LaVoy Finicum speaks to the media on January 15, 2016.
BURNS, OREGON – on January 26, 2015 the FBI (with the help of other law enforcement) ambushed and murdered Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. Based upon two personal eye-witness accounts, it is clear that the stories being widely circulated are false (due to laziness, misguided motives, or wickedness) and the truth should interest the friends of liberty, and those who want to know the actual fate of LaVoy and how our government agents acted yesterday.
I had just been to visit LaVoy, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, and Ryan Payne the day before, and had only left the refuge yesterday morning in the very early hours. In fact, I left just after our last Free Capitalist interview. Shawna Cox was the last person I hugged.
I’ve already gone on record regarding my thoughts on the protest, on Ammon, and last night I did a Periscope broadcast related to the tragic death of LaVoy, along with the arrest of Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, and others. But, as the news has filtered out today, in both the mainstream and the alternative media I have been alarmed at the false accounts, hearsay accounts, and speculation regarding the events of that night.
Since I was not a witness to the arrest and shooting yesterday, I too have spent time scouring the Internet for the latest word and updates. But, by this morning a disturbing and intolerable pattern had started to emerge and I cannot sit silently. Here’s why – during my visit to meet and interview these men, I not only made contact and got to know them, I was also able to observe the workings and activities at the Refuge. While I was there I observed, what now appears to be a portion of the sabotage that lead directly to the ambush, arrest, shooting and ultimately the murder of LaVoy.
I didn’t realize then, what I was observing at the time. In hindsight, it is now clear there were those on the inside working to help set last night’s police action. This was not only a betrayal of trust for the Bundy’s, LaVoy and others, but something more sinister. And, this is amplified by the false stories that are now circulating – and despicably so through outlets like OregonLive.com. Make no mistake, based upon the only credible first hand witnesses – LaVoy Finicum was strategically ambushed and murdered – and the factual accounts must be defended and the false narratives resisted by those who love and cherish liberty.
There are three eye witness statements related to the events so far. Of these, only two are credible.
First, the wife of Ammon Bundy, Lisa. She reported that she received a phone call from Ammon, after his arrest and while he was in the back of the police car. Ammon told her that LaVoy had been murdered, in cold blood with his “hands up” and that he had also been shot multiple times, even after he was on the ground.
Second, the driver of the first vehicle, Mark McConnell, was reportedly released after several hours of questioning, and he responded to the social media frenzy about LaVoy’s murder by debunking the concern, posting two videos arguing that LaVoy had acted aggressively and that LaVoy had charged at the FBI agents, provoking their shots.
Third, an 18-year old female passenger, Victoria Sharp, who was in the second vehicle that was driven by LaVoy, gave a detailed account of her experience and eye witness of LaVoy’s murder.
For the reasons explained below, only Lisa and Victoria’s accounts are credible. Worse, Mark’s account and the activities and messages a few other “Patriot” group leaders are spreading are more than un-credible, they are suspect.
Lisa Bundy’s Account: Lisa’s account was the first direct report of events that didn’t come from law enforcement or government sources. And, both Lisa and Ammon have a sterling track record of focusing on calmly, rationally, and accurately disseminating the facts and circumstances surrounding these events. Lisa’s account comes directly from Ammon – and given that Ammon is still in federal custody and there are no reports of anyone else having been able to talk with him, her account is highly valuable. Certainly, once having verified that this report actually came from Lisa and her conversation with Ammon immediately after the tragic events – there is nothing suspect. If Ammon Bundy says that LaVoy was murdered in cold blood – under these circumstances, and based upon my own assessment of Ammon’s character and the motives and interests at issue – then I give a very high degree of credibility to this account. For the record, Lisa’s first hand statements are “I talked to Ammon after he was arrested…they shot [LaVoy] in cold blooded murder” and “He called me right after, gave me the details and told me to tell everyone before the news got out the lies. Then got off the phone!!!”
Mark McConnell’s Account: Mark was the driver of the vehicle (a Jeep) that was carrying Ammon. Mark posted two videos that are being circulated among Oath Keeper members and other patriot group members (i.e. Melvin Less). In Mark’s report he is visually upset about the “rumors” and “asinine comments” regarding how LaVoy was innocent and murdered. But critically, he admits that he was too far away to witness the actual shooting. Yet, virtually every major media source is reporting his account as credible. In his videos, he estimates that the shooting took place approximately 1 mile from where he was being detained and that he only saw the second vehicle drive off “from about 200 yards” towards the road block about “a mile” away. But, the substance of his report is that he claims LaVoy subsequently exited his vehicle and “charged at the law enforcement” which provoked the shooting and his death. But, what is the basis for this? Mark says repeatedly, “I did not see the shooting” and that “I didn’t see it” and “I’m not going to speculate on it.” Yet, he claims that LaVoy was “foolish” and had been in a “heated discussion” with fellow passenger Ryan Payne. He contradicts himself repeatedly, because for some reason, he really wants people to “calm down.” Apparently, this desire is even at the expense of the truth, and it may be worse. Ryan Payne had exited vehicle number two (as described below) and was arrested and did was not present at the shooting. Thus, there are only two living, non-government witnesses to all of the events – Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp. In sum, even Mark admits that his account is based upon second hand reports from Shawna Cox and Ryan Payne (both presumably still in custody) and based upon remarks that Mark said changed multiple times and that he was simply putting together “pieces here” and “pieces there.”
Victoria Sharp’s Account: Victoria was a passenger in the back of the second vehicle driven by LaVoy. She witnessed events from the initial stop of vehicle 1 all the way through to the shooting. She has given a lengthy interview describing events – consistently and calmly. In her report Victoria states that when LaVoy was first pulled over, he and Ryan Payne (who was the front seat passenger) repeatedly requested to talk to the county Sheriff rather than the FBI. Her report is that this angered the FBI agents. In response to FBI demands LaVoy put his hands – both hands – out the window to show he was not a threat. She also reports that from the moment they were pulled over there were approximately 20 laser spots she could see on her and the other passengers, including from pre-positioned snipers in the trees, positioned on the side of the road up in the forest. Significantly, she also reports that the first shots were fired by the FBI when Ryan Payne looked out the passenger side window and was shot at, but was not hit. She reports that no one in the vehicle ever returned fire or pulled any guns or weapons. According to Victoria, after the FBI refused LaVoy and Ryan’s request to remove the two woman from the vehicle (who had come along to sing at the anticipated meeting), LaVoy explained that he was going to drive down to talk to the Sheriff and started to drive away. At or about this point, according to her account, Ryan Payne exited the vehicle and was arrested. The two women in the back seat (Shawna Cox and Victoria) along with Ryan Bundy (also in the back seat) tried to take cover laying on the floor boards because as LaVoy drove away the FBI showered the vehicle with bullets – “at least 120.” Victoria recounts that she and Shawna were screaming and pleading that the FBI stop shooting. Victoria then explains that LaVoy drove the truck into some kind of snow embankment and it was stuck, so he got out of the truck with his hands up. She says he was “just walking with his hands in the air.” According to her account, she then personally witnessed that the FBI, and multiple shooters shot him multiple times, including after he hit the ground and that as he lay dead on the ground his hands were still up above his head. She then says, after this, the government continued to riddle the vehicle with dozens, possibly hundreds of bullets, and that the only reason the two women and Ryan Bundy survived was that the shooters had a bad angle. Ryan Bundy was hit by a bullet or shrapnel caused by this firestorm.
Thus, the most credible accounts, and the only complete first hand account, is that the government pre-planned this encounter, it was no “traffic stop” as the US Attorney is now reporting (“a traffic stop on protesters [that] turned deadly.”) It was deadly from before it started, because it was a pre-planned extraordinary show of force by the government, and shooting began without any shots being fired by LaVoy or the passengers in his vehicle. The government agents continued to fire on a fleeing vehicle despite having set up a road block and despite no threat of force by LaVoy or the passengers, and after one of the passengers exited the vehicle and was arrested. They shot LaVoy with his hands in the air, and continued to shoot him after he fell to the ground. The government then continued to fire upon the vehicle with three passengers huddling down in the back seat on the floor. This was, by all accounts, a military style ambush, and there is no indication that the government agents were in danger at any time, or that the excessive use of force was provoked or justified.
The credibility of Ammon and Victoria weighs heavily towards their accounts, while the sole contradictory account of Mr. McConnell is by his own admission, based upon him piecing together hearsay. But, is that all that’s going on here?
As I reviewed these facts, there are a few striking elements and events. First, the government clearly knew the travel plans of these parties – including the timing and the route. Second, the government made no advance effort to avoid violence – this was a secretive operation. The significance of this might be overlooked by modern presumptions and media spin, but fair observers have to remember that Ammon and LaVoy were repeatedly open to discuss matters with the government. They routinely went to the FBI operations center and the Sheriff’s station to discuss their protest and their grievances. And, earlier yesterday, approximately five hours before these events, the FBI had been invited by Ammon to come to the Refuge and have a face-to-face discussion. In all of this, neither Ammon nor LaVoy were given any demands by the FBI and they were repeatedly given free pass at public gatherings and eating at local restaurants, etc. The point here is that the government clearly used surprise, and massive show of force, against men who on all previous encounters had been civil, rational, and reliably calm and willing to talk. In addition, no demand had been made to them, except the Sheriff’s initial demand that they leave the Refuge. This is a critical point because – after the refusal of the Harney County Sheriff’s offer of safe passage – Ammon and LaVoy told the Sheriff directly that they would consider his offer at a later date. That is the LAST discussion prior to these events regarding any demand made upon the leaders of the protest and occupation. Thus, it should have been no surprise that LaVoy would have been caught off guard by this massive operation, and the massive show of force, and that LaVoy would specifically ask to go and speak to the Sheriff. Now, it may have been that LaVoy was wanting to go and speak with the Sheriff of Grant County (where this all occurred). It is widely known that unlike the Harney County Sheriff, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer had publicly stated that the FBI should leave, and that the federal government should engage in a discussion of the grievances of the protesters. Quite literally, according to Victoria’s account, the massive ambush and use of force was employed by the FBI in response to LaVoy trying to go to the man in government and law enforcement that was most receptive to his prior request for safety and protection. That same man, Sheriff Palmer is also the central law enforcement figure in the county where this incident took place. This may not have occurred to anyone yet, but given that I work in the legal world for a living – an act to prevent LaVoy and others from petitioning for relief from the duly authorized Sheriff is ALSO quite possibly a felony violation of federal law, by the government – in fact, the same federal law under which these parties have now all been charged. The scheme of the FBI clearly interfered with the Sheriff’s ability to exercise his duty, and these citizens’ right to petition Sheriff Palmer. While the FBI could defend itself by saying that an arrest would only be a temporary restriction and both Sheriff Palmer and these parties could talk later – by implementing their plan, directly in response to LaVoy invoking this choice – that defense would be more difficult, particularly given that LaVoy is dead.
In any event, the significant consideration here is that law enforcement clearly had inside help. During my visit to the Refuge I observed purported militia members acting suspiciously and apparently giving reports of the travel plans for Ammon and Ryan Payne to someone outside and this included details of the timing of this very incident, less than 24 hours before it occurred. In fact, while I didn’t know it at the time, the subject of the conversation was a printed flyer advertising last night’s events – in Grant County where Ammon and Ryan were invited to be the speakers. Think about this, and the timing. It was widely reported, including by the New York Times, that Ammon and LaVoy had already reached out to Sheriff Palmer. Why? Because Sheriff Palmer is a member of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), had previously been that organizations “lawman of the year” and had openly challenged the jurisdiction of federal agents in his county. In fact, LaVoy knew that Sheriff Palmer had publicly challenged the notion that federal agents had any law enforcement or policing authority in Grant County, outside of the confines of the federal court house. Now, a community event was scheduled and Ammon and LaVoy and Ryan had been invited. It seems quite likely, that the federal government intervened, how and when it did, to prevent Ammon, Ryan and LaVoy from securing any further sympathy or assistance from Sheriff Palmer and/or the people of Grant County. Think this is too conspiratorial? NBCNEWS.COM is reporting the same thing. Pete Williams recently published, “The decision to carry out the arrests was set into motion when the defiant leaders left the refuge Tuesday to attend a community meeting in the town of John Day.” Given the massive show of force and preparation (snipers in the woods, road block etc.) and the short amount of travel time, this “decision to carry out the arrests” was pre-planned and prepared and when Ammon and LaVoy and Ryan decided they were going for sure – the plan was “set into motion.” I should also note, that everyone at the Refuge knew something was different, and early in the morning there were reports of planes landing nearby in the dark, and of pre-positioned supplies staged by the government around the perimeter.
Finally, all of this makes more troubling, any accounts by purported patriot groups or supposed militia members, that directly contradict Ammon and Victoria, based on nothing more than hearsay. As we speak, the Refuge is under siege, with the last remaining holdouts still refusing to surrender. The live video stream has revealed that the remaining armed resistance supporting the occupation are independent supporters with the exception of a few “3 Percenters” and one or two from outside militias. Where are the Oath Keepers? Where is the perimeter other groups openly told the FBI that they were establishing to “prevent another Waco?”
Wherever they are, the organized militia groups are not at the Refuge, are not there to defend these last few occupiers who believe wholeheartedly that they are making a stand against tyranny, and who are now emboldened by the ambush and murder of LaVoy Finicum. On their website Oath Keepers has a news report about events, and has published an official release from “The Pacific Patriots Network” issuing an “immediate “STAND BY” Order to all those who are mobilizing” in response to LaVoy’s murder, stating “[w]e will not pursue any action until all of the facts have been pieced together regarding the traffic stop and the arrest of Ammon Bundy.” See the parroted language of the government about a purported “traffic stop?” That is spin. Think I’m going to far? Again, even NBCNWS has noticed. Pete Williams also reports that “The FBI earlier described the stop as an “enforcement action” done by federal agents and Oregon State Police in connection with the occupation.” rather than as a routine “traffic stop.” Finally, Brian Miller and the official “Three Percenter” club is now stating that its members should wait “until we can clear everything up” and is advising those who want “to go and get involved to stay away from the refuge I repeat stay away.”
What happened is clear. Its the story being told that is getting all muddy, with all the hand wringing, posturing, and butt-covering. Look, I’m always for cooler headers, rational thinking, and sound strategy. But, that seems to be missing from Mr. McConnell and those spreading his hearsay, ironically after he has villified reports based upon one of only two actual eye-witnesses to the whole event – including LaVoy’s murder.
In the end, here is the truth. The government could have, but didn’t prevent this. The 3 Percenters could have, but didn’t prevent this. The Oath Keepers, the Pacific Patriots Network and other militia groups, could have prevented this, but didn’t. Blood has been spilled, as a significant group of Americans – from all walks of life and all over this country attempted to stand in resistance to tyranny.
Justice Scalia recently re-affirmed that “when the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny.” The fact that LaVoy is dead, one day shy of his 56th birthday, is a rebuke to those of us in the liberty movement. It is a stinging rebuke. We are not well trained or well organized, and we are certainly not united.
More than 60 years ago, the great scholar and Constitutional advocate J. Reuben Clark warned that “we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back.” He also warned, “I say to you that the price of liberty is and always has been blood, human blood, and if our liberties are lost, we shall never regain them except at the price of blood.”
I have deep respect for these militia groups I’ve criticized, and I have deep respect for our country and its government. I have come to love, respect and appreciate the Bundy’s and those who rallied with them, including LaVoy. Among his last words to me were a proclamation of his faith in Christ and in this Country and in the Cause of Liberty. He knew the risks involved, and he had a genuine, cheerful smile on his face – that accompanied what he profoundly risked. But all of this is not enough. Being “trained in arms and organized” means more than bravado, ammunition, big guns, and camouflage. It means more than prominence and respectability for big groups and big names. And it must also means more than Facebook and Twitter warriors, and less than credible alternative media reporters who advocate as much personal nonsense as they do principles of liberty.
If we want to recover from this stinging rebuke, we’ve got to do something that no generation of freedom loving people has yet done, since the time of America’s Founding. We’ve got to be organized, as Jefferson predicted, from the great national government, down through the states and counties, to the individual households of our people. We’ve got to be trained in arms and have organized militia’s but this is less than 1/7th of the blueprint. We will never outgun or out militarize the United States or any of her states. Thus, while force and militia’s are essential and invaluable, by themselves, they are the unorganized, infighting tragedy we’ve just witnessed. We’ve got to build a full society of men and women who are committed to the principles of liberty as enshrined in the Declaration and the Constitution. In addition to militias, we must command educational, financial, and media control – and this is all still only 50% of the blueprint. I could tell you more, and outline the blueprint here – but that will have to be for a follow-up publication or broadcast.
In sum, every time a tragedy like this happens, the hearts and minds of patriots are pricked, energy and passion flow, and the prevalent question is “what do we do now?” If the reader is honest, I think this is the question that is before us today – all of us. What do we do now? That has been the question I heard first as a boy, and it has resounded even in my own liberty organizations – every time our failure increases its intensity and the cause of liberty is revealed to be failing. Why?
I’ll tell you the answer.
Its because this is not a simple or quick fix. It is not something one person, or a small group can do. Its not a hobby or a club. It is not for the feint of heart, and it is not for broken homes and broken marriages that bicker over budgets and neglect children for fleeting hobbies. We have to rise above and work though these things. And, as a side note – a commitment to liberty can do that. The path forward requires dedicated Americans. Dedicated, red-blooded Americans from all walks of life, from all of our varied subgroups and subcultures, who are REALLY willing to stand up for freedom no matter the case – and unite under the banner of liberty. But, even this is still not enough. It takes a blueprint, so we can build a veritable liberty based society that can quickly and powerfully correct America’s course, and powerfully and uncompromisingly influence the course of her institutions – its churches, its schools, its governments, its medicine, its businesses, its culture and its play. That, my friends, is a tall order, so tall – that the vast majority of our patriots either give up, tune out, wimp out – or minimize and marginalize to focus on only a small piece of this puzzle. But, that won’t due.
When I last talked with LaVoy he was fascinated as I explained to him why I had come to talk with him, to discuss this circumstance of the occupation and to visit with Ammon and Ryan face-to-face. I told him that I saw the heart, the Spirit of the Lord, and the conviction of these patriots, that I could see it in their eyes, and in their actions and in how they had comported themselves. I told him that I was undeniably required to show him and Ammon and Ryan and the others my respect and love. But, I also told him about a broader view, and throughout the day, I told him that while I didn’t want to be critical or suggest that anything in the liberty movement or in the efforts of these protesters at the Refuge was bad, or wrong, or misguided – I did tell him squarely, that it needed to be pushed forward, advanced, and taken up to the next level. I told him that I respected what he and Ammon and the others were doing, and that I only wanted to see their goals successful, and that I had some experience and insight and an small, rebuilding group of liberty lovers spread across this nation who could help with the larger, overall cause. He agreed, and smiled hopefully. He arranged for us to meet with several of the key people at the Refuge, and we spent the day there. It was quite a day. Towards the evening we were able to listen to Ryan’s presentation and then start to share this same perspective of the broader blueprint with Ryan and Ammon and others. But, that was just the beginning.
Yesterday, those with eyes to see, saw an undeniable reality check, about where we stand with our freedoms and liberty, and how overstretched and oppressive federal and state law enforcement has become. We cannot deny how quick to anger we as a people have become – especially through our government. We cannot deny how slow to reason, to act in good faith, and how intolerant are our government agencies and their bureaucrats. We also saw how futile are our best efforts are- even through groups like I’ve mentioned. We fight our enemies and ourselves, and liberty suffers – and blood is spilled. In the end – we saw the deliberate and strategic ambush and subsequent murder of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. Whatever others think of him, he was an American. He was a man committed to a cause – and that cause was liberty! The world is not better with him dead, our government is weaker with these horrible acts of tyranny and the people who know what is going on – are heart-broken, stunned, and many are angry. Hopefully.
Today, we have friends in jail. The US Attorney says they will be arraigned about 5 minutes after I publish this – after that they will prosecuted by a United States Attorney with the full force of our government and the financial and legal resources it commands. These friends will need defended. That will take resources, good minds, and passionate support. I here publicly pledge mine. Anyone who has direct contact with these men and woman are invited to reach out to me directly – I will help.
LaVoy confessed to the media that he believed freedom was sometimes more important than life. He has proved his sincerity. Have we? His test in this life is over. Ours is not. How much more blood must be spilled – before YOU, my friend reading this, will make a choice?
Do you think you’ve already made the choice? Do you already stand for liberty? Me too. But it is not enough! Self-evidently it is not enough. We have got to advance this cause. We have got to elevate our power and effectiveness. Too many Americans are living lives of quiet desperation – in all areas – while the tyranny of unjust men marches forward. It is simply not enough. Whatever you’ve said to yourself up until now, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum is a new witness, in a long line of witnesses – inviting us to pick up the torch and carry it further. But, we HAVE to carry it further. We have to build a real, veritable liberty society of patriots – or we lose.
We’ve been loosing a lot lately – politically, legally, socially, economically, etc. But, the cause of liberty will not lose. We can accomplish what no prior group of Americans has accomplished – we can finish the work of our Founder’s revolution and take liberty, prosperity and peace – even further. Let us come together. Let us awake and arise. I know that some of you, a few of you, can “hear” me. Let’s go. I invite you to reach out. Make contact with each other, with other lover’s of liberty. We’ve got to help our friends. What an example they have been. We’ve got to stand for liberty. This is not just about ranchers – its about all Americans.
We’ve got to do it based upon principles – and a strategic blueprint that can win!
Its a tall order. A very tall order. Nevertheless, it can be done. If not us, who? If not now, when?
If you only hope that is true – reach out. Make contact. We have a long, but worthy road ahead.
Note: Please consider this your personal invitation to my 10 pm (Mountain) Periscope broadcast. After downloading the Periscope app, follow me and you’ll get a ping when the broadcast starts.