Extremism & Terrorism » ADL Blogs
March 8, 2016 0

Shooting Investigation Vindicates Troopers, Raises Questions About FBI Actions

lavoyfinicumshootingOre­gon author­i­ties revealed today the results of their inves­ti­ga­tion into the fatal shoot­ing of anti-government extrem­ist Robert “LaVoy” Finicum by Ore­gon state troop­ers dur­ing an attempt by state and fed­eral author­i­ties to arrest many of the ring­lead­ers of the Jan­u­ary 2 armed occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

The inves­ti­ga­tion vin­di­cated the actions of the state troop­ers who shot Finicum, but revealed that there is a sep­a­rate mis­con­duct inves­ti­ga­tion ongo­ing into some of the FBI agents’ actions at the scene.

On Jan­u­ary 26, sev­eral weeks into the refuge stand­off, Ore­gon state troop­ers and agents from the FBI’s Hostage Res­cue Team attempted to con­duct a planned traf­fic stop of two vehi­cles filled with occu­piers on their way to a meet­ing, so that they could arrest sev­eral of the extrem­ists.  Both vehi­cles ini­tially stopped but the one dri­ven by Finicum sub­se­quently sped off down the road until it crashed into a snow­bank after nar­rowly avoid­ing run­ning into a law enforce­ment roadblock.

As cap­tured on video taken by a police heli­copter cir­cu­lat­ing over­head, Finicum almost imme­di­ately jumped out of the vehi­cle.  As Ore­gon state troop­ers approached from two direc­tions, Finicum twice reached towards his jacket, as if to pull out a weapon (he did have a weapon there, it was deter­mined). At the sec­ond reach, the troop­ers opened fire on Finicum, fatally wound­ing him.

After any officer-involved shoot­ing, there is an inves­ti­ga­tion. In this case, the inves­ti­ga­tion took on added impor­tance because of the sen­si­tive nature of the sit­u­a­tion: anti-government extrem­ists believe that Finicum was delib­er­ately mur­dered and since his death have ener­get­i­cally tried to turn him into a mar­tyr for the “Patriot” move­ment cause, cre­at­ing a risk of future vio­lence.  Indeed, on the week­end before the inves­ti­ga­tion results were released, anti-government activists staged nearly 50 ral­lies across the coun­try to protest his death.

The Ore­gon inves­ti­ga­tion con­cluded that the two troop­ers who had fired shots at Finicum were jus­ti­fied in so doing, because the troop­ers believed Finicum was about to injure or kill some­one.  Another trooper, who had fired three shots at Finicum’s truck as it was about to hit the road­block, was also vindicated.

How­ever, in a sur­pris­ing rev­e­la­tion, author­i­ties announced that the Jus­tice Depart­ment is con­duct­ing a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the actions of five FBI agents present at the scene of the shoot­ing.  The state inves­ti­ga­tion uncov­ered that one FBI agent allegedly fired two shots dur­ing the inci­dent, then allegedly sub­se­quently denied to inves­ti­ga­tors that he had fired his weapon.  Nei­ther shot hit Finicum. The other agents under inves­ti­ga­tion report­edly may have helped cover for the first agent. It is not clear when this sec­ond inves­ti­ga­tion will be complete.

The FBI’s Hostage Res­cue Team was heav­ily crit­i­cized in the 1990s for actions and deci­sions its agents had taken at armed stand­offs in Idaho and Texas involv­ing extrem­ists or fringe groups, but it has not had any con­tro­ver­sies in recent years.

The admis­sion of pos­si­ble FBI mis­con­duct will unfor­tu­nately pro­vide more ammu­ni­tion for anti-government extrem­ists attempt­ing to use Finicum’s death to stoke anti-government anger.  This in turn may increase the risk that right-wing extrem­ists may engage in acts of vio­lence out of some sort of desire for ret­ri­bu­tion. Thus the news of pos­si­ble FBI misconduct—never wel­come under any circumstances—was par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing in this context.

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March 7, 2016 0

“Best Practices” and Counterspeech Are Key to Combating Online Harassment

On March 12, the Anti-Defamation League will play a key role at the first South by South­west (SXSW) Online Harass­ment Sum­mit.  In a series of pan­els at this day-long event, the Sum­mit will focus atten­tion on var­i­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions of hate online, includ­ing every­thing from cyber­bul­ly­ing to the sale of offen­sive mer­chan­dise to hate speech on social media to online extrem­ist recruit­ment and pro­pa­ganda.  The over­ar­ch­ing goal will be to iden­tify the most effec­tive strate­gies to counter all of these forms of cyberhate.

SXSW screenshotADL rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the Sum­mit will all focus on the Anti-Defamation League’s rec­om­mended approach to respond to hate online.  That approach, sim­ply stated, is that all of us – those in the indus­try who cre­ate the plat­forms and the tools, and those of us who use them – have a shared respon­si­bil­ity to pre­vent hate online when­ever pos­si­ble and to respond effec­tively when we encounter it.

There are two key com­po­nents to this approach: indus­try best prac­tices and effec­tive coun­ter­speech.  ADL’s experts will empha­size these two com­po­nents on five sep­a­rate pan­els at SXSW:


  • Indus­try Inno­va­tion and Social Respon­si­bil­ity – fea­tur­ing ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt;
  • How Far Should We Go to Pro­tect Hate Speech Online? – fea­tur­ing ADL Senior Vice Pres­i­dent for Pol­icy and Pro­grams Deb­o­rah Lauter;
  • Respond and Pro­tect; Expert Advice Against Online Hate – fea­tur­ing ADL Assis­tant Direc­tor for Cyber­hate Response Jonathan Vick;
  • Pro­fil­ing a Troll: Who They Are and Why They Do It – fea­tur­ing the Direc­tor of ADL’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism Oren Segal; and
  • Tech and the United Front Against Online Hate – fea­tur­ing ADL Deputy Direc­tor of Pol­icy and Pro­grams Steven Freeman.

ADL will also be pro­mot­ing this mes­sage at other Sum­mit events, includ­ing a Shab­bat din­ner and a recep­tion co-hosted with Hack Harass­ment, a joint ini­tia­tive launched by Intel, re/code, Vox Media and the Born This Way Foundation.

ADL's Cyberhate Working Group

Some mem­bers of ADL’s Cyber­hate Work­ing Group.

To address the industry’s respon­si­bil­ity, ADL has pub­lished a set of Best Prac­tices intended to serve as a guide­post. In a nut­shell, these Best Prac­tices call for plat­forms to ensure that their rel­e­vant guide­lines on hate­ful con­tent are clear, that mech­a­nisms to flag such con­tent are user-friendly, that they will review and respond promptly to flagged con­tent, and that they con­tinue efforts to develop new tech­no­log­i­cal tools that could help them iden­tify a greater per­cent­age of the prob­lem­atic con­tent by themselves.

To address the respon­si­bil­ity of users, work­ing together with the indus­try, ADL has rec­om­mended that var­i­ous coun­ter­speech ini­tia­tives be given the high­est pri­or­ity.  These include, but are not lim­ited to, edu­ca­tional pro­grams, iden­ti­fy­ing and encour­ag­ing promi­nent voices to speak out, and cre­at­ing start-ups and new ven­tures designed to assist vic­tims in reclaim­ing a safe space online.

In advance of the Sum­mit, ADL is pleased that ask.fm, Qui­zlet and Whis­per have agreed to join such major play­ers as Face­book, Google, Microsoft, Twit­ter, Yahoo and YouTube in endors­ing the Best Prac­tices.   We will be ask­ing oth­ers to fol­low their lead, at SXSW and after­wards.  Those who part­ner with us will send a   mes­sage that it is pos­si­ble to con­front cyber­hate effec­tively, pro­tect­ing the free flow of ideas that lies at the core of the Inter­net while at the same time ensur­ing that every­one can freely par­tic­i­pate in this unique forum with­out fear and with­out risk­ing their per­sonal safety or well-being.

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March 4, 2016 1

Multi-State Indictments Bring Bundy-Related Arrests To 38

Updated March 22, 2016, to reflect addi­tional charges and defen­dants.

In early March, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Las Vegas announced charges against 14 anti-government extrem­ists from a vari­ety of states in con­nec­tion with a 2014 armed stand­off between the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and sup­port­ers of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy at Bundy’s ranch.  Pros­e­cu­tors added addi­tional defen­dants later in the month.  As of March 22, 19 peo­ple have been indicted for that con­fronta­tion, includ­ing Bundy him­self and four of his sons.

Many of those indicted on charges related to the Bundy Ranch stand­off, or present at that stand­off but not indicted, have also sep­a­rately been indicted in con­nec­tion with the more recent armed stand­off at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore­gon, in January-February 2016. This includes alleged ring­leader Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, both sons of Cliven Bundy.  As of March 22, 26 peo­ple have been indicted on var­i­ous charges related to the Mal­heur standoff.

Almost all of the orga­niz­ers and many of the par­tic­i­pants of the 2016 stand­off in Ore­gon had taken part in the ear­lier stand­off in Nevada.

The below chart shows the 38 peo­ple indicted so far in the two armed con­fronta­tions. More indict­ments may be forthcoming.

Bundy Standoffs Chart 3-22-16



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