One Man Dead and Human Shields

Richard Mack

Two Bureau of Land Management rangers were placed on routine administrative leave in February of this year after a man was shot and killed on State Route 159 near Calico Basin, east of the Las Vegas Strip after he reportedly threatened to shoot the rangers.

In a statement issued by the BLM, rangers responded after receiving multiple calls about a man wandering in and out of the road. Once there, they ordered D’Andre Berghardt Jr. to get out of the road, but claimed he began resisting their commands.

Berghardt was tasered, pepper sprayed and a struck with baton, but failed to comply with directions. He then tried to get into two occupied cars parked along the road.

When that failed he climbed into Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Lucas Schwarzrock’s still running cruiser and reached for the rifle contained in a firearms safety rack, the report said. A video post on the Las Vegas Review Journal shows one ranger shooting Berghardt inside the patrol car multiple times.

“Dude, they just shot him. They just killed the dude,” says a voice on the video.

Berghardt was struck nine times and pronounced dead at the scene. The BLM did not name the two rangers involved, saying only they “have a combined 26 years of law enforcement experience.”

While the shooting did not occur anywhere near last weeks stand-off between rancher Cliven Bundy and the BLM, Utah State Legislator Mike Noel wants to know why BLM rangers are being allowed to patrol state highways. Last year Noel sponsored Utah HB155, limiting BLM and U.S. Park from exercising police power over state and local laws unless someone’s safety is at risk or federal contracts are in place with local police agencies.

“You cannot use our (laws) to arrest our people and issue citations,” Noel said during debated over the proposed bill. “We don’t believe they ever had that authority. Our chief law enforcement officer is the locally elected sheriff who is accountable to the people every four years.”

However the trouble isn’t all one-sided.

Former Graham County Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack on Monday said he and other organizers who traveled to Nevada to support Bundy during the dispute with the feds planned to put women on the front lines in case the “rogue federal officers” started shooting. He made the claim in a video aired on Fox News’ “The Real Story” following the standoff.

“We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front,” he said. “If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

In the end – bad is bad. But unlike the media’s portrayal of those who faced off with the federal government, not all the Minute Men and Patriot’s present were ‘eager’ to shed theirs or anyone else’s blood.

However, there were some among that crowd who were not there simply to show support for Cliven Bundy. Those were the one-percent who taunted and yelled obscenities at BLM rangers.

Otherwise, this was a mostly disciplined and yet not a very organized group, who faced possible death, had the situation gone bad, who believe they were standing on Constitutional principal. And despite what many media figures are saying, it was the outcome that mattered, and that outcome is the backing down of a government that often times anymore is more tyrannical than that of laws.

As one Libertarian TV and radio commentator has been quick to point out this week as he condemns those who were in attendance: “Which path do you choose: One of violence or one of peace with God?”

He must have forgotten what Mark 11:15-16 (NIV) reads: “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.”

My opinion is this – lay aside your arms and instead lock your arms with one another and show strength through peace. An ‘American Spring,” though it sounds good, will not turn out well.

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