Bunkerville, NV (KTNV) -- On Wednesday, tensions escalated at the spotlighted cattle roundup after a protester was tased by a law enforcement officer with the Bureau of Land Management.
At the center of the controversy is Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher who believes he has the historical rights to graze his cattle on land near Bunkerville.
The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service said Bundy's cattle have been trespassing on public land. Federal authorities claim that Bundy owes more than $1 million in fees. Now, they're impounding his cattle.
Cliven Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy, said he was the one who was tased. He showed Action News a wound on his neck and a blood stain on his white shirt, which he said are from the taser. Bundy said his aunt was also knocked to the ground by a BLM official during Wednesday's protest.
Dramatic cellphone video captured by another protester shows an altercation between officials and protesters.
Late Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service released the following statement: "The BLM and NPS continue to work closely with local, state and federal officials to ensure the cattle gather occurs safely and with limited disruption to other users and visitors who enjoy our nation’s public lands.
Safety remains the number one priority for the operation. We appreciate the statements we have seen from the Bundy family that they do not condone or encourage violent actions.
In recent days, some peaceful protests have crossed into illegal activity, including blocking vehicles associated with the gather, impeding cattle movement, and making direct and overt threats to government employees. These isolated actions that have jeopardized the safety of individuals have been responded to with appropriate law enforcement actions.
Today, a BLM truck driven by a non-law enforcement civilian employee assisting with gather operations was struck by a protester on an ATV and the truck’s exit from the area was blocked by a group of individuals who gathered around the vehicle. A police dog was also kicked.
Law enforcement officers attempting to protect the civilian federal employee from the attack were also threatened and assaulted. After multiple requests and ample verbal warnings, law enforcement officers deployed tasers on a protester.
Impoundments of livestock are done only as a last resort. In this case, the BLM and the National Park Service have made repeated attempts to resolve the matter with Mr. Bundy administratively and judicially for over 20 years. Mr. Bundy has also failed to comply with multiple court orders that directed him to remove his cattle from public lands lands and to end the illegal trespass."
Ryan Payne and dozens of other protesters have come in from out-of-state to join in. "We will use any means necessary to defend Mr. Bundy and his family and the peaceful people who've gathered here to protest," said Payne.
Protester Stephen Dean from Utah added, "The government didn't create us. We, the people, create the government and at any moment we have the right to alter or abolish it and we're about to alter it."
Watch video of confrontation below. Warning: Video contains graphic language.