Robert “Lavoy” Finicum, an anti-gun control activist who had been occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge, was killed by state police this past Tuesday. Since Finicum’s death, there have been calls to hold daily “rolling rallies” in his honor on the spot where he was killed, as his fellow protesters view Finicum’s death as an act of state terrorism and oppression. The Atlantic discovered video footage that reveals Lavoy Finicum trying to get past a roadblock and then reaching for his gun before police opened fire.
The protesters have been occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve since January 2, when Bearingarms.net reports that “… the federal government tried to forcefully resolve a… dispute over grazing rights” on the land. This resulted in a firefight between authorities and the occupiers, and ended with Finicum’s death.
There has been widespread debate over whether Finicum’s death could be considered murder, or if it was rightfully invoked. Under current federal laws, police can only legally open fire on a citizen who threatens the life of the officer and leaves them with no other choice. Additionally, the police officer cannot use excessive force against a citizen when in pursuit.
Though Finicum was threatening the safety of officers, some of those who witnessed his death claim the incident was unjustified murder, as the Inquisitr reported. Either way, the incident has only served to strengthen the resolve of the anti-government protesters, and they remain occupying the wildlife preserve even after Lavoy Finicum’s death. Residents of nearby Burns, Oregon, are understandably fed up with the wildlife preserve’s occupation, as the Washington Post discovered.
“We live here, this is our community, and we don’t want them here. We asked them to go home.”
Finnicum and the other protesters initially gathered to demonstrate against what they claimed was government overstepping in several areas, including the seizure of land. The issue of gun control has become one of the hottest-debated topics in American politics to date, with opponents claiming the government has no right to restrict or confiscate firearms. Presumably, this was also a pro-gun use demonstration, being that the protesters were armed.
L.A. Times reporter Matt Pearce noted that there will be a rally in the wake of Finicum’s death. The Boise, Idaho, rally will be drawing comparisons between the shooting of Michael Brown and Finicum’s recent death, and protesters will have signs, stating “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” when they march on February 6 at 12 noon to the state’s capitol building.
Though several parallels could be drawn between the deaths of Michael Brown and Lavoy Finnicum, there are key differences, as well. For instance, Lavoy did not appear to be surrendering to his attackers during the time he was shot, while Michael Brown was said to have given in before being killed. Finnicum could also have been reaching for a weapon, whereas Michael Brown may have surrendered, depending on which accounts are accurate.
Freedompost.com gathered information from a witness to Finnicum’s death, who called the attack an “ambush” and noted that all shots involved were fired by federal agents. If this account is deemed credible, it may fuel further tensions between the protesters and the federal government. One thing is clear: the protesters don’t seem to be letting up any time soon, and it is likely the government will want to keep them under control, so the conflict may have no resolution for the time being.
[Photo by Nicholas K. Geranios/AP Photo]