LaVoy Finicum: A Martyr in Defense of Liberty

Given the timing and the approach of the anniversary of LaVoy’s meeting with the Grim Reaper, I wanted to try to present a few different angles to the story that haven’t been too fully explored. His murder was just such a truly avoidable and unnecessary act, but it was almost as though the FBI’s Swift Response team, SWAT, and the Oregon Highway Patrol put the entire structure for his execution together, as some sort of evil, vile and sordid live training exercise, cognizant the entire time that it would end with LaVoy lying on his back, on the snow-covered ground, knees slightly bent in his final death throes.

It’s beyond me how anyone could see this as serving justice. It’s beyond me how law enforcement justified such a mission, given all it already knew and all that was already in the works to end this peacefully. It’s beyond me how anyone could say this was warranted and lawful, just because the men who committed the murder held badges.

I do understand there are many fine men in law enforcement, and I have known quite a few of them in my lifetime, and called them my “close friend”. But for some reason, as the corruption continues to grow at all levels of our government, it is now virtually impossible to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys” in law enforcement. The incongruity of it all is infuriating, since law enforcement by its very charter and definition should not have any “bad guys” within its organizations.

Keep LaVoy’s memory alive and as a reminder to all freedom loving Americans that ultimately in the final analysis, we cannot depend on government to properly defend us from much of anything. The defense of freedom and liberty and one’s self, family and property ultimately falls to each individual of the country, from wherever they may hail. ~ J.O.S.

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum

Raised in the northwestern corner of Arizona Navajo territory, Robert LaVoy Finicum largely came to manhood in and around the sprawling area of Fredonia and Colorado City, Arizona, just off State Route 389, and Hildale, Utah, before his fateful death, his murder by law enforcement, near Burns, Oregon on January 26th 2016, just one day before his 55th birthday. His name is a hallowed one in the annals of the Patriot movement and the minds of most American Patriots, as a man who was willing to fight for those ideas of freedom and liberty and the Founding principles of America.

LaVoy led a small band of protesters, including Cliven Bundy’s sons, Ryan and Ammon, American Patriots who understood that the federal government and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were consistently and constantly acquiring or simply taking water and grazing rights and land unconstitutionally, from farmers and ranchers across America. These men and women were standing firm for property rights under Our Bill of Rights, when they occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2nd 2016 and began a stand off with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, that lasted forty-one days.

LaVoy and anyone else with a proper understanding of America’s Founding understood that the land is a gift of God to man to be individually commanded and cultivated to suit his purposes, and government officials do not have any right to interfere with this unalienable God-given right. In line with this same logic, Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution clearly states that land within the boundaries of a state may only be acquired by the national government, if it has the consent of the state legislature; and then, it can only acquire it for the placement of military forts, arsenals, dock yards and other needful buildings. This procedure was created to ensure that the national government could not simply grab land and use the land as a means to coerce the states and people to do their bidding and to expand its power past the limitations of the Constitution. And, this same principle applies to water and grazing rights, especially those handed down to pioneers’ descendants from territorial grants preceding statehood.

It was from this point of view that LaVoy started his journey towards his destiny, in June 2015, as he wrote the following in two separate letters to the BLM, three days apart that read, in part: “At this time I feel compelled to stand [up for] the Constitution of our land and in doing so please do not feel I am attacking your character. This is not about cows and grass, access or resources, this is about freedom and defending our Constitution in its original intent … I am severing my association with the BLM.”

During this same time frame, LaVoy had expressed his displeasure over ranchers steadily being pushed out of grazing lands like the Grand Canyon-Pashant and BLM tactics, after they called him and told him to remove 24 head of his cattle grazing on “BLM land”, on the Arizona Strip. LaVoy replied that he was “not asking permission”.

After the BLM drained one of his water storage tanks to fight a grass fire, he exclaimed: “[The water is] mine. It’s for my cows. I need it. Quit stealing.” He later took to Youtube where he asked, “You gonna come in there like You did with my friend, Clive?” He concluded: “Well, I’m telling you, leave me alone. Leave me alone, leave Cliven alone.”

This set the stage for LaVoy’s trip to Harney County, Oregon to join Ammon and Ryan Bundy in the Malheur Refuge Occupation, after seeing so many other small ranchers treated unfairly by the BLM, with those truths previously mentioned solidified after standing alongside Cliven Bundy, during his stand off with the BLM. He and all the others were truly making a stand against the overreach of the federal government, and in the process, they hoped to get all America thinking more about liberty.

Just as our federalist Founders didn’t want an all powerful federal government, so too the people, who still hold the ideas espoused by LaVoy and others, such as Cliven Bundy, are simply wary and opposed to any heavy concentration of power in the hands of the federal government, since they have already witnessed, too often first hand, the manner that power is so easily abused, especially through the BLM. However, neither do they see government as evil, or even a necessary evil.

Far from the “white supremacists” and “domestic terrorists” that yellow journalists, such as Kevin Sullivan, and the establishment propaganda press, like the Washington Post, attempted to portray them as being, these men and women were simply strong advocates for a responsible, limited government that favored local solutions and a federalist system inhibiting the centralization of all government into the hands of the few, adhering to the full and proper use of the checks and balances and good government practices set forth in the Constitution.

Noted by B.J. Soper, head of the Pacific Patriots Network, in 2016, and by many patriots previous to and after him: “We’ve let the government step over the line and rule us, and that was never the intent of this country.” And I would add, it was certainly never the intent of our nation’s Founders.

Given the dangerous assaults and violence exhibited by extremists in the protests of Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, there isn’t any justification for the actions of law enforcement against LaVoy and his fellow protesters, who were protesting peacefully, even if they had “taken” Malheur. People were initially able to come and go freely, until the protesters started blocking entrance from fear of federal government infiltration aimed at arresting and removing them, before they achieved their goals. LaVoy certainly wasn’t so dangerous or violent a man that he had to be so sorely mistreated and ultimately executed.

Whether he was armed or not is irrelevant. We regularly see many militiamen at peaceful protests all over America, both socialists and conservatives, going armed with long guns and pistols. Going armed at a protest, as is Constitutionally protected from many legal perspectives, isn’t a death warrant, or at least it shouldn’t be. Our Constitution doesn’t state that anyone must allow themselves to be abused by government agents, or anyone else, and it doesn’t prevent any American from engaging in a proper and lawful act of self-defense, especially if one is defending themselves against government tyranny.

Passenger Shawna Cox captured the entire miserable and dastardly event on her cell phone, and I have watched the video with sound, that captured the moment of LaVoy’s death, so many numerous times, often choking back my own angry tears, to think that people sworn to protect and defend the Constitution could so casually ignore it in this or any case; and, each time, I can only conclude this was a planned execution.

From the first roadblock stop and the shot that hit LaVoy’s driver side mirror to the second roadblock, it becomes well and beyond apparent that this was a planned execution. The bullets were flying at LaVoy’s vehicle before he could even come to a complete stop on the slippery snow-covered road, as the video does show, in fact, a bullet piercing the truck ceiling; and, as he exited the vehicle with hands raised, he was immediately hit in the side by a round, that caused him to flinch to that side — offering the assassins their excuse “he was reaching for a gun” — and multiple rounds then hit him and his life was ended.

Several FBI agents and Oregon Highway Patrol fired on LaVoy, but it was Casey Codding, of the Oregon Highway Patrol, who fired on the vehicle before it ever stopped. FBI agent Joseph Astarita fired the first shot after LaVoy jumped from the vehicle, to divert law enforcement’s attention away from his friends, and in the course of the execution, Codding shot LaVoy in the back twice, just like a coward, even though LaVoy was not brandishing a firearm or any other weapon — even though they knew that LaVoy was an innocent, peaceful rancher without any criminal history who had told them he was on his way to a meeting with the Sheriff of Grant County — even though they knew he had a large family of eleven children and was a good man who had never threatened anyone.

Most good police officers go their entire career without ever having to kill anyone. Codding has killed three people, including a teenager, “in the line of duty”. He’s also one of LaVoy’s murderers.

Whatever happened to “protect and serve”? Who has police forces across the country so indoctrinated and so intensely concerned to the point they see ranchers and family men as the greatest enemy to their country?

There wasn’t even one attempt to peacefully negotiate with the Malheur group and LaVoy Finicum, even though all LaVoy did at the refuge was speak to authorities in a non-threatening manner. It should deeply trouble all Americans that law enforcement had so little conscience and lack of reservation, they could easily shoot LaVoy with his hands raised; equally troubling, they didn’t even check him for a pulse, until they had walked around his body for fifteen minutes, as they placed their lack of respect for human life on full display before the American people.

Far too many law enforcement don’t even understand what it really means to defend the Constitution and freedom, as they set about destroying the freedoms of the American people in an out-of-control display of power at the behest of mayors and governors using them to acquire greater influence and power, i.e. as we currently see unfolding in Virginia via Governor Northam and the Democrat majority in the Virginia legislature regarding proposed gun control measures. Wicked “leaders” could not so subvert our freedoms without willing murderers like Casey Codding.

Today, all Americans must face the certain fact that our federal government is out-of-control and corrupt, nearly beyond the point of salvation. It will kill its own citizens if we try to live too freely, or so it does seem, of late. Who can ever remove the image from their mind, of Vicky Weaver being shot through the head, as she held her baby in her arms in the doorway of her husband’s cabin on Ruby Ridge? An innocent American shot dead by FBI sniper, Lon Horiuchi, on August 21st 1992; look at Waco, Texas in 1993 and the overreaction of the ATF; one incident after another, until the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, when armed patriots came to his defense and said “No More”.

What has happened to this America I love so well, that one can barely distinguish between the Bad Guys and the Good Guys, in the ranks of those charged to protect and defend society? This case and the recent soft coup against the President indicate a great evil courses through their ranks today.

Throughout the history of the FBI, how many times has anyone in America seen any rancher draw his firearm on an FBI agent, or any other law enforcement agent? These ranchers aren’t common low-down thugs. They are fine Americans, the salt of the earth.

Has there ever been an FBI agent who defended or aided or stood alongside a rancher, because it was the right thing to do and it kept with their oath to defend the Constitutional rights of those in their care? Has any FBI agent ever stepped outside his role as a government pawn protecting special interests, to actually protect the people he was supposedly hired to serve and protect?

LaVoy had stated, time and again, a desire to make sure that the standoff ended peacefully, and up until the day of the ambush, there wasn’t any reason to believe that it wouldn’t, since LaVoy had been in constant contact with Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who was quite sympathetic to the cowboy’s cause. These men weren’t “anti-government”; they were anti-tyranny. LaVoy would be alive and well at home, with his family today, acquitted of all wrong-doing, just as many other defendants associated with the stand off have been, if the FBI and the Oregon Highway Patrol had not escalated the situation.

Ironically, LaVoy wrote a book entitled ‘Only By Blood and Suffering“, originally published in 2015, that foreshadowed his own death. The protagonist, a cowboy, dies in a shootout with the federal government, just as LaVoy finally did.

Real American patriots, such as Robert LaVoy Finicum, are far and few between these days, especially in the ranks of our elected officials, since so many so-called conservatives claim to stand for the Constitution against the federal government’s overreach, as they stand by silent and meek, in the wake of its insistent and continuous assaults against ‘We the People’ and our rights to life, liberty, property and freedom from the restrictions of arbitrary force. The faux conservatives are far too willing to allow federal power grabs to go unopposed, as a large, meddlesome, intrusive state and its progressive operated institutions undermine our private economy, economic liberty and the freedom to own property and allocate our own resources, enervating the country’s civic character; but LaVoy Finicum was wiling to go all the way, sacrificing himself and giving his life, in his fight against the Bureau of Land Management, in order to preserve those values that were established centuries ago that respect our God-given rights.

Twenty-one short months of LaVoy’s life passed, between the time he showed up alone at the Bundy Ranch in 2014 and the moment he died a leader of the Malheur occupation in 2016. He died as he had lived, trying to make a difference and protecting the ideas and people he loved; he died a martyr in defense of freedom and liberty.

January 11, 2020

~ The Author ~
Justin O. Smith has lived in Tennessee off and on most of his adult life, and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1980, with a B.S. and a double major in International Relations and Cultural Geography – minors in Military Science and English, for what its worth. His real education started from that point on. Smith is a frequent contributor to the family of Kettle Moraine Publications.