Lone demonstrator keeps 24-hour vigil for LaVoy Finicum

ST. GEORGE — A solitary figure with a thick beard and wearing a black cowboy hat stands in protest Tuesday in front of the St. George BLM offices on East Riverside Drive. His name is Will Lehman. He began his vigil at midnight and will end it tomorrow at midnight.

Lehman spent the night in his sleeping bag on a lawn chair with a tarp pulled over himself to keep out the dew, in temperatures so cold Monday night, he said his hands were shaking when the sun came up. Multiple thermoses of coffee stand beside his makeshift bed. He has invited no one else to join him.

Will Lehman is holding a 24-hour vigil in the memory of LaVoy Finicum in front of the St. George BLM offices on E. Riverside Drive on Feb. 9. 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
Will Lehman is holding a 24-hour vigil in the memory of LaVoy Finicum in front of the St. George BLM offices on E. Riverside Drive on Feb. 9. 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Lehman is at the BLM offices to protest the death of LaVoy Finicum. While he said he does not condone the seizure of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, he said the death of Finicum was an injustice he cannot abide.

He made clear that he has no issue with the local BLM or the people who work there, but only wants to make a stand against what he believes is an unnecessary death.

“I’m here because I believe LaVoy Finicum was unjustly killed in Oregon,” Lehman said.

Finicum was shot and killed by the Oregon State Police during an attempt to arrest several members of the armed occupation. The FBI video of the shooting has generated considerable controversy from both those who support the occupiers and those who support the state and federal officials involved.

Lehman has spoken with several BLM employees and found them to be understanding of why he chose to hold a vigil.

“They’ve been courteous and they respect my right to exercise my first amendment right to hold this vigil,” Lehman said. “They understand why I’m upset and what I think needs to be done. I’ve had no problem with them whatsoever.”

“I wanted to make the statement — I am peacefully assembled … here on BLM land,” he said.

Discussing his vigil, Lehman grew quiet and apologized for his obvious emotions. Tears came to his eyes and he took a moment to compose himself.

“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a little upset,” Lehman said. “I have been for days.”

There needs to be a non-partisan, independent, thorough investigation into the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, Lehman said.

Will Layman is holding a protest vigil in front of the St. George BLM office on E. Riverside Drive. Feb 9, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
Will Lehman is holding a protest vigil in front of the St. George BLM office on E. Riverside Drive. Feb 9, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“I’ve reviewed the tapes from the FBI … they shot a man with his hands up,” Lehman said. “The man (Finicum) wasn’t right — I don’t think his actions were right — but if we allow the government to execute people, to punish them on the side of the road … who’s next?”

While the actions of those who took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge were misguided, Lehman said, they still had the right to exercise both their first and second amendment rights.

“As far as I can tell, everything I’ve read and everything I’ve seen there were no overt acts that would justify what happened up there … it didn’t need to come to this,” he said. “This is America, we’re not the third world, we’re not the old Soviet Union. LaVoy was in town, several times, talking to the sheriff, unarmed. They were going to a meeting in another town … I believe that if they’d been handed a warrant, they would have surrendered.”

When law enforcement takes it upon themselves to punish people, we’re in trouble,” he added.

The standoff continues in Oregon, with four remaining protestors approaching day 40 of the occupation. The takeover began in early January when a group of protesters, which included Ammon Bundy, began occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge offices near Burns, Oregon.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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18 Comments

  • Chris February 9, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Will Lehman is apparently really stupid, but that fits the Bundy/ Finicum mold perfectly. First of all, it was not the BLM that shot Finicum, but rather the Oregon state police. Secondly, it’s not “BLM land” that he’s sitting on. He tells us that “if they’d been handed a warrant, they would have surrendered.” Bull! They were given the opportunity to surrender at the initial stop, and Finicum chose to escalate the situation by fleeing at high speed. It was more than obvious that the police wanted to take him into custody, but he did not capitulate. If you escalate any situation with armed police, you deserve what you get.

  • Rainbow Dash February 9, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    “As far as I can tell, everything I’ve read and everything I’ve seen there were no overt acts that would justify what happened up there … it didn’t need to come to this,” he said. “This is America, we’re not the third world, we’re not the old Soviet Union. LaVoy was in town, several times, talking to the sheriff, unarmed. They were going to a meeting in another town … I believe that if they’d been handed a warrant, they would have surrendered.”

    With all due respect, your “belief” is wrong.

    LaVoy stated in an on camera interview with MSNBC that “… I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box” and “Absolutely I’m not going to live my life in a cell” repeatedly when asked what he would do if and when they came to arrest him. It’s clear to me, based on his own words, that he had not intention of surrendering when they came to arrest him and that he lived up to those words.

  • anybody home February 9, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Note to Will:
    A group of irate citizens of Oregon will be in Utah soon, armed and ready for a fight (although peaceful unless provoked) and they will be taking over Zion National Park. They’ll block the Park so no one can use it. They’ll also occupy federal offices there, use the computers, go through the files to identify the names and phone numbers and social security numbers of employees. They’ll drive into Springdale at will and harass anyone there who happens to be a Park employee, threaten families and generally raise hell. When they learn where you live, you can expect them to visit you, too. They’ll continue to make the point that their protest and occupation are peaceful (unless someone tries to stop them in which case “it could get violent.”) Of course, if any legitimate law enforcement officers decide to come down on them for creative trouble and committing crimes in your neighborhood, it’s possible that one of them will make good on his claim that he will not be taken alive. In this case, he’ll refuse to stop when a legitimate law enforcement office demands this. He’ll drive away from the stop at high speed, then jump out of his vehicle shouting “Shoot me!” and will not put up his hands, but reach into his jacket and he will be shot. You’ll be glad to see this happen on your own territory because this guy has been threatening and victimizing and vandalizing Zion for a month and you’ll see that this was a legitimate action by the law enforcement officials.

    And there you have it.

    • observer February 10, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Problem is Zion Park is open, while the Refuge was empty, vacant. From all the videos the refuge had many people coming and going. In one, there’s a woman attempting to incite a confrontation, but she got nowhere. If the Feds would have stopped playing their cat and mouse game, creating fear of imminent attack, most probably wouldn’t have been on the defensive.

      Most likely in Zion, they would have been able to camp legally and calmly hand out information and educate. But at Zion, no private property, nor public lands are being “threatened” by the Uranium folks.

      One day you may actually become thankful that someone stood up (while you sat at a keyboard), opening up some serious governmental and private corruption. Uranium is serious business, and one bomb sent down on US soil, or one mistake up there in Oregon, and miles of land will be contaminated and millions will die. Oh but why should any of us care, it’s only Oregon so let “anybody home” handle the fallout.

      • Rainbow Dash February 13, 2016 at 12:17 am

        Observer,

        I m going to quote Billy Madison here because this one quote sums up my feelings about you comment. Here it is:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQCU36pkH7c

        [Observer], What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
        At no point in your rambling incoherent response were you even close to anything that could
        be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
        I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.

  • 42214 February 9, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Cite him for camping without a permit.

  • tcrider February 9, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    give it up dude, not many people around here care about your welfare cause and I wish you and your kind would keep it near the white scum bundy ranch, just go away.

  • tcrider February 9, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I will call in a complaint for loitering and a freeloading welfare bum looking for handouts.

  • delong February 9, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    He must have missed Finicum’s multiple statements on camera about never going to jail and that he would die before ever being arrested. Reading is fundamental…

  • mrsmith February 10, 2016 at 8:58 am

    “Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” – Bob Marley
    I guess Bob deserved to die?

    “Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the Gun down.” -Malcom X
    I guess Malcom got what was coming to him?

    “The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson

    • 42214 February 10, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      mrsmith, you forgot the poor victim’s at Mountain Meadows that put their guns down under a flag of truce and were shot in the back by their Mormon “Brothers”. Does that fit into your narrative?

  • .... February 10, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Arrest the bum for loitering and littering oh yeah and one charge of being stupid !

  • Will February 12, 2016 at 1:10 am

    I want to thank the employees of the BLM St George office for allowing me the opportunity to exercise my 1st amendment right. I enjoyed visiting with those of you who came out and visited with me and made sure I had water, and also the employee who offered to get me lunch. Spending time speaking with you, showed me that you are reasonable men and women, who love this country and actually want what’s best for her. I told you I would not encourage anyone to stay and protest and I would make sure it did not get unruly, and I was true to my word. As well, I told you I would lay my life down to protect you, and I meant what I said, and that oath will never be broken.

    I swore an oath to defend this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic, I meant it then and I still stand by it. I will not live in rebellion, and I will not encourage anyone else to engage in rebellion.

    I am not saying that I believe Lavoy was in rebellion, in fact, I believe he was exercising his rights and did not commit any overt act that was treason or terrorism.

    I want to thank all the people who stopped by to visit and talk with me and those who brought me hand warmers, and food and drink. I was overwhelmed by your love and support. I especially want to thank the woman who hugged me when I really needed it, I will never forget you kindness.

    I also want to thank those who stopped by in opposition, believing that my protest was something other than it was, and left in agreement when they understood my position. Listening to your positions on the public lands was definitely worth my time and helped me to understand your position, in particular that the lands would be destroyed, mismanaged, and that corporations would destroy our wonderful and beautiful country here in Southern Utah without the BLM.

    Nevertheless, I believe in local rule and I believe that government that is local does the best job, because it easier to protest their actions and depose them if they fail to listen to the electorate. I do not agree that state control of the public lands would destroy them, and in fact, I believe that state management would meet the needs of all interested parties, far better than control from Washington, thousands of miles away.

    Destruction of our lands is not something I want, and in fact, I have organized cleanups of the public lands for several years. My wife and I have organized the cleanup of wild cat dumps on the Arizona strip, and to date, we have picked up over a 100 tons’ of trash, and I hope we can work together with the BLM on this project again this year.

    As well, I want to thank the family members of the Lavoy Finicum who came out and shared a bit of the family history with me. I was blessed by meeting all of you. My life and understanding of Lavoy is better for it. I am truly sorry for your trouble and I mourn with you your family. You are the salt of earth, so was Lavoy.

    Finally, my position is, and will continue to be, that their needs to be an independent investigation into the shooting of Lavoy. I believe this investigation should include neutral parties with the experience in investigation to look at all the facts that led up to the shooting. As well the investigation team should look into how this type of violence can be avoided in the future, but still allow citizens to exercise their rights. This event started well before the road block, and I believe it could have been avoided.

    While I was there, I was asked by member of federal law enforcement if I thought an independent investigation would help settle things down, that is if it would be accepted. My response was that I did not know and I needed to think about it. I still do not know, but after careful deliberation I can say that failure to do so will definitely heat things up.

    As well, I think that if the investigation presents methods to avoid this type of bloodshed in the future, the public, the radical left, and the radical right, will all see that progress, and perhaps, that hope will settle things down.

    This is opportunity to change the way we do things, let’s not miss it.

    I absolutely believe there could have been a resolution that did not end in bloodshed and believe as Americans we owe it to ourselves to seek out better solutions, so that next time we can avoid the death of anyone, even those we disagree with, even those we love to hate.

    • Rainbow Dash February 13, 2016 at 12:01 am

      Will,

      Thank you for your post. Though we disagree, I can tell by your actions and response that you are a reasonable and intelligent man and I respect your views and your actiona in this situation. If the Bundy’s had done what you did, I would say the same thing. I respect their views but not their actions.

      “I am not saying that I believe Lavoy was in rebellion, in fact, I believe he was exercising his rights and did not commit any overt act that was treason or terrorism”.

      You’re right. He didn’t. Right up until the moment he armed himself, entered a Wildlife refuge in Oregon filled with people who had absolutely nothing to do with anything his group was “protesting” and forced them to leave using threats of violence. The moment his group started using threats to force innocent people to leave is the moment their “protest” became a act of terrorism IMHO.

  • Linda February 14, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Rainbow,

    The only problem is that no one was there and no one was forced to leave, and in fact folks were invited to come and visit and check on the condition of the site, including first nations representatives.

    No one, absolutely no one, was restricted access. People, for and against, came and went at will during the entire time.

    No employees where there simply because this time of the year, there are no regular visitors and the staff doesn’t man a deserted tourist sight over winter….it was essentially closed for the season.

    Nevertheless, no one at any time was forced to leave or denied access.

    I also find it ironic that the FBI is now bragging about their strategic patience. As seen on this NPR site.
    http://www.npr.org/2016/02/12/466512321/during-wildlife-refuge-occupation-fbi-exercised-strategic-patience

    If the had of been even more patient, perhaps Lavoy would be alive and no one would have blood on their hands. This killing was unnecessary. To accept it it not matter what the reasoning is wrong.

    If this taking of the refuge is an act of terrorism, then the definition of terrorism will allow the state to kill whomever they choose, whenever they protest, even if we do not like their methods or their cause.

    Think occupy anything. The solution will be charge, guns ablazing, and let god sort out the dead.

    Check your facts…

    • Rainbow Dash February 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      They waited almost a month. They called, visited, negotiated, pleaded, offered and tried to compromise. Nothing worked. So they took action. They were tired of taking and getting NOWHERE with Vanilla ISIS. LaVoy stated in a interview with MSNBC “…I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box” when asked what he would do if the FBI came to arrest him. He said this while sitting on his blue tarp, holding a rifle in his lap. it’s clear to me from the video released by the FBI and LaVoys own statements that he intended to die that day, that even if he was not carrying a gun (he was) that he wanted the cops to believe he was and that he wanted them to kill him so he could could become some kind of martyr.

  • Mark April 23, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Most of the comments left here were clearly made by people who work for the Government.. Most of them contribute nothing useful to society .. They are like Ticks , Mosquito, Parasites, blood suckers ect..
    The Government produces money like a Tick Produces blood.

    These people lie and spread Propaganda just like they did in NAZI Germany , Communist China, North Korea Russia, ect..

    It’s all about Agenda 21 . They asked LaVoy what he would do if they came to arrest him. He said “You just don’t point Guns at People..” The Protesters were trying to create a Lawsuit not a War.. The Government brought in a small Army to Burns OR which is 30 miles from the Refuge.. The Hammond’s are still wrongfully Imprisoned for setting a back fire that saved their Ranch ..
    People need to get involved in Local Politics and beat out crooks like Steven Grasty in Harney County OR.. Because of LaVoy’s Strong Religious values he would never murder anyone .. he would only shoot back if shot at first .. Then the Day of his Murder he was surrounded by a small Army of Militarily Armed Men they were shot at his truck the first time he stopped.. He told the undercover Mercenaries that he would meet with them at the Grant County Sheriffs Office.. Yes he knew they had a Constitutional Sheriff in Grant County ..
    In Interviews with Law Enforcement regarding LaVoy’s Murder at least one Officer even said he had to prevent the Ranchers from reaching Grant County because they had a Constitutional Sheriff over there..

    Just like Hitler always said .. If you make the Lie Big enough and you tell it often enough the Sheeple will start to believe it ..

    After an FBI HRT Member shot twice at LaVoy as he exited his Truck with his hands high in the air .. “That was attempted Murder and LaVoy had a Legal right to shoot back.. The thing is he was outnumbered and surrounded in a Ambush situation… They had Snipers in the Woods and HRT Members you know the Guys who murdered two people at Ruby Ridge and 57 or more women children men & Dogs in Waco TX.. Murdered over 300 mostly women and Children at Wounded knee they had turned their guns in and surrendered peacefully .. The USA Army surrounded a tent village and opened fire with two Gattling guns .. they women and children who were still not dead they finished off with their Swords..

    Out Federal Government has been run by very corrupt people for the last 16 years “Patriot Act Bush ect” Deep State wants their village Petrol dollar Wars.
    There is some evidence that the order to ambush LaVoy and his friends may have came from Loretta Lynch .. Certainly Ron Wyden and OR Govoner Kate Brown was in on it .. The BLM operates like a bunch of Brown Shirts.. The BLM requested to purchase 400 fully automatic Rifles but Rand Paul shot that request down .. The Federal Land should have been turned over to the States when they became States.. Read the Constitution ..!
    The Federal Government is selling the American Citizens Resources Minerals Gold , Uranium, Oil Coal & Gas to the Chinese , Australian , Russians ect..
    LaVoy Finicum was a great educator and a Great Speaker and that why the Corrupt Obama Administration wanted him dead.. He was “Spreading the Virus” When Ron Wyden said that LaVoy was spreading the virus he meant that LaVoy was teaching people about their Individual rights and their Property rights Guaranteed by the Constitution .. Educated people don’t believe the Propoganda on CNN or the one that Government Employees make in news paper comment sections .. The Brown Shirt Communist SS .. CIA FBI KGB Propaganda does not work on intelligent people that know what the Constitution stands for .. People are waking up to the overreach and corruption of the Governments that are sucking the Blood out of Americans like the Ticks they are..

  • Mark April 23, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Furthermore the Protesters were at the Refuge for almost a month because the Government could not figure out anything to charge them with .. The day that laVoy Finicum was executed in an illeagal Ambush .. there had not even been an Arrest Warren issued as the Government could not think of anything big to charge them with ..
    Conspiracy is always the fall back on charge when no real crime was committed..

    The Day after LaVoy was Executed the FBI got a retired Judge to make up some Chicken Shit warrants.. and most of the people charged were acquitted.. of all charges ..

    Furthermore the Government has spent over $100 Million dollars to make an example out of a Rancher who owed something like $14,000 in Grazing fees on Land that is owned by the State of NV not the Federal Government ..

    If this Land is so precious .. to the Public why does nobody complain when Harry Reid keeps buying Public Land then re-sells it to Chinese and too housing Developers for 10 times more than he paid for it ..?
    Harry Reid used his Power as a Government Employee to steal Public Land and re-sell it for his Personal Profits..

    Will Lehman is simply camping in front of a BLM office to remind people that LaVoy Finicum was wrongfully assassinated buy a corrupt and rouge Government ..
    Antifa and Black Lives Matter Riot and Burn down cities turn over and Burn Police Cars and Obama says they have a right to Protest .. and he sympathizes with them .. These people are paid by left wing Communist Organizations funded by Soros and Clinton’s friends..

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