Updates at the end
The 24-day standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has resulted in eleven arrests and one death.
The statement by officials comes first in this account but the rest of the story is concerning if accurate. The Sentinel does not support this type of occupation but the way it has been handled might have been an egregious error on the part of the government. Strange this didn’t happen in Ferguson or Baltimore.
Officials gave an update Wednesday morning. They said the armed occupiers were given ample opportunity to negotiate and to return to their families and to work through the normal legal channels but instead, through criminal actions, brought these consequences upon themselves. Yesterday the FBI wanted to end the occupation peacefully, out of harm’s way, removing the threat of danger. Watch the video at CBSN.
The officials said it was the actions of the armed occupiers that led us to where we are today. “Actions are not without consequences,” the spokesperson said. They are calling it an “armed occupation” and said that is was a “significant disruption” to the people of the country. Public documents once filed will speak for them.
The standoff lasted 24 days, it wasn’t months or a year, it wasn’t even a month.
KrisAnn Hall is a constitutional lawyer who has traveled to Burns, Oregon, knows the peaceful protesters at the Malheur Refuge and has spent time with the group negotiating the peaceful surrender.
She has first hand knowledge that unnecessary force may have been used. The facts are being gathered. There are people who will seek justice if there was any wrongdoing. They are a small but vocal group.
Victoria Sharps’ eyewitness testimony can be heard on the video below. She was in the truck with LaVoy Finicum who was killed by the FBI last night. She did change her story on the tape.
When LaVoy tried to talk to the FBI from the truck, they shot at him as he put his head out the window, according to Ms. Sharps.
Finicum realized they were serious about killing them and eventually took off in the truck. There was a road block and law enforcement were firing as he fled until he ran into a snowbank.
The protesters showed no aggression at all, Sharps said. They never fired.
According to Ms. Sharps, Finicum was walking with his hands in the air as he said, “Are you going to shoot me? Just shoot me. Just shoot me then,” Ms. Sharps said, “so they did. They shot him dead. He was just walking with his hands in the air. Then when he was down on the ground, they shot him three more times…they bombarded the truck with bullets.”
She thought there were about 40 cars and there were people in the trees.
Sharps said they shot at least 120 rounds. They were laying in wait with a 60-mile road block as Ammon Bundy and his men traveled to what they thought was a meeting with the FBI.
He was murdered in cold blood if this account is true.
It is being referred to in the media as a “shootout” but “there was no media there and you have to wonder where this information is coming from,” KrisAnn Hall said.
Ammon Bundy and his men were on the road to go to a “peaceful negotiation” that the FBI invited them to. Instead, the FBI conducted a “traffic stop,” [LaVoy said publicly that they were going to a community meeting.]
“In order to have a shootout, you have to have two parties shooting,” Ms. Hall said, but Bundy and his men never fired a shot.
“Who is the aggressor here,” Hall asks. If a man is shot while surrendering with his hands behind his head, who is the aggressor, she asks.
The refuge where the people were protesting is called “public lands”, and it was a “public building” on “public land.” The sign says “Welcome to Your Land.”
These men did not have heavy armaments. There were no tanks, no turrets, and they only had their firearms. The media is lying, Hall said.
As she said, it should not be radical to carry a gun. It should not be radical to exercise one’s rights. Hall asks “What happens when you turn rights into radical,” she asks. “What happens when the government occupies land they have no right to occupy?”
She wants people to understand that what is now legal is not lawful.
The federal government is occupying land by force when it’s unconstitutional to do so. “Lawful is illegal and unlawful is legal” in our country today.
More than half of the land in the West is owned by the federal government and that is unconstitutional.
Hall said she knows for a “fact” that the media was there and their stories were not aired or published. Fox News had reporters there, she said, and reporters sent them stories but Fox News would not post the stories. The media is “controlled”. Hall said and the reporters were frustrated that they couldn’t get the story out.
The media won’t post the story unless it’s to call them militants engaged in a shootout during a resistance. KrisAnn said all of that is a lie. These people were “trying to be peaceful”.
Why didn’t law enforcement shoot the truly violent people in Ferguson, Baltimore, Occupy? Ms. Hall didn’t say that, I’m saying it. The difference appears to be the guns carried by the cowboys were more visible.
Ms. Hall referred to Thomas Paine’s essay, “The American Crisis”, in which Paine wrote, [crises] “are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.”
Hall said that the media won’t defend those defending their First Amendment and won’t “give fair access to truth, why? Because they so love their wealth, and they so love their influence and their power, that they would rather lick the boots and the hands that feed them then to actually, actually bring truth.”
She said all Media has become “wicked.”
If you do nothing else, go to 19:29 on the mark on the first video and decide if you think LaVoy was a man seeking violence. Decide for yourself. To me, he sounds like a man of the land, a cowboy, descended from Native-Americans who believes the land is free. It’s heartbreaking listening to him. he sounded like a sincere man.
Hall said the BLM, the federal government are not taking care of the land. They stole land to protect the turtles but they were killing them “in massive amounts.” “They’re liars. They’re deceivers.”
It doesn’t matter the reasons. They want our land to control it for their selfish purposes and they don’t have the authority under our Constitution, Hall continued.
Most of the protesters have now left the refuge peacefully though there are a few left.
The government, Hall said, does not want you to know this was a peaceful protest. The government controlled the media and the narrative she believes.
Go to 36:33 and hear LaVoy Finicum one last time.
Eyewitness testimony from Victoria Sharps. She does seem unsure of some facts of her story.
Update January 27
A man who claims to be the driver of one of the trucks wrote on his Facebook page that he saw LaVoy take off and that was an act of aggression and a bad move. He also conjectured that LaVoy charged the officers which has since turned out to be inaccurate.
Update: January 28
CNN reported that the chase and a reach for the waistband prompted the shooting.
FBI and Oregon State Police at a command center in Burns were monitoring the group when they departed the refuge to attend a town hall meeting with local residents in the town of John Day though KrisAnn Hall said they were headed for a meeting with the FBI.
When he emerged from the vehicle, FBI and state police ordered him to surrender. That’s when, authorities say, Finicum reached down toward his waistband where he had a gun.
The SWAT team opened fire. Finicum was killed. Ryan Bundy suffered a light wound on his arm.
The shooting was captured on camera by the SWAT team. FBI and Oregon police officials are discussing possibly releasing the video, in part to counter claims by supporters that Finicum was gunned down while trying to surrender.
They need to release the video.