Friday, October 07, 2016

Why Was a 26-Year-Old Computer Whiz from Ohio the Last Man Standing at Malheur?

When the time came for David Fry to come out with his hands up, he huddled inside a tent of blue and white tarps and flicked a lighter at an unlit cigarette. He held a cellphone at his ear. On the other end, thousands of people listened. “OK, David,” said a voice on a bullhorn outside the tent. Fry paused and inhaled, then screamed out into the clear morning cold, “Unless my grievances are heard, I will not come out!” Outside, federal agents had surrounded him 15 hours before. It was February 11, just before 10:40 a.m. There were armored vehicles, agents in flak jackets, negotiators. A state representative arrived, pleading with Fry to come out. An evangelical preacher, too. A nearby roadblock stopped reporters and television cameras from getting any closer to the shoddy camp, situated on the muddy western edge of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in southeastern Oregon, where Fry now sat alone. For 41 days, the middle-of-nowhere 187,000-acre bird refuge had been controlled by a group of armed men and women who believe that, according to the Constitution, public land belongs not to the federal government but to the people who live there. And they wouldn’t leave until it was given back. “I have to stand my ground. It’s liberty or death,” Fry said into his phone. More than 2,000 miles away, in an Ohio suburb, Fry’s father, Bill, tuned in to hear his son square off with federal agents. He turned up the volume on his speakers in the cluttered computer room of the family home. When the livestream began the night before, it was too much for his wife, Sachiyo. As federal agents closed in, the last remaining occupiers screamed at them to leave, cried to the livestream that they would die here, and taunted FBI agents, yelling, “Kill us and get it over with!” Sachiyo ran upstairs to bed, unable to bear the thought that she might, at any second, hear her son be killed. He was an unlikely holdout: a 27-year-old, rail-thin, long-haired, half-Japanese computer whiz who left his cozy upstairs bedroom in his parents’ house in Blanchester, Ohio, and drove a beat-up 1988 silver Lincoln Town Car across seven states in the dead of winter to join the ranks of cowboys, militiamen, ranchers, anti-Muslim activists, sovereign citizens, and veterans staging what some hoped would become a violent standoff with federal officers. Against the pleas of people on the phone, against the goading of an FBI negotiator, just after 11:30 a.m., Fry lay down on his sleeping bag and put a gun to his head. “I’m a free man,” he said. “I will die a free man.” Across the country, Bill Fry listened carefully...more

1 comment:

Dave Pickel said...

Because he had nothing better to do.