Franklin Graham Testifies for the Defense
By Shari Dovale
Rev. Franklin Graham testified for the defense on Thursday in the Malheur Protest Trial taking place in Portland.
Graham told of how he had flown into Burns in February 2016 to help resolve the tense final days of the protest.
Jeff Banta, one of the final four, had heard about Graham touring the country to pray in each state capital. This moved him to ask the FBI to contact Reverend Graham to help with the negotiations for the remaining protesters.
Graham was contacted on January 28th, and beginning a few days later, spoke with Banta, David Fry, and Sean and Sandy Anderson nearly every day until they walked out on February 11, 2016.
Graham told of how he had normal conversations with each person, asking about the weather and more, gaining their trust as he knew they had no trust of the FBI. He learned how all four were afraid for their lives and revealed that he also felt fear after LaVoy Finicum was killed.
He told of how no threats were made from the four, and there were no discussions about federal employees. The FBI, however, said they needed access for ranchers to get to the irrigation systems. “But, it is five degrees,” Graham remembers saying to the FBI.
He felt the situation was too tense and wanted the FBI to “take a breath”. He prayed with the hold outs on each call. He spoke to the FBI after each call also attempting to gain their trust.
On the night of February 10th, Graham received a phone call from the FBI indicating they were going to apply pressure for a conclusion to the situation. He begged them to wait until he arrived in person. “Don’t go in tonight,” he asked them. They agreed and he flew his plane into Burns the next morning.
The FBI met him and got him transferred to a ‘Bear Cat’ armored vehicle, driving him to a spot behind the protesters at ‘Camp Finicum.’ He spoke on a loudspeaker to the four and shortly after Sean and Sandy Anderson came out of the camp with their hands together holding a US Flag high in the air.
Jeff Banta came out next, but David Fry held out for awhile longer. Sandy Anderson was allowed, at the request of Graham, to speak to Fry. She told him of how they were all being treated with respect and he should come out.
Graham and the first three got on their knees and prayed together before the FBI removed them from the scene. David Fry came out about 30 minutes later. He held out until asking the FBI to join together to say “Hallelujah” and they complied.
Graham then told of how two FBI negotiators had tears in their eyes after the four had left. Everyone was thankful to God that no one had been hurt.
During questioning, Matt Schindler, Kenneth Medenbach’s attorney, asked Reverend Graham if he had any training in crisis negotiations, or hostage negotiations. Graham responded that he did not but just “Relied on God” to get through it.
Reverend Graham brought God into the courtroom in Portland, where He is needed. Let’s all pray that the government, and the court, allow Him to remain.