LAS VEGAS -- Nevada lawmakers and the public are speaking out about racist comments rancher Cliven Bundy said in a New York Times article published Wednesday.
The comments were made as Bundy addressed a group of his supporters who have gathered in Bunkerville. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times story. "I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, "and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids - and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch - they didn't have nothing to do. They didn't have nothing for their kids to do. They didn't have nothing for their young girls to do.
"And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?" he asked. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
His comments have outraged the public and Nevada politicians.
U.S. Nevada Representative Steven Horsford called the remarks "truly hateful.""His despicable comments about 'the Negro' belong in the dustbin of history. He is not a man who represents the American West's way of life or the dignity of our hard-working Nevada ranchers. In reality, he is a lawbreaker who has been elevated to national folk hero by a conservative media that will jump at any opportunity to mold an anti-government zealot into a righteous crusader."
Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who has spent time at Bundy's ranch with the supporters, issued the following statement:
"I strongly disagree with Cliven Bundy's comments about slavery. Mr. Bundy has said things I don't agree with; however, we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it."
U.S. Senator Harry Reid called Bundy a "hypocrite" and "racist."
"I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met – men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families. By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers."
U.S. Senator Dean Heller said he "condemns Bundy's racist statements in the most strenuous way."
Bundy has gained national attention in recent weeks concerning a legal battle over cattle grazing rights . Rangers with the Bureau of Land Management, acting on a court order, attempted to remove Bundy's cattle from the public land. The cattle have been illegally grazing on the government's property for 20 years. Bundy claims he has "ancestral rights" to use the property.
Supporters, including armed militia , from around the country came to Bundy's defense and disrupted the BLM from continuing the roundup of the cattle. BLM officials called off the roundup out of concerns for safety .
The statements created a firestorm on social media with some condemning Bundy and others posting comments that the "liberal media" has twisted Bundy's words.
"We KNOW how it was meant....they are twisting it to make him look bad...thats all...but we know the truth," Melinda Wright III posted on the Bundy Facebook page .
"That's right ... play the racism card and distract folks from the REAL issue ... an overreaching government and overreaching bureaucratic nightmare that needs to be squelched ... stay on point folks!" Art Vuilleumier wrote.