One Quiet Man’s Fight for Freedom
“Destroyers are they who lay snares for many, and call it the state … ” — Nietzsche
Americans should pause and take some time to recall and celebrate the life of Robert LaVoy Finicum, an American patriot, who loved his family, God and country. He placed his life on the line in defense of all Americans’ right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’, joining the ranks of thousands of other ranchers who have been fighting the overreaches of the federal government and the tyranny of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the past forty years. Robert LaVoy Finicum died on January 26th, 2016, one day before his 55th birthday, defending the U.S. Constitution and this America he loved so well.
By all accounts, LaVoy Finicum was “a quiet man who worked his to-do list from sun-up to sundown” (The Oregonian) and had a “light reading” list that included many history books, the U.S. Constitution and Alexis de Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America’. He also thoroughly enjoyed his big family -his wife and eleven children- and their evening discussions on the Scriptures, the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ ideas on freedom.
Although Finicum had generally viewed his interaction with the BLM to be “very good” over the years, he became active in opposing them in 2014, after the BLM fined him $12,000 and claimed his cattle had grazed on federal lands past his allotted permit time. He was also heavily influenced by his own research into the BLM and the high-handed tactics he witnessed the BLM employ against the Bundy family in 2014.
Finicum rode with Cliven and Ammon Bundy on their Nevada Ranch in April of 2014, along with hundreds of other supporters, in order to reinforce the fact that Bundy’s grazing and water rights, documented in an 1878 title, predated any BLM claims and had to be honored by the BLM. And when the BLM moved along Interstate 15 to confiscate Bundy’s cattle on April 5th, Finicum, the Bundy family members and well-armed supporters stopped them cold where they stood; this would become a sore-point for the FBI that carried over to the Malheur Wildlife Reserve occupation in 2016 and the stand-off near Burns, Oregon.
After the Bundy Ranch Stand-Off, LaVoy Finicum said: “I had to do a lot of soul searching. I realized that Cliven Bundy was standing on a very strong constitutional principle, and yet, here I was continuing to pay a grazing fee to the BLM.”
Finicum and the Bundy clan understood that the Enclave Clause [Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution] did not allow government bureaucrats to act like kings and ignore the 9th and 10th Amendments, and it did not authorize the BLM to arbitrarily seize the water rights, cattle and property of ranchers and arrogantly nullify 200 years of constitutional history. They understood, much like the U.S. Supreme Court (New York v. U.S.), that the Constitution is not a tool to protect the sovereignty of the State or for the benefit of government officials, but rather, the Constitution secures all Americans’ liberties through the diffusion of sovereign power.
However, the BLM sees things differently. Many cases spanning the years can be found, that are similar to Raymond Yowell’s experience. The BLM garnished the $200 Social Security check of this former chief of the Shoshone Indian Tribe and seized 132 head of his cattle in 2002, for grazing “unlawfully” on government lands. The BLM sold Yowell’s cattle at auction and pocketed the money.
Between 2006 and 2012, the BLM had intimidated and finally charged Steven and Dwight Hammond with nine federal counts of arson for setting backfires on their own lands that supposedly spread to federal land. The Hammonds were subsequently imprisoned, released and then sent back to prison, even though the facts illuminated that some of those out-of-control backfires actually originated with BLM employees, in an attempt to stop several lightning strike fires such as the Granddad fire that burned 46,000 acres.
Politics played heavily in the cases regarding Steven and Dwight Hammond, because the BLM wanted the Hammond ranch. Gold mining companies like Calico Resource USA out of Vancouver, Canada and uranium mining concerns like Australian owned Oregon Energy LLC had their eyes on the area, and the BLM was hoping to profit and grow more powerful through the General Mining Law of 1872.
All the great ideas and principles that shaped America went with LaVoy Finicum, as he and many other American Patriots occupied Oregon’s Malheur [French for “misfortune” or “tragedy”] National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles from Burns, Oregon, in order to force the return of 188,000 acres to local control and the release of the Hammond brothers from prison. They acted through peaceful, political protest, even though they were armed to ensure the security of their protest, and they advocated for property and states’ rights, as they took a hard stand against federal ownership of 250 million acres in America and years of oppression by the BLM and several other government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
Twenty-five days into the protest, Robert LaVoy Finicum, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Virginia Sharp headed to John Day, Oregon for a “singing” and a meeting with Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer to discuss their demands, explain their views to local people and seek a peaceful end to the stand-off. But they were ambushed along the way by the Oregon State Patrol and the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, which used combat-grade operation protocols rather than “civilian” deadly force standards, firing once without warning at the initial stop, according to many witnesses, and numerous times at the second roadblock using concussion and live rounds.
Does this remind anyone else of Ruby Ridge and the murders of Randy Weaver’s wife and son by the FBI?
If the federal authorities had been serious about desiring a peaceful resolution to this conflict, they could have coordinated with Sheriff Palmer to arrest Finicum, if just cause existed for an arrest [they knew Finicum’s destination]. Instead they chose to shoot him numerous times and refuse him medical attention from Virginia Sharp, a trained EMT and his friend, as he lay on the snowy ground dying. They murdered LaVoy on a lonely, desolate stretch of Highway 395.
If the FBI had negotiated LaVoy Finicum’s peaceful surrender, as they certainly could have, he would simply have been taken into custody and released after his acquittal by a jury, just in the same manner that a jury acquitted his so-called “co-conspirators” in October 2016, including Ammon Bundy and a friend and activist, Shawna Cox. And, it should alarm everyone that the HRT agents initially concealed the fact they had fired their weapons during the stop.
Upon her release, Shawna Cox made a plea before a mass of TV cameras and supporters, imploring: “We have to be vigilant people. Wake up America, and help us restore the Constitution. Don’t sleep with your head in the sand.
Isn’t it odd that FBI agents , who are sworn to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution — lawyers all — regularly side with government imposed tyranny against U.S. citizens?
Arianna Finicum Brown, LaVoy’s 27 year old daughter, stated shortly after his death: “My Dad was such a good man, through and through. He would never want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved.
During LaVoy’s funeral, his brother, Guy Finicum remarked on LaVoy’s deep faith in God, adding: “He has absolute confidence that he will be with his family again. He believes that as much as he believes the sun will rise. And that’s what gave him the ability to do what he did. He always looked at a higher goal.”
When any government, including ours, puts forth its strength on the side of injustice and murders fine men like LaVoy Finicum, it reveals itself as a mere brute force, and it becomes apparent more than ever that tyranny rules. And other patriots are served warning to desist their opposition or meet the same fate.
And what are Americans to think of a government to which all the truly brave and just men in the land are enemies, standing between it and those whom it oppresses?
Robert LaVoy Finicum did not recognize unjust human laws, and he persistently stood for the dignity of human nature, knowing himself for a man, the equal of any government. He regularly fought against established injustices and the hypocrites of bureaucracies who seemed to ask, “Why do you assault us”. And LaVoy’s death — the death of an American hero — was like the planting of a good seed, and it is giving rise to a new crop of American heroes.