BURNS, Ore. (UPI) — About 100 people and dozens of vehicles participated in a “rolling rally” to protest the killing of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the armed protesters occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon for the last three weeks.
Saturday night’s rally represented strong anti-government sentiment with some vehicles displaying the United States flag and others the Confederate flag. Signs read “Entering Nazi Germany” and “FBI Go Home.” One person protested against the rally, holding a sign reading “Militia Go Home.”
There are still four armed protesters occupying the refuge, which was seized by the group on Jan. 2 in protest over the federal government’s land-use policies.
“I feel we are living in a very corrupt government. Right now people are getting pulled out of their car, getting guns pointed at their heads, and they killed an innocent man,” protester Judi Rodgers, who carried a sign reading “Welcome to Nazi Germany,” told The Washington Post.
Finicum, 56, was shot and killed on Tuesday after engaging in a standoff with Oregon police as they arrested protest leader Ammon Bundy and four others.The FBI recently released graphic footage showing the standoff, which authorities said shows Finicum reaching for his waist before being shot.
Supporters of the occupation were outraged by the shooting of Finicum, a rancher from Arizona and spokesman for the occupiers. An eyewitness, a woman in the vehicle with Finicum when it was fired upon by police, said Finicum had his hands “in the air” when he was shot.
“I want to caution you that the video does show the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum,” Greg Bretzing, an FBI special agent, said in a statement. “We realize that viewing that piece of the video will be upsetting to some people, but we feel that it is necessary to show the whole thing unedited in the interest of transparency.”
The video shows Oregon police pursuing two vehicles including a Jeep and a white pickup truck driven by Finicum en route to a community meeting.
Police pulled over the two vehicles as Bundy and two others exited the Jeep while Finicum and three others remained in the pickup truck.
The truck then sped off following the arrest of Ryan Payne, another occupation leader, as officers pursued and fired at the vehicle before it crashed into a snowbank in an attempt to get around a police blockade. The truck nearly struck an officer standing by the road.
Finicum exited the vehicle with his hands raised and appears to reach twice for his left jacket pocket, which Bretzing said contained a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
Police then shot Finicum, causing him to fall backward and raise his arm before lying still.
“Actions have consequences,” Bretzing said, as quoted by The Oregonian. “As the video clearly shows, it was a reckless action that resulted in the consequences you have seen here today.”
Police apprehended the three people who remained in the pickup truck, which also contained two loaded .223-caliber semi-automatic rifles and a .38 special revolver. They also provided Finicum with medical attention about 10 minutes after the shooting.
At the FBI press conference the following day, Jan. 27, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward was emotional, saying the shootout “ended badly.”
“It didn’t have to happen. We all make choices in life. Sometimes our choices go bad,” he said haltingly, appearing to choke up as he spoke these words.
Daniel Uria contributed to this report.
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