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(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Wild horses on BLM land northwest of Cedar City, Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
Editorial: Federal employees don’t deserve to be attacked

Thuggish behavior is unjustified.

First Published May 09 2014 03:44 pm • Last Updated May 11 2014 11:43 am

The two men who threatened a Bureau of Land Management employee who was just doing his job, driving a truck on I-15 the other day, may not qualify as domestic terrorists. But there is no doubt they are moronic, dangerous and deserving of criminal prosecution.

The federal horse wrangler was driving a truckload of horses and burros on the freeway near Mills in Juab County when two people drove alongside in a big pickup and "flipped off" the driver with an obscene gesture.

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Not content with that show of provincial ignorance, the two again caught up with the truck, and the two men, hiding their identities behind hoods, in the age-old manner of hoodlums, criminals and the Ku Klux Klan, held up a sign reading, "You need to die."

They had obscured the pickup’s license plate with duct tape. One of the men pointed a handgun at the wrangler.

The Utah Highway Patrol has promised to thoroughly investigate the incident and is searching for the pickup and its occupants. When they are found, they deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No person, no matter who his employer is or what political brouhaha currently rages, should have to endure such threats.

The two thugs are probably among supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who have been threatening BLM officers and employees since a standoff over Bundy’s illegal refusal to pay grazing fees. Anti-government groups brandished guns at federal workers who were trying to confiscate Bundy’s cows near Bunkerville, Nev.

Some of these misguided anarchists consider their lawlessness to be a form of patriotism in a confused idiocy that declares the federal government the enemy and federal employees fair game.

It’s probably prudent that BLM workers in western Utah are removing the agency’s logos from their vehicles. But it’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Utah, where even the Legislature encourages the convoluted idea that public lands in the West, lands owned by all Americans, somehow are the property of local residents to do with as they please.

Politicians in Utah and Nevada who sided with Bundy and his disdain for the law must take some responsibility for the actions of extremists who put the lives of ordinary citizens in danger.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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