A Man Named LaVoy: From Farmer to Folk Hero

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Government over-reach is not exacly a new concept. Furthermore, violent clashes between armed Americans and Federal agents seem to happen at least once per decade. I say “clashes” with a grain of salt. Because more often than not, these very conflicts end with taxpaying Americans lying dead on their own land, while rogue Federal agents go on to higher office.

In the 1990s I was a young man. I was not politically minded at all, but I do remember Ruby Ridge. I do remember Waco. And I also remember the anger and horror that I felt, as the nation watched agents from The BATFE burn women and children alive during the Waco standoff. As in the previous year at Ruby Ridge, when Agent Lon Horiuchi gunned down Vicki Weaver, while she stood in a doorway holding her infant daughter. A body count that would also include Weaver’s 14-year-old son Sammy, and U.S. Marshal Michael Degan.

FBI agents Ruby ridge

No, this type of violence is nothing new to us. It would seem that it’s become almost a cultural norm. Consider the case of Mr. Robert LaVoy Finicum. A rancher and spokesman for Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.

In August, 2015, Mr. Finicum ceased to comply with the terms of his grazing permit with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In 2016, he would go on to serve as spokesman for what the media has dubbed “militants,” who then occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

On January 26, Mr. Finicum was shot during a confrontation with State Police, and Agents from the FBI. Mr. Finicum met his end on a lonely stretch of U.S. Route 395 in Harney County, on his way to meet Grant County Sheriff, Glenn Palmer. Palmer was considered a security leak, as he was sympathetic to Mr. Finicum’s cause. Strangely enough, body camera footage from State Police does not exist. Supposedly, they were ordered by the FBI not to wear body cameras that day.

There is, however, aerial footage of Mr. Finicum’s death. Very grainy footage. There is speculation that LaVoy reached for his 9mm sidearm. Now let’s pause for a second. I don’t condone violence against law enforcement, but Mr. Finicum was a cowboy. A man of the gun. When confronted with violence, those type of men (men like myself) react. It’s muscle memory. If he did indeed reach for a weapon, I chalk it up to instinct. So why the lack of body camera footage? Why are agents seen huddling in the snow, supposedly gathering their shell casings?

Furthermore, what is it about words like “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom” that terrifies the Federal Government so badly? If the Government is so afraid of men like Finicum, I would have to say that perhaps, he was right? Consider FBI Agent Joseph Astarita, who was eventually indicted for lying about the circumstances of Finicum’s death, and obstruction of justice. From my perspective, Americans are completely justified with their distrust of Federal Agents, and even the government as a whole.

FBI agent Joseph Astarita indicted
Courtroom art of W. Joseph Astarita appearing before a judge in a Portland federal court on June 28, 2017. (Photo: KOIN)

In recent years, it seems everytime Federal Agents get involved in what most people would call “civil disobedience,” the Feds quickly escalate the situation into a bloodbath, and do everything in their power to mislead the American people, discredit the opposition, and cover their tracks. I’m going to have to call it what it is. Political assassination.

I don’t believe they ever had intentions of arresting Mr. Finicum (just my opinion). No, I feel that they found themselves in the midst of a situation they could no longer control. It was a volatile time. That same year, confrontations between ranchers and the BLM had nearly escalated into a genuine shooting war. LaVoy had become the flag bearer of this cause. A cause that was soon to spread like a brushfire swept by the Santa Ana winds.

This was damage control of the highest order, and a message to those who would dare overstep the boundaries imposed by the Federal government. The famed pirate, Captain Edward Teach, also known as “Blackbeard” once said, “I have to shoot one of my men now and then. It reminds them who is in charge.” Mr Finicum’s death was just that. The proverbial musket ball to the chest of the modern Libertarian movement. We were growing unruly. I mean, how dare we choose to live peacefully on our own land, on our own terms.

Finicum was no radical. Finicum was a rancher. To look at him, I see a man cut from a very old cloth. I see my Grandfather, or my late Uncles. I see myself. A man of conviction and a strong moral fabric. A man who saw injustice and couldn’t sit idle. A rare man in these times. A dying breed, if you will. A man of, in fact, very strong convictions. They would go on to cost him not only his estate, but, ultimately, his life.

You may not agree with Mr. Finicum. You may not agree with me. That’s fine. But consider this: why is it so easy for our government to pull the trigger on its own citizens? And why does it happen so often with not a peep from the media, our neighbors, or the hollow suits on Capitol Hill? In a time when everyone seems to be fighting some type of injustice, whether factual or imaginary. These same “social justice warriors” in Che Guevarra t-shirts, aren’t even aware of the atrocities happening in rural America. And make no mistake, Mr. Finicum’s death is an atrocity.

I’m not anti-government. I’m not anti-authority. But this nation was founded on specific checks and balances to prevent these very abuses of power. Now, I know many on the far left, and the far right who would love to see an event like this trigger a full blown civil war. I’m however, not one of them. Even if the left and right did eventually come together in some Red Dawn style purge of rogue Feds. What would the endgame be? More dead Americans on both sides. And then what? Do we then go on to tell our grandchildren tales of a time when, we were so divided, we gunned each other down for sport? The very thought of that paints such a bleak picture, that I quite literally frown at the thought. Certainly not what Mr. Finicum and his comrades were fighting for. And it’s most certainly not a legacy that I could even pretend to be proud of. God forbid, if it does indeed come to that.

Let’s for a moment envision this bleak future. Consider the amount of firearms in private hands in the United States. Consider the number of disenfranchised Veterans (some sleeping in the cold as you read this). Consider the rogue elements in goverment, Neo-Marxist groups, and Neo-Fascist groups. Once the real fighting started, America might never recover. The lasting spiritual wounds on our Republic would never heal. At least, not in our lifetimes.

At a time when distrust of Federal agencies is at an all time high. The FISA memo, blatant, unchecked corruption. Saboteur politicians, trigger-happy Feds, and American citizens lying dead with Federal bullets in them. I have to wonder what will bring about real change. Or worse, what event will ignite the powder keg. From my perspective, events like this are sparks. Sparks start fires. Fires quickly grow out of control. Again, I don’t condone violence. In all honesty, I hate it with a burning passion. But we can’t continue down this path.

I envision the angry mob with pitch forks and torches. In the aftermath of yet another event like this. The final breaking point. But it won’t be pitch forks. It will be Kalashnikovs and deer rifles, and a festering, long overdue rage. I pray that doesn’t happen. And I think in order to prevent that, we need to turn our eyes and voices to Washington. Not only to demand accountability and reform. Perhaps it’s time we demand an end to agencies that are not only obsolete, but no longer serve any purpose at all. Agencies who have openly declared themselves the enemies of the People.

I’ve seen nothing but patience from my Conservative & Libertarian friends. Patience has an end. That end is quickly drawing nigh. In order to restore faith in the Republic, we will most certainly need to see accountability. Maybe a special investigative committee. One that could dig through the countless files of these abhorrent abuses of power. And then, let the prosecutions begin. Let the actors fall like dominos. Parade them in orange jump suits in front of the very people they took an oath to serve. Radical? Maybe. But at this point, the alternative is far less attractive.

1 COMMENT

  1. Seems there are dozens of “special investigative committees” investigating just about everyone in government for one thing or another. How much good does it do? Has anyone, ever, been arrested – or even censured- as a result of the multitude of “special investigations”? Anyone? Seems to me they’re a waste of time, a waste of money, and just a means to drag something out of the spotlight until something new comes along to catch our attention.

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