Hero of “land rights.” “Domestic terrorist,” says the narrator. “Sovereign citizen,” says the narrator. “Insurrectionist.”
Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher, has a slew of nicknames, each one based on a different fault line in the country’s fractious political landscape.
Regardless, the Nevada rancher will skip Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds’ annual Spring Planting Festival, which will take place May 5 and 6 at the Baker Creek property near Mansfield.
Midday Monday, Baker Creek and a Bundy family member verified the news.
It only took a few days after Bundy’s anticipated attendance became known for the cancellation to occur.
Bundy, who is most known for an armed standoff with law enforcement in 2014 over unpaid payments for cattle-grazing rights on publicly owned property, will speak about his experience producing ancient crookneck watermelons in arid climatic conditions, Baker Creek reported Thursday.
Both sides stated that the cancellation notification on Monday was a joint decision.
“Cliven Bundy will not be attending our Spring Planting Festival next week,” the Baker Creek Facebook page said shortly before noon.
“After much deliberation, both Bundy and Baker Creek personnel concur that his presence might pose a safety risk to all attendees.”
Ammon Bundy, one of Cliven Bundy’s sons, verified the story over the phone from Emmett, Idaho.
“People are aware that this group has effectively denied my father’s request to speak for political purposes,” he told the News-Leader. “That will be recognized and seen, you know. I can’t say I blame them. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t blame them, and my father surely wants to make things as simple and quiet as possible for them to hold their event and achieve their goals.”
“The facts and the truth will show clearly what really happened,” he continued, “and that is they invited my father for his knowledge and experience in being able to grow rare seeds in a desert climate using very little water, and (he) wanted to share that knowledge, and (he) wanted to share that knowledge, and they uninvited him for political reasons.”
Baker Creek’s public relations worker, Kathy McFarland, claimed the corporation had discovered that Bundy opponents were planning to protest the Spring Planting Event near the festival venue.
“Yes, that was our worry,” she told the News-Leader at noon Monday. “At first, we assumed that (resistance to the anticipated Bundy visit) was only a result of individuals discussing it on social media. However, since it looked to be a well-planned scheme endangering our merchants, we felt obligated to our festival-goers.”
Baker Creek is only accessible by one road, according to McFarland.
According to a Vox piece, she informed the News-Leader that Baker Creek was unaware of Bundy’s 2014 statements on African Americans, which some, including Nevada Senator Dean Heller, characterized as “appalling and racist.”
Bundy gave a press conference that year, assuring reporters that he is not a racist, but that he wonders whether black people were better off as slaves than they are now, according to the USA TODAY Network. The remarks sparked a significant response.
Bundy’s son spoke out in defense of his father on Monday.
“I don’t believe he regrets his remarks,” Ammon Bundy stated. “He laments not being able to express himself adequately. My father is not a racist; in fact, he is the polar opposite of a racist. He is a people person. He holds each person in high regard. He doesn’t see them as people of any color, race, or ethnicity. He is a man who sincerely loves and appreciates individuals and those who are closest to them. But I believe he said something he afterward regretted.”
Bundy said, “Mostly because of his age and because he didn’t realize there were more politically acceptable terms he could use. I believe he regrets it.”
By late Monday morning, a page on Baker Creek’s website that announced a roster of 20 festival speakers had been modified to remove references to speaker appearances.