calm. There is more to this story here than meets the eye. There are a lot of mistruths out there in the media and I wanted to give you all my true perspective from the “front lines” if you will, of what truly happened and what did not happen. There is evil at work all around this situation and hidden motives why the federal government wants the cattle off of this land. It is much bigger than unpaid grazing fees! It will all come out later but I would rather be a part of stopping it than standing by watching it happen and then saying “whoops, I guess I should have stood up to the feds back then when I had a chance.” We could not control who showed up and some people with negative intentions become involved but I can tell you that I knew who was there for the right reasons and had a good heart and who wasn’t. It took all of us who were there for the right reasons to calm down those who were not or who had another agenda to suit their own purposes. I am proud to be an American and will always stand up for my rights that I hold so dear. I love you all and hope this will help clear up some of the lies and rumors being spread out there in the media. I am 100% convinced that each of these huge events that happened (the arrest, the altercation over the dump truck and backhoe and the standoff on Saturday) happened exactly the way they were supposed to happen and we were protected by a higher power for the right reasons. This experience will be something I will tell my grandchildren and great grandchildren about and be glad that I was a small part of it.
This whole operation went wrong from the very beginning planning stage and behind the scenes with the BLM management. I’m not sure what ancient rule book they were getting their tactics from but we no longer function in this way in this country! At every step of this event, they escalated the situation to a new ridiculous level. They very nearly initiated a deadly conflict over cattle! The complete arrogance and brute force they came in here with, complete with snipers, dogs and an army of incompetent, cocky officers is just appalling. How they could have expected any other response from “The People” than what they received is irresponsible and unreasonable. It is only by the assistance of God that this worked out peacefully like it did. Or perhaps these “extremists” were not that extreme at all. Who showed restraint when being threatened with bodily harm? It wasn’t the BLM! They kept coming back with more ridiculous actions like closing airspace to all Americans? That can only lead one to believe they have something to hide and excite more tensions.
I hope whomever reads this understands that this is a point of view from someone who was there the whole time. I am a conservative mother of four children (two with an extremely rare progressive neuromuscular disorder) I’m just the average, mostly stay at home mother, who will stand up for injustices when I need to. I volunteer to help in many capacities in my city, other larger cities, and state of Nevada. I’m an advocate through and through. Especially for those who do not have a voice. Please do not believe all the rhetoric that is out there in the media and on the world wide web, most of it is unfounded and nothing more than rumors, please ask others who were there first before forming your opinion. I am not anti-government! I am in favor of a smaller government and one that is governed with moral fiber and is of the people by the people and for the people! WE need to keep our government in check and make sure they are not overreaching into things they have no business being in, that’s when corruption and horrible things happen, just check throughout history!
I love all people. Have a fabulous day and hug somebody today and always smile, you never know who needs one! Tell your family how much you love and appreciate them! Much love being sent out from the Thornley household in Mesquite Nevada.