BUNKERVILLE, Nev. -- Rancher Cliven Bundy gained national prominence while he was at the center of a land and cattle dispute with the Bureau of Land Management that ended with the BLM releasing impounded cattle, and Bundy has again made headlines--this time for comments viewed by some to be racist.
Bundy said over the weekend in regard to "the Negro" that "And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? 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.”
FOX 13 News' Zach Whitney was there as Bundy responded to the controversy in another press conference. Bundy said his comments were meant as an honest question about the situation facing Americans--not as a racist commentary.
"You seem to think that I said they were better off as slaves, I didn't say that, I said 'I was wondering.' I'm still wondering," he said during a later press conference.
Bundy said he supports freedom and prosperity for everyone.
"I'm happy to see those people be able to have the freedoms and liberty and be able to feel like they're Americans and be able to move and talk and chose their religion," he said.
Bundy later told reporters that maybe he "sinned" and needs to ask forgiveness, but he said if people are offended by words like, "negro" "black boy" or "slave" then: "Martin Luther King hasn't gotten his job done yet." See the video below for these most recent comments.
Gov. Gary Herbert said he has heard about the original comments, and he said if what he heard is true he thinks such comments are "based in ignorance, and are certainly despicable and offensive."
Jeanetta Williams is the president of the NAACP Tri-State Conference of Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and she released the following statement regarding the comments:
"The statement made by Cliven Bundy that Blacks were better off under slavery and picking cotton now depending upon government subsidy clearly shows his ingorance. His overt racist remarks is an attempt to take away attention from his actions. Blacks had nothing to do with him grazing his cattle free on government land for twenty years and now he does not want to pay. What he has done is despicable. He broke the law and should pay the consequences. It was irresponsible for the government officials to back down from Bundy and his malitia group. He would be better off arrested and in jail for breaking the law. That is what is done to criminals. He deserves no less."
Following Bundy's perceived victory over the BLM, he was put forth by some as the face of the battle over control of land between federal and local officials. But in the wake of these remarks, some politicians have publicly denounced Bundy's comments.