Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Deceased Militant LaVoy Finicum: Rancher, Patriarch, Bundy Believer

Robert LaVoy Finicum, who died Tuesday in a confrontation with FBI and state police on the highway between Burns and John Day, was a man whose life was transformed by the 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy and federal officials in Nevada. At the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Finicum stood out as one of the few ranchers in a crowd of army vets and anti-government activists. Finicum quickly emerged as a key surrogate for occupation leader Ammon Bundy and a spokesman for the militants. “You don’t stand here, unless you believe in your heart of hearts what you’re doing is true. You’re going to have to weather the storm of intense persecution, and criticism and demonization,” he said in an interview last week. “You don’t draw a line in the sand unless you’re willing to go all the way.” Finicum participated in many of the militants’ activities, helping remove a fence at the edge of the refuge and taking down cameras — allegedly used for surveillance, according to the militants — from a nearby power station. At the refuge, Finicum wore a cream colored cowboy hat, eyeglasses and a gun belt. At times, he smiled and spoke softly. From behind the wheel of his quad cab pickup, he said he didn’t much care for country music and preferred British pop star Adele. In his youth, he said he’d worked as a property manager in the Portland area. Finicum spoke about the possibility of a war between the people of the United States and its government, and wrote an apocalyptic novel, available on Amazon, titled “Only By Blood and Suffering.” He urged reporters to consider setting aside enough food and water to last six months. Before 2014, Finnicum had never met Cliven Bundy face-to-face, though his cattle grazed on thousands of acres in Mojave County, Arizona, not far from the Bundy’s ranch. He came to visit the Bundys the day before the standoff started. “I said Cliven, don’t let them take your cows,” Finicum recalled in an interview with OPB. “He says saddle up your horse and be here early in the morning. I was the first cowboy to show up in the dark.” In fall 2015, Finicum followed in Bundy’s footsteps and chose to stop complying with his lease contract with the Bureau of Land Management, in spite of a long positive relationship with the agency. “The people I deal with in Arizona, they’re great, they’re wonderful,” he told OPB. “It’s not whether they do good, or bad, it’s should they have the power?”...more

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