OPINION – On the second anniversary of LaVoy Finicum’s death, I had the privilege of spending some time with his widow, Jeanette Finicum.
We spoke about our favorite memories of LaVoy and discussed the wrongful death lawsuit that Jeanette has filed against those who may bear direct or indirect responsibility in his killing. I was struck by a number of realizations as we visited.
First, and most importantly, the driving forces behind this lawsuit are justice and accountability for the various agencies and individuals who played a role in LaVoy Finicum’s death. The entire Finicum family has been on the receiving end of a monstrous injustice.
Rather than railing about vengeance or calling for blood, the Finicum family has consistently taken the high road over the past two years.
When they seek justice for LaVoy Finicum, the family is seeking the kind of accountability that would discourage the sort of hubristic, lawless dishonesty and violence that has been directed at their family from happening to others.
The Finicums have borne the indignities of false accusations, taunting and abuse from individuals who live to make others as miserable as they are.
One of the greatest moral downfalls of our current society is a near universal abandonment of the ability to show empathy for others — whether we agree with them or not. This is the reason that some people choose to cheer, jeer and celebrate when others are suffering.
Curiously, when we see this kind of contempt play out in other cultures that openly celebrate the deaths or maiming of Americans harmed in violent attacks, it sends us into a spittle-flinging frenzy. Still, we lack the self-awareness to recognize the irony of our chosen double standard.
One possible reason for this disconnect is that the government and media narrative of what actually happened in Oregon two years ago, is ridiculously incomplete. To get a sense of how the omission of critical details can distort and mislead the public, please examine the wrongful death complaint filed by Finicum’s attorneys.
Read the complaint here: 20180125 Finicum v USA et al. Complaint
It’s worth the time it takes to read all 48 pages of the complaint just to get a sense of the dishonest lengths that people in power will go to in order to maintain their sense of control over others.
One of the most damning bits of information regarding the indefensible decision by authorities to set up the ambush in which LaVoy Finicum was killed is found on page 33 of the complaint.
It points out that at the time of the so-called “traffic stop”:
(T)here was still no arrest warrant, sworn affidavit or probable cause statement, criminal complaint or indictment against LaVoy Finicum, or any of the passengers in these vehicles.
Members of both the FBI and Oregon State Police testified in the 2016 trial that resulted in the acquittal of Ammon Bundy and six other defendants that they could not have identified specific legal reasons for the stop.
In other words, the portrayal of the events in Oregon as a “standoff” or “terrorist event” was nothing more than legal fiction created by people in authority who allowed themselves to be led astray by artificial rules. It was those same authorities who set in motion a deadly trap in which there was absolutely no margin for error.
Had these authorities not unnecessarily escalated the situation, it’s a near certainty that LaVoy Finicum would have been acquitted along with Ammon and Ryan Bundy in Oregon.
Few of the people who still rail against that acquittal have ever stepped outside the boundaries of the official narrative to consider the facts that the jury was able to consider before rendering its decision to acquit. Their lust for revenge continues to outpace their love of justice and blinds them to the authentic wrongs done by individuals in authority.
This is why, following the dismissal of charges against the Bundys earlier this month in Las Vegas, many people still tend to hyper-focus on what they think the Bundys got away with rather than the proven wrongdoing in which our government was caught.
It’s very telling that the folks who are most vocal about their hatred of both the Finicums and the Bundys are those whose views have been entirely dependent upon the official narrative. Most of them haven’t spent time in the courtroom or examined any of the legal documentation for themselves to understand what they are missing.
Curiously, even when they’re confronted with facts that provide greater context or broader perspective of the situation, they’ll cling to their narrative as if super glued to it.
They’d rather be wrong with the crowd than risk having to assimilate new truth into their thinking.
Whether or not a degree of justice for the Finicum family is realized in federal court, we’d be wise to remember that an inescapable Universal accountability awaits each of us eventually.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
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