By Sherry Adair and B. Samples
A meeting held in Snowflake, AZ August 4, 2018, featured speaker Jeanette Finicum, rancher and widow of LaVoy Finicum. From his videos Robert “LaVoy” Finicum loved his country and constitution. He and his wife lived on their working cattle ranch in the far northwest section of Arizona called the Arizona Strip. He was living the American Dream until things started to go wrong. LaVoy was shot and killed by law enforcement officers while involved in a standoff in Oregon at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge January 26, 2016, one day before his 55th birthday.
Additional speakers helped to set the stage, if you will, for Jeanette to tell her story. First up was Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen who spoke on state sovereignty. “We need our state to stand up and act like a state,” she told the audience. She went on that most schools don’t teach American government. Private property in Arizona is approximately 18% of the total land available. The rest is owned by government entities such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Parks and tribal lands.
The second speaker was Bob Baker, a retired BLM employee with 43 years of environmental work, and who still litigates and collects data in an effort to fight for individuals’ rights. Baker explained how managing public lands began to change when environmental activists groups began to use NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) rules to manipulate federal lands in the courts. Because of this, there are many trade-off deals conducted that continue to erode the rights of the public’s access to federal lands.
The third speaker was Mark Hess of the Center for Self Governance, who has produced a three-part series on LaVoy Finicum called LaVoy: Dead Man Talking, a J. C. Lofthus Film due out in December but available only to those who wish to host a live screening. Hess, who is from Washington state, is an excellent speaker and works to educate the public on constitutional issues such as Dual Federalism, states’ rights, etc. He also explained that when a citizen is labeled by the government, we must pay close attention to the definition of the label. Finicum was labeled as a domestic terrorist, but in reality, he didn’t meet the actual definition. Nevertheless, he was shot on site.
All of this information has to do with LaVoy Finicum and how he was influenced by his neighbor just over the Arizona-Nevada border, Cliven Bundy. Bundy had come to what he believed was a constitutional crisis on his ranch versus the rights of the BLM to take away his grazing privileges. This began the journey for Finicum as he studied the U.S. Constitution to try to learn what was happening to ranchers in the West. Finicum created a whole series of videos of himself as he went through a transformation from a beloved family man who loved ranching to a man who became a protestor at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. And gave his life for the cause.
With all of this being a very sad ending to this story, Jeanette Finicum is still alive and dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s untimely death under questionable circumstances. She has been traveling around the country speaking and setting the story straight about what kind of man her husband was and showing video of that fateful and tragic day her husband lost his life for taking a stand for what he believed were his constitutional rights.
Jeanette and LaVoy were married for 25 years, have 12 children and had fostered over 60 children. She and her youngest daughter had planned to take over the ranch, however, they were forced off their property for two years after his death and she was denied her rights to permit. As of November 2017, they were allowed back on their property. Her daughter had worked the ranch with her father, but Jeannette has had to learn everything from scratch.
After LaVoy’s death Jeanette described being shunned by former friends and members of their church. Her foster license was pulled but has now been reinstated. “The media created an illusion of who he was,” she said. “While traveling I was followed by the FBI and the BLM to my speaking engagements, the sponsors were bullied, I was label-lynched and put on a watch list,” she continued. She had to fight for the rights of her husband’s book “Only by Blood and Suffering: Regaining Lost Freedom.”
At the time of this meeting, Jeanette was still attending the trial of the FBI officer who was accused of shooting LaVoy. He has since been found not guilty as were the Oregon state police officers. According to Jeanette on a video on her Facebook page, she is thankful to the jury and understands they had a hard job to do with the evidence presented. The scene where LaVoy was shot went unsecured from 4:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. The FBI ordered the state police to use no bodycams or audio. They had stopped LaVoy’s car in a “dead zone” that had no phone or internet coverage. All strange circumstances indeed.
The next step for the Finicum family is they have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the United States, other federal entities, the state of Oregon and others. Life goes on at the ranch without LaVoy. Jeanette and her daughter are managing the ranch these days although her daughter recently wed. Jeanette has learned to ride a horse, round up cattle and all the many enduring duties involved in running a cattle ranch.
The trailers for LaVoy:Dead Man Talking are available to view now on www.youtube.com/user/csgovernance. The video series is only available through late spring 2019 for those who want to host a live screening. To set up a screening simply go online to either CenterForSelfGovernance.com or OneCowboyStandforFreedom.com. Afterwards there will be DVDs and Online Demand available.
For more details and video footage or to buy LaVoy’s book, go to OneCowboyStandForFreedom.com. And, if you have a chance to watch LaVoy: Dead Man Talking regardless of your political persuasion, if you are an American, you should watch it and make up your own mind on how this tragedy went down.
“Majority rule must stop at our unalienable rights. Without that, pure democratic rule is a terrible thing. It’s like two wolves and a lamb voting to see what’s for dinner.” —LaVoy Finicum, Only by Blood and Suffering: Regaining Lost Freedom