Betrayed with a Handshake
FBI Turns Peaceful Protest into Deadly Standoff
Governor Kate Brown and Senator Ron Wyden call for Immediate End to Occupation of the Refuge.
By Scott Rohter, January 27 2016
“It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” – F.D.R.
Not far from Custer’s last stand along a remote strip of highway in southeastern Oregon, near the little town of Burns there is a small wooden cross lovingly placed in the snow. It marks the place where Robert Lavoy Finicum died. He was shot in the back three times by two Oregon State police officers for his role in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It is a rather crude little cross that was hastily erected in the snow to mark the exact spot where Lavoy Finicum fell… where was murdered and where he made HIS last stand defending the Constitution and the kind of America that he believed in.
Robert Lavoy Finicum was deliberately killed by Oregon State Police officers after the truck he was driving crashed into a snow bank next to a roadblock that was intentionally positioned along a blind curve in the road. When he exited the vehicle trying to draw their gunfire away from the other passengers his hands were up in the air in a sign of surrender. The crude wooden cross placed where he lay marks Finicum’s last stand. I hope it does not represent the last time that Americans are willing to risk their lives for freedom and stand for the Constitution which protects their freedom. The place where Finicum died is a place where tall Pine Trees dot the hills. It is the place where America’s first LGBT Governor, and its two Democrat Senators called on Barack Obama to bring in Federal Agents to end a peaceful protest at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge thirty miles east of the little town of Burns.
A handful of demonstrators who had taken over the Refuge were trying to draw attention to the plight of two local ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond who were wrongly convicted and twice wrongly incarcerated in a double jeopardy situation that violates the 5th Amendment. These demonstrators were also protesting against egregious, and unconstitutional land use policies of the Federal Government in twelve western states where the Federal Government claims ownership over half the land west of the Rocky Mountains. I don’t remember Democrats being that upset when Occupy Wall Street demonstrators took over parts of Eugene and Portland in an attempt to call attention to the abuses of Wall Street a few years ago.
Half of the land in Oregon is controlled by the Federal Government. If you live in Oregon and you would like to see the control of public land returned to the State and to the Counties and to the people then please read and sign this petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/oregons-federally-administered-lands
This is another link to a separate NATIONAL PETITION TO RETURN CONTROL OF ALL FEDERAL LAND ADMINISTERED BY THE BLM TO THE STATES AND COUNTIES RESPECTIVELY OR TO THE PEOPLE. PLEASE SIGN IT AND SHARE IT. YOUR NAME WILL NOT BE PLACED ON A MAILING LIST. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/congressional-petition-regarding-federal-lands
The huge 180,000 acre Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the little town of Burns, Oregon has doubled in size since it was originally created back in 1908 by Congress at the insistence of Teddy Roosevelt. It seemed like the perfect place to draw attention to the current problem of Federal ownership of State Land, but instead it became the proximity of a murder instead and the place where the Bureau of Land Management finally got their revenge on Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Oregon was the place where the Feds found a way to even the score with him for refusing to kowtow to the BLM in an earlier dispute he had with them over his own land rights in Nevada.
With their hands in the air so everyone could see that they posed no threat to anybody, eight loyal Americans including two of Cliven Bundy’s own sons, Ammon and Ryan surrendered to authorities after one of the group’s leaders was murdered in cold blood by Oregon State Police Officers. The government assault on Lavoy Finicum occurred along a remote stretch of road in eastern Oregon as members of the Committee for Constitutional Freedom were headed to a community meeting in Grant County to address a local group of ranchers. They were going there to explain local ranchers how they could defend themselves against the federal government’s unconstitutional assault on their property rights. They were warned by local authorities in Harney County not to spread their message of freedom and following the Constitution to citizens in nearby communities, but the protestors refused to be silenced. Oregon Governor Kate Brown and President Barack Obama decided that their dangerous gospel of limited government could not be allowed to spread outside the confines of the Harney County to adjacent counties. The message of individual freedom and limited government had to be contained no matter what the cost.
On the way to their meeting the members of the Committee for Constitutional Freedom were followed by a armed Federal agents and members of the Oregon State Police in their patrol cars. With their lights flashing they ordered the two vehicles to pull over. As they pulled to a stop they were ordered over loudspeakers to get out of their vehicles with their hands up in the air. All the protestors in the vehicle driven by Mark McConnell which included Ammon Bundy surrendered to police without incident, but the people in the other vehicle driven by Lavoy Finicum reported that they were fired upon while their vehicle remained there.
According to Shawna Cox who was in the backseat of the vehicle at the time that it was fired on, one round narrowly missed Ryan Payne who was in the front seat. After being fired on Mr. Payne exited the vehicle with his hands up in the air screaming that there were women in the car. Both women decided not to leave the vehicle. After a few minutes police officers fired a second round at the drivers side of the truck nearly missing LaVoy Finicum according to the testimony of the other woman in the backseat named Victoria Sharp. At that point Mr. Finicum believed that they were all going to be killed if he stayed there so he made a decision to leave. He did not get very far as FBI agents had set up a road block about a mile and a half down the road. The truck driven by Mr. Finicum was shot at as it approached the roadblock and it crashed into a snow bank along the side of the road. Lavoy Finicum immediately stepped out of the vehicle with his hands up in the air, and he was targeted for death by Oregon State Police officers.
Fifty five year old Lavoy Finicum was shot dead Thursday January 26th one day before his 56th birthday. He didn’t have a gun in his hand when he was killed and he didn’t pose a threat to anyone. He did nothing to justify the use of deadly force. According to eyewitness testimony Mr. Finicum left the vehicle to draw police gunfire away from the other passengers in the truck. The police investigation into the use of deadly force confirms the eyewitness testimony of Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp that he was shot three times. The fatal blows appear to have come from two Oregon State Police Officer who were positioned behind Mr. Finicum. He was shot three times in the back, twice in the back of the right shoulder and once in the lower left back near his waist
As LaVoy tried to get as far away from the truck as he could in order to draw police gunfire away from the other passengers in the vehicle he was stumbling around in the snow on a steep embankment with his hands up in the air trying to maintain his balance. I believe he had already been shot when he lurched forward and momentarily dropped his hands. His entire upper body seemed to jerk forward and down as his hands dropped just as if he had just been hit with a bullet. Then he turned his head and tried to move in the other direction. He was still leaning back as he tried to reposition his right foot on the ground when another officer came at him from out of the woods. This Oregon State Police officer charged at him with his arm fully extended. This officer is said to have been holding a tazer. Just at the moment he looked like he fired his weapon Mr Finnicum fell over backwards on the ground with his hands still in the air. The FBI claims that he had a gun in his pocket and he was reaching for it. That is an assumption, but it is also the precise proof that he never had his hand on a gun. If he had a gun it was still in his pocket when he was shot because it sure wasn’t in his hands… and it was perfectly legal to be in his pocket. Oregon is a concealed carry State so if he had a gun then it had to be concealed in his pocket or in some other place. The important thing to remember is that he never had the gun in his hand so the contention that the officers behind him fired in self defense is absolutely absurd.
There were at least three other law enforcement officers who had their weapons trained on LaVoy Finicum from different directions as lay on the ground bleeding to death. Victoria Sharp was in the backseat of Mr. Finnicum’s truck as it was now being fired upon by police. She is an emergency medical technician. In an interview with Reuters she states that she screamed at the police that she was an emergency medical technician and asked if she could get out of the vehicle and provide medical assistance to Mr. Finicum. She stated that she heard multiple gunshots in rapid succession and then she saw Mr. Finicum fall and no one was providing medical assistance to him. From the video and the eyewitness testimony it doesn’t sound like anyone had any intentions of taking Mr. Finicum alive. The facts on the ground contradict the statement of FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing who said they did everything possible to take all people alive. There were numerous other shots fired at the car after LaVoy was wounded when they should have been providing him with medical assistance.
Lavoy Finnicum was a native of Kanab, Utah. At the time of his death he was a resident of Colorado City, Arizona. He was a friend of Cliven Bundy. Mr. Finicum was a rancher and the father of eleven children whom he dearly loved. Fox News depicted his death as a “suicide by cop.” That media spin put out there by the FBI to shift the responsibility away from the people who wrongfully shot him. On the contrary Mr. Finicum had everything to live for… a lovely wife, a beautiful family and twenty nine grandchildren. He was shot to death in cold blood while he was trying to minimize the danger to the rest of the passengers in the vehicle. FBI agents and Oregon State Police were there to put an end to the protest at the Wildlife Refuge at the request of Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown, and Oregon’s Democrat Senator Ron Wyden and Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
If we had a decent Governor and a decent President they would have told the Oregon State Police and the FBI agents on the ground to hold their fire until the one of the protestors fired the first shot, but they didn’t do that. All of the police officers were wearing bullet proof vests so Mr. Finicum posed no real threat to any law enforcement officer. The police and the FBI fired the first shot. They fired the last shot, and they fired all of the shots. None of the protestors fired a single shot. Mr Finicum didn’t even have a gun in his hand. He was stumbling around in the snow on the side of an embankment at the edge of the road trying to turn away from one police officer who had probably just shot him. He was trying to face another police officer who was charging at him from out of the woods with a weapon pointed at him in his hand.
This was more than a mere traffic stop. It was an ambush. FBI special agent in charge Greg Bretzling said they tried to resolve this matter peacefully and capture Mr. Finicum alive. That is a lie. No one tried to preserve Mr Finicum’s life after he was shot three times in the back. They just left him there to die as they continued their assault on the other passengers in the vehicle as their testimony and the cell phone video indicates.. They didn’t want to capture Mr. Finicum alive. They wanted to kill him. They wanted to send a message to the rest of the demonstrators at the Refuge and they wanted to send a message the other ranchers in Oregon, and in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and all of the western states where the Federal Government and the Bureau of Land Management administers half of all the land west of the Rocky Mountains. They wanted to send a message to all Americans who still believe in the Constitution and are willing challenge the government’s authority to control 700 million acres of public land. Some people have suggested that Mr. Finicum should have remained at the traffic stop he would still be alive today. What they fail to remember is that the police began shooting at the vehicle while it was there at the traffic stop and Mr. Finicum was still inside of the vehicle. The only reason he drove away was because the police began shooting.
After Mr. Finicum was killed the rest of the passengers surrendered and the dead and injured were taken to the community hospital in Burns where the FBI had commandeered a section of the hospital to be used as a trauma center before the attack began.
Pete Santilli was broadcasting live from the hospital as events were unfolding. He was also arrested in order to silence his livestream broadcast. All of the protestors except for Victoria Sharp were transported three hundred miles away to Portland, Oregon where they were all booked at the Multnomah County Jail. There were still other protestors who remained at the Refuge as I am writing this story.
Human Rights Watch regularly criticizes governments around the world for clamping down on civil rights groups when they try to hold their own leaders accountable. That is exactly what these protestors were doing at the Wildlife Refuge. I have yet to hear a single kind word uttered about any of these courageous individuals either from the mainstream media or from human rights watch. They were just trying to hold our government accountable.
The biased news coverage from the mainstream media is covering up most of the story while not uncovering all of the facts… So here are a few facts:
The United States government controls almost one-half of all the land in the western United States. This land was stripped from each state as it was admitted to the Union. The Federal Government has no Constitutional authority to own any of this land.. All the land should be returned to the States and to the people under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
The only land that the United States Federal Government is authorized to own is ten square miles of land called the District of Columbia which became the seat of the federal government.
The real occupiers of the land in Harney County Oregon are not the protestors at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. They have been doing the entire country a favor by risking their own lives to draw attention to the real problem in the West which is the ownership of 700 million acres of land by the federal government. The real occupiers in Harney County, in Oregon and in eleven other western states is the Federal Government.
Two local Harney County ranchers named Dwight and Steven Hammond were imprisoned on federal arson charges and fined $400,000 dollars for a small grass fire they started on their property to control juniper brush. After serving their time they were re-arrested and re-sentenced for the same crime and ordered to serve five more years apiece under an ant-terrorism act which clearly violates the Fifth Amendment.
Select Related Articles