‘Ac­tions have con­se­quences’

FBI re­lease video of shoot­ing; pros­e­cu­tors use oc­cu­piers’ own words against them

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Am­mon Bundy and his fol­low­ers made am­ple use of so­cial me­dia and videos to sum­mon armed re­cruits to join their takeover of a wildlife refuge and to de­clare their readi­ness to stand their ground. Now fed­eral au­thor­i­ties are us­ing the oc­cu­piers’ own words against them.

Two crim­i­nal com­plaints un­sealed this week against the 11 pro­test­ers un­der ar­rest show that FBI agents have care­fully scru­ti­nized so­cial me­dia post­ings, in­ter­views and on­line talk shows that were broad­cast from the Mal­heur Na­tional Wildlife Refuge dur­ing the siege that be­gan Jan. 2.

As four hold­outs con­tin­ued to oc­cupy the refuge in the snowy high coun­try near Burns, Bundy and sev­eral other jailed lead­ers were due to ap­pear in fed­eral court in Port­land on Fri­day to an­swer charges they used force or in­tim­i­da­tion to pre­vent govern­ment em­ploy­ees from car­ry­ing out their du­ties.

A fed­eral judge said Thurs­day she will not re­lease any de­fen­dants while the oc­cu­pa­tion con­tin­ues. Bundy, through his at­tor­ney, has re­peat­edly called on the hold­outs to leave peace­fully.

The ranch­ers and other pro­test­ers took over the refuge to de­mand that the fed­eral govern­ment turn pub­lic lands over to lo­cal con­trol. They have com­plained about what they say are oner­ous fed­eral rules gov­ern­ing graz­ing and min­ing rights across the West.

The crim­i­nal com­plaints de­tail some of the ev­i­dence against the oc­cu­piers.

A day af­ter the takeover be­gan, for ex­am­ple, a video posted on a web­site showed Bundy say­ing the group planned to stay for sev­eral years. He called on peo­ple to “come out here and stand,” adding: “We need you to bring your arms.”

A video posted Jan. 4 showed an­other de­fen­dant, Jon Ritzheimer, say­ing he was “100 per cent will­ing to lay my life down.”

In a video posted a day later, Ritzheimer talked about Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and other oc­cu­piers tak­ing up a “de­fen­sive pos­ture” at the refuge against a feared FBI raid.

“Right now un­der­neath the tarp right there — LaVoy Finicum is sit­ting un­der­neath the tarp, and he’s not go­ing to let them come through,” Ritzheimer said in the video. That raid never came. Finicum was killed Tues­day night in a con­fronta­tion with the FBI and Ore­gon State Po­lice on a re­mote road. Bundy and four oth­ers were ar­rested dur­ing the en­counter, and more fol­low­ers were taken into cus­tody by the next day.

At one point there were a cou­ple of dozen ranch­ers and other pro­test­ers holed up at the refuge, but they be­gan clear­ing out af­ter the ar­rests and the killing. The last four hold­outs have de­manded as­sur­ances they will not be ar­rested.

The FBI on Thurs­day re­leased a video show­ing Finicum’s death, to counter claims he did noth­ing to pro­voke his killing.

In the aerial video, Finicum is pulled over in his white truck but then takes off in the ve­hi­cle and plows into a snow­bank be­cause of a road­block. He gets out of his truck and has his hands up at first, then reaches to­ward his jacket pocket at least twice. He is shot and falls to the snow.

“On at least two oc­ca­sions, Finicum ap­pears to reach his right hand to­ward a pocket on the left in­side por­tion of his jacket,” said Greg Bret­z­ing, spe­cial agent in charge for the FBI in Port­land.


This photo taken from an FBI video shows Robert “LaVoy” Finicum af­ter he was fa­tally shot by po­lice Tues­day near Burns, Ore.

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