LAS VEGAS (AP) — Cliven Bundy, the Bunkerville rancher at the center of the grazing feud with the federal government, has triggered a backlash of criticism for remarks he made about black people in a New York Times article.

Bundy made disparaging remarks about blacks and asked whether they were better off as slaves.

The article published Wednesday says Bundy’s comments came during a long speech at a sparsely attended news conference Saturday.

Politicians including Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller issued statements condemning the remarks.

Heller last week called Bundy defenders “patriots” for their stand against the government.

Bundy has become a conservative folk hero for resisting attempts by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to round up hundreds of his cattle the agency says are trespassing on public land.

Here is what Bundy told the New York Times:

“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.”


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