Friday, May 9, 2014 | 9:59 a.m.
Militiamen and woman camping on Cliven Bundy’s cattle ranch are packing up and heading to Utah where another protest against the Bureau of Land Management will happen Saturday.
Ryan Payne, a Montana resident who had been staying at the ranch for a month, said he drove eight hours to arrive in the eastern Utah town this morning. Three militia members from the ranch and a handful of people from a group called Citizens Action Network came to Utah, too, he said.
"This is where it’s happening Saturday,” he said.
They and others Saturday will be armed, he said, and ride ATVs into Recapture Canyon, an area the BLM declared off-limits to motorized vehicles in 2007. The ride is organized by San Juan County, Utah, Commissioner Phil Lyman.
Payne met Friday morning with the San Juan County, Utah, Sheriff Rick Eldridge. Afterward, he said he expects Saturday’s protest to be peaceful because Eldridge pledged to “protect us from the BLM.”
Payne characterized their discussion, saying Eldridge has contacted other sheriff’s departments who “stated that if he needed support to get the BLM out of there, they would help.”
Also in Utah this week, two people in a pick-up confronted a BLM wrangler on Interstate 15. They drove by wearing hoods and held a sign that said, “You need to die.” One of the men pointed a handgun at the wrangler, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
At Recapture Canyon, federal officials aren’t planning to send armed federal agents to the Utah protest like they did with the Bundy ranch in April. The BLM’s show of force, including tasering one of Bundy’s sons, helped spark a heavily armed confrontation between federal agents and the Bundy militia on April 12.
Megan Crandall, BLM Utah spokeswoman, told The Durango Herald the BLM will not be sending “reinforcements” to the area.
Eldridge was out at the scene of tomorrow’s protest, a woman who answered the phone at the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said. She pointed to the office’s Facebook page, which contained this statement today:
“San Juan County Sheriff's deputies will be at the event in Recapture Canyon on Saturday, May 10th. Our deputies will be there to keep the peace and protect the Constitutional rights of everyone involved. We feel this will be a peaceful event and encourage everyone to be respectful to one another and allow individuals to exercise their First Amendment right.”
Payne said Eldridge’s stance is “180 degrees” different than the reaction from the Clark County sheriff’s office during the Bundy-BLM confrontation.
“This is a continuation of the Bundy affair,” Payne said of the protest. “But it kind of shows the flipside of what happens when the sheriff upholds his oath.”
Similar to the Bundy Ranch fight, this one has gone on for years and has been tinged with strong rhetoric. In 2011, someone posted “Wanted, Dead or Alive” posters near the canyon, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, threatening a group that wanted more protection for the area.