When it comes to the use of deadly force to end political protests, there is an obvious discrepancy in how the authorities deal with causes. The Occupy Movement was allowed to languish on federal properties for years even as the camps were infested with accounts of rapes, murders and destruction of private and public property.
Even with such rampant lawlessness, state and federal authorities across the country offered a wide berth to the anarchists who stood for nothing but rage and violence.
After the demise of Occupy came Black Lives Matter, another movement dedicated to division, rage and violence with a sprinkling of racial supremacist ideology mixed in.
In addition to promoting virulently racist ideologies like the imposition of segregation on university campuses, Black Lives Matter has been instrumental in justifying the destruction of buildings and untold violence around the country- all in the name of supposed racial justice.
Several cities encountered widespread violence as authorities maintained a distance from the looters and rioters and the mainstream media labeled these vicious thugs as “protesters.”
Heck, even Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, urged that as her city burned and citizens had their shops destroyed, those destroying in the name of Black Lives Matter needed “space to destroy,” as if the right to act like a thug was a constitutionally protected right.
However, when armed, but peaceful, protesters took-over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, this “anything goes” breed of law enforcement promptly went out the window. Though the group had remained peaceful and articulated that they did not intend violence, on January 26th, 2016, a joint force of federal agents and Oregon State Troopers swarmed a convoy of protesters who were en route to a town hall meeting to discuss their political grievances. Unwilling to bend to the militant presence, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum ran the road block. He emerged from his truck with his hands up but was shot in the back within seconds multiple times.
Of course, the standard justification was offered: “He reached for a gun.”
Within days, the FBI and state authorities released aerial footage of the encounter and declared the shooting to be righteous. Finicum was not black, was not an anarchist or a socialist; thus, the heavily-militant response was justified by authorities- just like it was justified by authorities in Waco and Ruby Ridge.
Just to firm-up their supposed justification, the shooting has been investigated by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office as the Inspector General investigates the actions of FBI authorities. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has declared the shooting of Finicum “justified and necessary.”
Officers “shot Mr. Finicum because they believed he was reaching for a handgun and was about to use deadly force against them or a trooper armed with a Taser,” Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Oregon State Troopers fired six shots at Finicum, hitting him three times. FBI agents fired two shots. Sheriff Nelson noted that FBI authorities did not originally declare the shots fired at Finicum, a fact which has helped prompt the investigation.
Because nothing says “on the up-and-up” like withholding information concerning the use of deadly force while hurrying to put the matter to rest…
Though our nation has become accustomed to challenging the split-second decisions of law enforcement agents, as a general rule, we should be less eager to scrutinize the decisions entrusted to professionals who put their lives on the line.
With that being said, however, such authorities cannot be given authority to do whatever they please. We should note that the protest at the refuge had been peaceful up until the point where militarized authorities sieged-upon a convoy of activists en route to discuss their political grievances. Like Ruby Ridge and Waco, the authorities brought the fight to those who would be arrested and shot, not the other way around.
The eagerness of authorities to close the book on this sad chapter and promptly push the narrative that authorities were justified in the killing (while simultaneously withholding information) should give citizens pause in accepting this hurried justification.