LaVoy Finicum Controversy: Fallen Right-Wing Extremist’s Memorial A Problem For U.S. Forest Service

The memorial for LaVoy Finicum has been erected at the site of his death, where he was shot after attempting to drive through a vehicular blockade and then allegedly attempting to reach for a weapon after exiting his vehicle.

LaVoy Finicum, born Rober Linicum, was an Arizona rancher involved in the infamous (and badly bungled) Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon at the beginning of 2016.

Since the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, a memorial to the fallen right-wing extremest and self-proclaimed “patriot” has sprung up at the site of his death. The shooting incident, where LaVoy Finicum lost his life after allegedly attempting to draw a weapon on Oregon State troopers, took place in a rural area of U.S. Route 395.

Since the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, a makeshift memorial has sprung up at the site where he became a victim to his alleged attempt the engage law enforcement. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the site of the LaVoy Finicum memorial is on Malheur National Forest land, and ultimately, it is illegal.

“While the placement of a monument or memorial on public land may help some individuals through difficult times, these memorials are generally of significance to only those most closely tied to a specific person or event,” said Mike Stearly, public affairs officer with the Malheur National Forest. “Others may feel that memorials intrude on their experience of the forest.”

According to a KVAL report, two LaVoy Finicum supporters, both male, have been “guarding” the illegal memorial for almost three weeks. The reason? On multiple occasions since his death, the LaVoy Finicum memorial has been disrupted or removed altogether in the middle of the night. According to the sites new “guards,” William Fisher, of Salmon, Idaho, and Jamey Landin, of Burns, the last three weeks or so mark the longest that the LaVoy Finicum memorial has remained unmolested since it was created.

“They know we’re there. We’re doing something here.”

The pair has already exceeded the 14-day “stay limit” imposed on the campground nearby, where they have been staying to do their LaVoy Finicum “memorial duty.” However, they have already moved to a dispersed campsite across the road, where they can legally reside for 30 additional days.

Ironically, both of the LaVoy Finicum memorial “guards” are unarmed. The reason? They are both convicted felons and not allowed to carry firearms. They’ve also said that they have every intention of remaining peaceful.

Despite the efforts of the LaVoy Finicum memorial guards, though, the U.S. Forest Service states that the memorial for Finicum is illegal and has to be taken down. It hasn’t yet spelled out a timeline for the removal of the LaVoy Finicum memorial.

“The Forest Service does not want to have any conflict or confrontations. Law enforcement is in contact with those folks, and communications are in place.”

Back in May, four male individuals received citations for allegedly trying to erect a permanent cross at the U.S. Forest Service-owned LaVoy Finicum memorial site. According to the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, the four men were official charged with criminal mischief in the third degree. The crime is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine.

Reportedly, the four who were charged with criminal mischief in the case intend to plead not guilty to the charges.

The federal government has suggested that those who want to memorialize slain right-wing extremist LaVoy Finicum’s death site do so utilizing the U.S. Forest Service’s “Plant-A-Tree” initiative. The program allows donors to plant seedlings to honor deceased loved ones.

Finicum supporters, however, have scoffed at the ecologically sound suggestion. They don’t care for the idea of planting a federal government-endorsed seedling. The men guarding the LaVoy Finicum memorial and death site have vowed not to vacate the location until their “patriot” hero receives a permanent memorial on U.S. Forest Service land.

Other “patriots” are waiting in the wings to take over when the current pair of LaVoy Finicum memorial-watchers’ stay limits are up.

“We are prepared to do this for as long as we need to. We have wall tents with wood stoves if we need them. We have snow machines. We have whatever it takes.”

Both of the current LaVoy Finicum quasi-memorial watchers are currently without jobs and subside solely through food and money donated by Finicum supporters.

“If you’re supposed to be somewhere, then the universe will make sure you’re provided for.”

Local residents are concerned that “tension around the site” of LaVoy Finicum’s death could revive tensions between self-proclaimed patriots and federal agencies.

At least one resident thinks that it’s time for Finicum supporters to take his “memorial” elsewhere.

“There’s no need for this whole thing. If they want to honor (Finicum), why don’t they do it where he’s buried?”

Helen Patton, a long-time resident of Burns County, Oregon, says that those “guarding” LaVoy Finicum’s makeshift (and illegal) memorial simply don’t seem to understand that they are breaking the law. Nor do they seem to care that they are causing strife for locals.

“They’re just prolonging this whole thing. It’s a strange situation, and it just needs to go away. We just need to get back to normal.”

A Father’s Day “ceremony” was recently held at the death site of LaVoy Finicum, and it was reportedly attended by his wife, Jeanette. Supporters of Finicum say that they will be at the memorial site for the long haul.

“They want to fight us just over a small little memorial. Fine, we’re here. You might have killed the messenger, but you haven’t killed the message.”

What do you think? Is it appropriate for right-wing extremists to continue breaking the law on federal land? Or is it time for the federal government to put an end to this LaVoy Finicum monument once and for all?

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

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