That Oregon incident; was it a first attempt at a modern day Boston Tea Party or the failed (again) repeat of the Whiskey Rebellion? Certainly the debate about the wisdom of the armed action will be debated for a long time.
The tragic outcome should not come as a surprise. Those well-armed men who occupied the buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wrote Lavoy Finicum's epitaph the moment they entered the building. Finicum chiseled it in bold letters when he let it be known that he was always armed and would rather die than go to prison.
Trying to run the gauntlet of federal vehicles, crashing in the attempt and leaping from his SUV struck me as a case of suicide by cop. Or maybe it was a deep-seated desire to become a martyr for the cause. Who knows his reasoning - the adrenaline was pumping as soon as he saw the roadblock and careful, reasoned thought was tossed out the window the second he hit the accelerator.
The ag community has come down firmly on both sides of the issue. There are those that believe it was an ambush and Finicum was gunned down in cold blood, executed by government assassins sent with orders to do the deed..
There are others who saw the Malheur occupation as a criminal act, the taking of federal vehicles as grand theft and the tearing down of fences as destruction of public property. Most of the folks who lived in the nearby town of Burns wanted them gone. Dwight and Steve Hammond, the Oregon ranchers sentenced to five years in prison for setting fires on public lands near Malheur, walked away from the protesters, saying through their attorney, “Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond Family.”
Pete Crow, editorialized about the shooting in the Western Livestock Journal, and was bombarded with comments from people on both sides of the issue. One man replied, ”Well said, Pete. They had a mission. They got the documents they were looking for. Should have left two weeks ago and gone after the BLM thru legal channels......the outcome of this did not help anyone, it has hurt all!"
Another observer wrote, "An armed insurrection taking over federal property and threatening law enforcement is not a sensible way to get resolution to an issue. These out of state yahoos are getting what they deserve. They are shedding a horrible light on all ranchers and tarnishing those of us who abide by the rules with their unlawful ways."
A Constitutional strict constructionist said, "It is my understanding that, according to the Constitution, the federal government is allowed to own 10 square miles of land in Washington DC. All other land is owned by the states within their borders, and the people within those states. The federal government has been breaking laws for decades. Now, the Supreme Court which is only allowed to interpret law, is now making laws and by-passing the congress and the vote of the people. How long before the Feds admit to the route they are taking toward tyrannical rule?"
Another suggested checking out the hard-to-watch video "released by the FBI on the roadblock arrest and the subsequent shooting of Finicum. He had ample opportunity to comply with officers requests but chose to run and then to reach for a weapon...sad he died, but it was his choice."
With the long and well-known history of police forces across the country to shoot quickly at every perceived threat, Finicum knew the personal risk involved. Witness the young and now dead 19 year old man in Chicago a few months ago. Caught walking away from an officer of the law who claimed he thought the deceased might have had a weapon, 19 well-aimed shots were fired.
Or the Cleveland incident three years ago, where a back-firing car started a 23 minute police chase. 137 shots were fired at the couple, 15 by one man from the hood of the car. In the same city, a 12 year old boy carrying a toy gun in a park was shot and killed seconds after a police officer arrived.
Police shooting and killing an American citizen happened almost 3 times a day last year. A Washington Post report published on December 24, 2015 claimed 965 were killed and all but 90 were armed, most of them while carrying a gun and fleeing arrest. Suicide by cop is a well-known phenomenon but, after a lengthy chase of a potentially dangerous individual, one could blame many of those cases on blue line adrenaline overdose.
The armed insurrection in Oregon was done by a group of men who were known to be well-armed and made it plain that they were ready to die for their cause. Finicum, who had had bragged that he always carried a gun, was the most vocal about his intentions, even writing a book glorifying the violent but fanciful defense of freedom.
There is no doubt that the authorities in charge of the road block were prepared for a violent outcome. They would have been fools to ignore Ryan Bundy's statement that the men at the refuge were willing to fight and die to protect the 'rights of states, counties and individuals to manage local lands.' There is also no doubt that Finicum made an insanely dangerous decision to try to flee, a choice that immediately escalated the situation. Many people, especially in the black community, could have predicted the outcome. "He was shot, running from the cops? Yeah, that's not news."
Malheur was a replay of the Whiskey Rebellion with the same outcome.