Greatest hits, No. 19: Lack of outrage noted as Western rancher shot down by Feds

Special to, Feb. 4, 2016

I.M. Justice, Asheville Tribune

Whatever the purpose of the protest, which I can guarantee you does not come out of empty paranoia but from very real and experienced knowledge of how vulnerable we are to federal power, I am shocked at how little courtesy a western rancher is shown.

The Occupy Wall Street folks had the full support of police protection to protest to their fullest First Amendment desires. In contrast the buildings at the refuge were empty and in the middle of nowhere. As a result, few really cared.

Lavoy Finicum.
Lavoy Finicum.

The 10 people in the two vehicles were lawfully driving on a rural public highway and had up to this point been given full freedom to do so. They weren’t in a standoff, they were headed to a meeting in the next county which was public knowledge. The meeting there was about a story covered in connection with the Grant County Sheriff’s announcement that he thought the FBI should go home and that he supported some of the protesters’ demands, as opposed to the Sheriff of Haney County who wanted the protesters long gone.

The statements that Lavoy Finicum made about being prepared to die were clearly broadcast without the full context of his interview and anyway were well within his First Amendment Rights. And, by the way, since when do our rights depend on being sophisticated in communication skills.

The FBI video, and you could watch the full unedited 26 minutes which is without the context of sound and isn’t clear enough to see when and where the first bullets started or when or if they were asked to surrender. (A detailed analysis of the video may be found here. )

What we do know is that an eyewitness says they were peaceful, says they were shot at while sitting at the first stop and that she saw Mr. Finicum with his hands up in the air when he was shot point blank. Seems reasonable to me that he could be given the benefit of doubt by his fellow Americans.

Related: The Hammond family: Ranchers or domestic terrorists?, Feb. 11

But frankly I am overwhelmed by the blind acceptance of the Feds’ narrative. Maybe if you look closely you can see your neighbor getting shot standing knee deep in snow, and left to bleed out. This was a simple ambush.

I’ve been hearing a lot of rumbling among friends that the Bundy protest at the Mahler Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns, Oregon deserves a sad end. More importantly they seem to feel that the shooting of Arizona Rancher, Lavoy Finicum, seems justified and deserved. I am shocked to hear this rhetoric in light of all the stink around Harney County and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Dept. of Justice prosecution of Steve and Dwight Hammond as Domestic Terrorists.

Surely, in light of the overwhelming evidence of federal power surging out of control against its citizens (remember the IRS scandals?) we could be a little more perceptive. The goal is for us to remain a free America, where the citizens have the power, not the government. Perhaps we need to review the facts.

Remember, the Hammond’s own very valuable property rights, protected and defined by Oregon State Law. The BLM patrol these ‘property rights’ in vehicles with law enforcement lights, wear uniforms, have identity badges, and they carry semi-automatic handguns. They can build a file full of accusations and allegations without fear of prosecution for false statements or charges of liable because their status as federal employees grant them prosecutorial immunity. Nothing will or can happen to them.

The BLM have an overwhelming presence in Harney County. The Sheriff, Brian Wolfe, in Harney County is former BLM. County Commissioner and acting Mayor Judge Grasty has a wife and a brother who work for the BLM. And the population of Burns has surged to 70 percent of the populous being employed in some government capacity. Maybe Bundy thought he needed militia to defend his right to protest?

Additionally, the FBI was in Harney County impersonating radical militia, and these militia were accused of harassing locals in which the Fire Marshal Chris Briels, when stumbling onto this fact and told to keep quiet, publicly resigned, and then later recanted his remarks.

Of course, if you live in a county with an unsympathetic sheriff who is pledged to protect your life and property, and he chooses to let the feds run over you, you might shut up too.

Remember the protest is over the Hammonds being prosecuted as domestic terrorists, the defense of which has just about bankrupted them.

Doesn’t some of this start to not quite add up the way the media has characterized it? Those who founded this nation fought for and defended property rights, which the BLM and western officials really could care less about. The same could be said of the uneducated, unconcerned media.