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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 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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January 27, 2016 0

Oregon Standoff: Developments

  • On Jan­u­ary 2, a loosely orga­nized group of armed anti-government extrem­ists led by Ammon Bundy seized con­trol of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge head­quar­ters build­ings located near the town of Burns in remote south­east­ern Ore­gon.  They later named them­selves Cit­i­zens for Con­sti­tu­tional Freedom.oregon-standoff-arrest
  • On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 26, Ammon Bundy and sev­eral oth­ers were arrested by fed­eral and state law enforce­ment offi­cers dur­ing a traf­fic stop near John Day, Ore­gon. LaVoy Finicum, who served as a spokesman for the group, was killed dur­ing the arrest; another occu­pier was slightly injured.  Two oth­ers were arrested in Burns, Ore­gon, while another occu­pier turned him­self in to author­i­ties in Arizona.
  • Those arrested so far include Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Brian Cav­a­lier, Pete San­tilli, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, and Jon Ritzheimer. For back­ground infor­ma­tion on all of the occu­piers who were arrested or killed, as well as many of the other remain­ing occu­piers and allies who has been at the wildlife refuge head­quar­ters, see: The Occu­piers of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge Head­quar­ters.
  • Although some occu­piers have report­edly left the Mal­heur refuge head­quar­ters, oth­ers remain.

LATEST UPDATES

4:15 PM (EST) oregon call to violenceOccu­pier Sean Ander­son cradling an assault rifle and urg­ing peo­ple to come to the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge appeared on a YouTube live stream ear­lier today and said: “There are no laws in this United States now. This is a free for all Armaged­don. Any leo, or mil­i­tary, or law enforce­ment, or feds, that stand up and fuck their oath, don’t abide by their oath are the enemy. If they stop you from get­ting here … KILL THEM!”

3:23 PM (EST) Dave Fry, an Ohio res­i­dent still occu­py­ing the wildlife refuge after the arrests of sev­eral cohorts yes­ter­day made anti-Semitic com­ments in his live feed at the refuge. Fry spoke about “fake Jews,” a term used by a num­ber of white suprema­cists and con­spir­acy the­o­rists who believe that many peo­ple who call them­selves Jews today are not truly Jew­ish but are descended from a race of peo­ple called the Khaz­ars.  Drum­ming up anti-Semitic myths, Fry claimed that “fake Jews” believe “they’re supe­rior to peo­ple,” are “evil” and “do a lot of evil things with their money.”

3:10 PM (EST) Occu­pier Vic­to­ria Sharp’s audio account claim­ing LaVoy Finicum was mur­dered has been shared nearly 3,500 times on Face­book alone, leav­ing aside other places, as extrem­ists attempt to turn Finicum into a mar­tyr for the anti-government causes.

1:31 PM (EST) Occu­piers at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge have begun using heavy machin­ery — appar­ently either to dig a trench or to build an earthen bar­rier, pre­sum­ably to impede entry.

1:26 PM (EST): The cur­rent leader of the Ore­gon stand­off appears to be Jason Patrick, who took over the role from Blaine Cooper early Wednes­day. Patrick, who was at the Bundy Ranch in 2014, is an anti-government extrem­ist and Three Per­center known in his home state of Geor­gia for his out­bursts against law enforce­ment and court per­son­nel, and for his attempts to bring video cam­eras into courtrooms.

12:51 PM (EST): React­ing to the evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion in Ore­gon, the anti-government extrem­ist Pacific Patri­ots Net­work issued a “Stand By” order to their mem­bers and fol­low­ers. “Cooler heads must pre­vail,” they announced. “We do not wish to inflame the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and will engage in open dia­logue until all the facts have been gath­ered.” Based on pre­vi­ous, sim­i­lar inci­dents, this is the expected response from most orga­nized groups, who tend to under­stand the futil­ity of engag­ing the fed­eral government’s fire­power. Indi­vid­u­als tend to be more volatile (and less pre­dictable) in these situations.

12:28 PM (EST): Right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck issued a state­ment on Face­book Wednes­day morn­ing, writ­ing that he was “deeply sad­dened by the loss of life” in Ore­gon, but that the pro­test­ers at Mal­heur should not have been armed. Because they were so vocal about their com­mit­ment to using vio­lence, as nec­es­sary, to defend their beliefs, Beck argues, “The[ir] cause was lost before it began.”

11:52 AM (EST): As ten­sions increase, so too does the appar­ent rhetoric by some of the stand­off par­tic­i­pants. Dur­ing a live feed of the stand­off on YouTube, a male can clearly be heard say­ing “There will be a shootout… None of them are safe. When I get outta here, I’m gonna hunt them down!”

11:45 AM (EST): Michele Fiore, a Nevada state assem­bly per­son, has taken to Twit­ter to repeat the extrem­ist claim that LaVoy Finicum was mur­dered by the gov­ern­ment. Fiore is an ally of Cliven Bundy, the anti-government extrem­ist whose stand­off with author­i­ties in 2014 in Nevada inspired his sons to seize the wildlife refuge in Oregon.

11:31 AM (EST): Sup­port­ers of the siege at wildlife refuge in Ore­gon, includ­ing Twit­ter users as well as wlavoy memehite suprema­cists on Storm­front , are cir­cu­lat­ing an image of LaVoy Finicum in an attempt to turn the extrem­ist into a right-wing mar­tyr. Finicum allegedly was killed while charg­ing law enforce­ment offi­cers who were attempt­ing to arrest Finicum and other occu­piers. The meme repeats an extrem­ist claim cir­cu­lat­ing on the Inter­net that Finicum was mur­dered while unarmed and with his hands in the air.

11:20 AM (EST): The remain­ing extrem­ists at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge stand­off are still defi­ant and  not ready to sur­ren­der to author­i­ties. Duane Ehmer of Irrigon, Ore­gon, and off and on par­tic­i­pant in the stand­off, said on Face­book that “now the wolves are at the gate, Were [sic] are those Oath keep­ers.” He is refer­ring to the anti-government extrem­ist group that often injects itself into con­flicts. More infor­ma­tion on the Oath Keep­ers.

10:17 AM (EST): Some anti-government extrem­ists are already attempt­ing to por­tray Finicum as a mar­tyr; the risk of retal­i­a­tion by anti-government extrem­ists, locally or else­where, against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is fairly substantial.

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