Who Was Robert "LaVoy" Finicum? The Arizona Man Was Long The Spokesman For The Controversial Oregon "Militia" Group
According to the Oregonian, the man killed in Tuesday's police standoff outside Burns, Oregon, that led to Ammon Bundy's arrest was Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a 55-year-old man who served as the protesting group's spokesman to the media during its occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that began earlier this month. While the exact details that led to the deadly confrontation have yet to be released, officials said that just one person was killed while eight others were arrested, including protest leader Bundy.
Though authorities did not immediately identify the man who died after an "officer involved shooting," Finicum's death was confirmed by his daughter, Arianna Finicum Brown. "My dad was such a good good man, through and through," she told the Oregonian. "He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved."
Just on Monday, Finicum had sat down with the Oregonian and said that "the tenor has changed" in the group's conflict with federal authorities, which included demands to release two ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were arrested on arson charges for setting fire to federal land. "They're [Federal agents are] doing all the things that shows that they want to take some kinetic action against us," Finicum said.
Finicum first gained national notoriety after being interviewed by MSNBC while under a blue tarp. During the unusual conversation, which inspired the hashtag #TarpMan, a rifle-wielding Finicum vowed that he would not be taken alive if his freedoms were violated.
Finicum was a father of 11 and, along with his wife Jeanette, also fostered more than 50 boys in the last 10 years at their ranch in Chino Valley, Arizona. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, four of the couple's foster children were removed during the initial days of the wildlife refuge occupation, which began Jan. 2. "They were ripped from my wife,” Finicum told OPB. “We are very successful [foster parents]. Our track records are good, it’s been a good relationship. [Federal authorities] must have gotten to the governor, who told the state to get them out of there."
Finicum was an author, and his book, Only by Blood and Suffering , outlined a death scene during which the main character kills agents in a fatal shootout.
Finicum and his fellow protesters' tactics were widely criticized, and many, such as the Washington Post, likened them to domestic terrorists for taking over federal facilities while bearing arms. Finicum never shied from declaring his extreme anti-government stance, and his book's introduction offers a foreboding note that perhaps reveals just how serious he was: "It is my belief that freedom will arise again in this land, but only after much blood and suffering. This is my witness and my warning."