PAROWAN — Several local ranchers in Iron County came together Wednesday evening to pay tribute to Mormon Arizona cowboy Robert LaVoy Finicum who died Tuesday after federal agents fired on him on U.S. Highway 395 just north of Burns, Oregon.
Phillip Gardner organized the tribute late in the day and used a local popular radio show to let the public know. Even with the short notice however, more than two dozen ranchers attended the event held in Parowan in front of the Iron County Courthouse.
The tribute was to give locals an opportunity to remember Finicum and to show their support for the message of freedom the 54-year-old rancher carried during his life.
While Gardner said he didn’t know Finicum personally, he still felt moved to do something in light of the events that unfolded in the last 24 hours.
In an emotional plea to county leaders, Gardner begged officials to do something to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen in Iron County.
“I wish we could make a statement all over the country that please, whoever’s in charge of our counties, stand up and take some control. Don’t let this happen here,” he said.
Gardner invited anyone to speak out but only a couple of men did; one of them was Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller.
Miller called Finicum’s death a travesty and said he hopes the truth would come out.
Speaking in a somber tone to the group, Miller also shared how he had been reflecting on the flag hanging outside of the courthouse.
“As the people have been sitting and visiting and talking I paused and looked up at the flagpole and I looked at that flag of this nation,” he said, “and I have to be honest with you — I have to think how many lives and what the cost has been, to allow that flag to be raised on that pole and what it truly represents.”
In some of his final words, Miller referred to the remodeling of the courthouse he and his fellow commissioners recently approved funding for and compared it to the remodeling work that he feels needs to be done throughout America.
“We need to maybe consider what it’s going to take to do some remodel work into the hearts of our fellow citizens and what it really means to be Americans and that we don’t continue to bring terror upon the people of this nation,” he said.
Some of the ranchers shared their feelings about Finicum’s death, saying they didn’t believe it was only a “traffic stop” as reported in the national media.
“I believe it was more of an ambush than a traffic stop,” one Iron County rancher said.
Finicum’s death was part of a police confrontation Tuesday afternoon involving him and eight others, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who were arrested that same night. Three others from the group were also simultaneously arrested.
Authorities had issued federal warrants for Finicum and the Bundys for their roles in occupying the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, three weeks ago after a protest against the imprisonment of Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, both of Diamond, Oregon.
Those arrested Tuesday night include:
- Ammon Edward Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho
- Ryan C. Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
- Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
- Shawna Cox, 59, Kanab, Utah
- Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana
The Finicum family issued a statement earlier Wednesday thanking those who have reached out to them during this difficult time and asked for prayers and help to get the truth out.
“This fight against tyranny is not over. Press forward,” the statement read.
The family also added they can extend forgiveness, referencing Christ as “LaVoy’s exemplar.”
“Forgiveness is what we can extend and understanding is what we want. Christ was and is LaVoy’s exemplar. Though there are evil and conspiring men at work, Christ still forgave the executioners for they knew not what they did,” the statement read.
A Paypal account has been set up in Finicum’s name to assist with covering expenses.
The circumstances and details surrounding Finicum’s death are still unknown at this time as there are currently several conflicting accounts of what really happened. St. George News will continue to bring you this story as it unfolds.
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