“As I spoke to these folks I realized that they weren’t hateful or on the fringe. Instead, they were neighborly, they love each other as neighbors. They are the kind of folks that would stop and help you change your tire. They’re the type of people that care about each other and for our rights as Americans and as humans. Why did corporate media skew the story instead of looking into the reasons that the protest was taking place? I guess we are just conditioned to trust our news outlets. I think that trust is waning and I would like to propose that the Malheur Refuge protest and the death of one of the protesters should be looked into for yourself.”
Driving south to John Day from Bellingham, I thought to myself just how far away from the urban setting eastern Oregon is. Not just far in the sense of distance but far in the sense that people out here live a different life than most people in America. Out here folks care about each other, they know each other. They look out for each other. They have to, if they don’t look out for each other, who will? Without all of the comforts of large emergency service infrastructure and a grocery store on every corner the people of eastern Oregon have to be there for each other.
FRR: Being unfamiliar with the people out here, what did you expect after hearing media accounts of the Oregon Standoff? Did anything surprise you about your interactions with them?
A day in eastern Oregon made it clear to me that these folks are good, hardworking, caring Americans. I don’t understand why have some of them been deemed terrorists by the media. Why did a small group of ranchers decide to form a protest in such a remote part of Oregon? Why not protest in a big city like normal protesters? Why didn’t they burn things and assault people like the “normal” protesters that we’ve seen throughout America? I wanted to take a good look at it first-hand. There has to be more to the story than it just being some fringe group taking over a federal building with guns, as CNN reported.
FRR: What did you know about the background of the story, and the motives of the Oregon Standoff protesters before tonight?
I knew a little. The Harney basin has been a real hotbed of land deputes and outright destruction of natural resources for decades. By reading the news about the protest in Oregon last year you may think that all of this wrong-doing must be caused by the people who live there. But I learned that all of these transgressions and aggressions have been perpetrated by our own Federal Government.
Just think, when one group of Americans who feel that they have been marginalized and treated poorly by our own government burn down their town, threaten police and civilians with violence, and even commit violence they are called ‘protesters.’ When another group of Americans who feel that they have been marginalized and treated poorly by our government launch a small protest at an actual remote government-run building, they are deemed to be ‘terrorists.’ What’s the difference? I mean, other than burning property, destroying police cars, and beating innocent people.
FRR: Since you are drawing a contrast between they ways certain groups of people have handled disputes with the federal government or other authorities, do you believe LaVoy Finicum and his friends had a legitimate reason to protest, and do agree with the way they handled it?
The difference is that the protesters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge were ranchers and their friends and family. They were trying to bring attention to a very serious grievance they have with how the federal agencies have been behaving throughout out western states. Their grievance was and is sincere and it affects each and every one of us. Two of their neighbors were tried and convicted as terrorists for just doing what they always have done. What were they doing that would cause them to be tried twice for the same offense. What terrible activities were these two ranchers engaged in that would land them in a federal prison after being convicted of terrorism? They were taking care of their property by back-burning their grasslands in order to promote fresh growth and keep noxious weeds at bay so that their cattle would grow up healthy. Well, the wind direction changed and the fire did spread onto federal land, also once thought of as “public land”. It burned more grassland and some fire fighters came out to suppress it. Done. Still a slow news day out there. It happens all of the time. No one was hurt and everyone went home for dinner.
FRR: What do you think America needs to know about the motives of LaVoy Finicum and the other Malheur Refuge protesters? What details have mainstream media outlets left out of the ‘whole story?’
The short story is that the father and son ranchers are now sitting in a federal penitentiary as convicted terrorists. Then other ranchers protested the abuse and heavy hand of our federal government and were swiftly also labeled “terrorists” by our own media. By the end of the protest nothing was burned down, no civilians or police were assaulted, no police cars were burned. None of those things happened. Unfortunately the peaceful protest did end in violence. A protester was shot down by our own government officials on the side of the road standing with his hands up. LaVoy Finicum was that protestor. The Finicum family lost someone they loved that day. No one rioted in the streets for LaVoy. No one beat anyone with a pipe or blocked traffic. We all watched the video of this man being shot down, yet most Americans went on about their day. Shame.
FRR: Do you think that during the year since LaVoy’s death the attitudes of other Americans have changed about him, the Bundys and others involved with the Oregon Standoff?
When I heard that the Finicum family was holding memorial for LaVoy, I wanted to travel to John Day to pay my respects too. I was astounded by how one-sided the press had been about the protest and eventual death of LaVoy Finicum. I didn’t know anyone at the memorial, not personally at least. I was an “outsider” in many ways. I live in a city. I don’t own land, or raise livestock. I pay a water bill and sometimes go out for brunch. I did not know how I would be received by these folks, many of whom where there at the protests one year ago. According to the media I was supposed to be among a fringe group of potential terrorists. What I found in John Day was the very opposite of what CNN said I would find. So, I guess, since my entire perspective changed, probably thousands of others have, as well.
FRR: What would you tell our readers about the things that impressed you most about your visit to LaVoy’s memorial? What would you say to others who have not had the opportunity to learn more about the people involved and the events leading up to this remembrance?
The people that showed up for the memorial were, well, friendly! They were Americans, like you and I. They had jobs and families, and bills, just like you and just like me. They showed up at the memorial because they were friends and family of LaVoy or other members of the protest. As I spoke to these folks I realized that they weren’t hateful or on the fringe. Instead, they were neighborly, they love each other as neighbors. They are the kind of folks that would stop and help you change your tire. They’re the type of people that care about each other and for our rights as Americans and as humans. Why did corporate media skew the story instead of looking into the reasons that the protest was taking place? I guess we are just conditioned to trust our news outlets. I think that trust is waning and I would like to propose that the Malheur Refuge protest and the death of one of the protesters should be looked into for yourself.
Great article! Wish more people would do their own homework on this incident. Freedom is not free and takes work. I wish American’s would do the hard work to keep their liberties. (many don’t realize they are losing it) As a fellow rancher we know first hand how the government is trying to regulate us out of business! SAD!
Thank you for taking the time to share this insight. Those of us not living adjacent to that area, needed to see what happened on a more personal level. Similar incidents have happened in other places in the West. The heavy handedness of some BLM agents have caused deaths in San Juan County, Utah as well.
For most of my life I have lived in rural CA and now AZ. In small towns are neighbors are not only our friends their are family. We depend on one another first because we do not have the infrastructure of the larger population areas. Liberty and prosperity is most important to us because we are self-reliant.
I was fortunate to meet some of the Bundy family in 2015. I totally related to their plight and learned they are students of our Constitution. They are kind and gentle people who were attacked by federal agents. How can people watch what happened and not know the bullies were the Feds who had all the vehicles and firearms, etc. who killed their cattle and tried to hide it by burying them in shallow graves? The Feds harassed and killed mother cows who were suckling their young. Some of my friends who were there at the time hand fed the calves. The Feds were brutes. And Harry Reid and Sheriff Gillespie were co-conspirators in the bullying and tyranny. This is all fact. This is my back yard.
It is time to draw the line in the sand. We the People are the sovereigns of this country. We have the power. We need to get involved, especially at election time, at ensure we are electing people who will be our servants and not our masters. And we must not forsake our ranchers whose very lives center on raising our food.
There is so much the “public” doesn’t know about allotments, they are an investment by the rancher we buy it and then we pay the federal government to use it.
Le Voy was standing up for what is written in all the Federal Acts protecting our grazing rights!
If you are reading this please inform yourself before you listen to biased reporters, we are stewards of the land!!
I agree. I know little about the allotments, mainly through videos, etc. One especially good video was done by Prof. Angus MacIntosh who worked for the BLM, became disturbed how his BLM boss was cheating ranchers from their rights by having them sign off on some paperwork. Apparently the ranchers were not aware of their rights and this BLM boss made it his business to cheat them. Disgusting. Angus MacIntosh became a compassionate expert in range laws. There are many others who support ranchers but there is no media coverage. Grass roots helps but we need to get more of this information out to the public so they understand the bureaucrats and many in Congress do not support ranching or any other right We the People have. The main reason I am aware at all is because of the Bundys situation in 2014.
Keep up the good work. We have to carry on so our ancestors did not die in vain, or LaVoy Finicum. Things must change, and it is up to us to do so peacefully, if at all possible. Right will always prevail- no matter what shape things seem to be in now.
Thank you for this wonderful article….I shared it….I already knew these people well because I watched via live stream Pete Santilli, Journalist (who is not standing trial) every day his work, his videos that showed what they were all about and doing. It was great to have a Journalist embedded with them showing what they were doing, and getting the truth. This article explains those people exactly as I know them from the video and also meeting many of them in rallies and at protests, which one was in Washington DC. I have met Jeanette Finicum two times now and she is a wonderful lady, as well as some of LaVoy’s daughters. Wonderful family whom I give my gratitude for being so knowledgeable in our Constitution and trying to complete LaVoy’s work that he enjoyed doing when he was here with us on earth. Just think how wonderful America would be right now if everyone was like these people that were involved with the Oregon Malheur Wildlife Protest!
correction: Pete Santilli “who is now standing trial”
When we take the time to meet people, when possible, isn’t it remarkable how much more informed we are? The Bundys and others that I got to meet and listen to for about 2hours about 2 years ago were kind, gentle, loving people standing up for their rights against tyrannical agencies and some law enforcement (I support constitutionally functioning law enforcement).
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