Militia members stood outside a federal court in Tucson to protest the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher shot and killed by authorities during an Oregon standoff. Nick Oza/azcentral.com
Robert “LaVoy” Finicum told police they would have to shoot him.
The Arizona rancher and anti-government protester died on the side of a remote Oregon road in 2016. He was shot after he ran a police roadblock, plowed into a snowbank, got out of his truck and advanced on authorities.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors this week voted to rename another remote stretch of road after Finicum, calling him a patriot who died defending his beliefs.
“I am moved by people who stand up for what they believe in,” Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius said Friday. “He died for what he believed in, did he not?”
Angius said she was honored to bring forward a vote to rename a two-mile section of Yellowstone Road near the community of Cane Beds and call it LaVoy Finicum Road.
Residents in the area overwhelmingly supported the name change. Angius said the petition for the change was brought forward by community members, including Finicum’s relatives.
“They wanted it to be named to honor a native son,” Angius said, adding residents living near the road were notified of the requested name change and offered an opportunity to oppose it.
“They were 89 percent for it. Only one person was against it, and another person wanted the road to have both names.”
Name change approved in 3-2 vote
Not every county official agreed with the decision. The Mohave County Planning and Zoning Department initially rejected the name change, which forced supporters to appeal to the supervisors.
The board approved the name change Monday in a 3-2 vote. Two supervisors said they opposed the change because Finicum took the law into his own hands and died in a confrontation of his own making.
A story in Mohave County’s Today’s News-Herald said Supervisor Buster Johnson raised concerns that the name change would give the county a “black eye” and damage economic development efforts.
“I don’t think what he did was the right way of handling things,” Supervisor Jean Bishop said in the News-Herald. “I don’t recognize him as a hero, but I do recognize him for being a well-respected member of his community.”
Siege of wildlife refuge in Oregon
Finicum served as spokesman for the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. Led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the group took siege of a remote Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016 to protest federal land-use policies.
Finicum and the Bundys claimed they would occupy the Malheur Wildlife Refuge until the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies relinquished all public lands and turned them over to individual states.
The 41-day siege began Jan. 2. On Jan. 26, Finicum left the refuge with several other occupation leaders to speak at a public meeting. They were stopped by authorities on a road and ordered out of their cars. Finicum refused to stop. He was shot a few minutes later when state police and FBI officials said he got out of his truck and reached for a loaded handgun.
Caution: The video below contains graphic images.
The FBI has released video of state police officers fatally shooting Robert Finicum, one of the armed Oregon protesters. This video contains portions of the original FBI video, showing the moment Finicum was shot and killed.
Eight other members of the group were arrested. The siege officially ended two weeks later, on Feb. 11.
A federal jury in Oregon acquitted Ammon and Ryan Bundy in 2016. They are currently on trial in Las Vegas, along with their father, Cliven Bundy, on conspiracy and weapons charges. Authorities have accused them of leading an armed standoff with BLM agents in 2014.
Cattle rancher near Utah state line
Finicum ran a cattle ranch in Cane Beds, which is near Colorado City and the Arizona-Utah state line. He was active member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had 15 children.
For years, he and his wife raised foster children until the state removed them from his home as a result of his involvement in the siege.
In 2015, Finicum self-published a book titled “Only by Blood and Suffering,” a thriller that mirrored his beliefs about overreaching government, tyranny and constitutionality. It tracked a fictional family’s struggle to survive and preserve individual liberty in a post-apocalyptic America.
More than 1,000 mourners gathered for Finicum’s memorial service at an LDS Church in Kanab, Utah, in 2016, according to the Spectrum in St. George, Utah. His funeral included an open wooden casket custom made by his family.
Bishop Ken Heaton described Finicum as “a faithful, committed, temple-worthy” member of the church.
St. George resident Craig Applegate said Finicum led the congregation’s adult priesthood quorum of elders.
“Through the years, him and I became real close,” Applegate said. “He always made us do service projects – we put roofs on people’s houses, punched cows for all the neighbors, it was just one thing after another. We were always busy. … It didn’t matter if they weren’t members (of the church) or what.”
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