My husband, LaVoy Finicum, dreamed of having his own cattle ranch since he was a little boy. He was a cowboy through and through and wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
This became a reality for him and our family in 2008.
It was not too long after his ranch was in operation that he began to feel a metaphoric squeeze from unelected agents who enforce bureaucratic policy. He asked himself how someone who was not voted for had the authority to write law and enforce it at gunpoint. Had not the early Americans already faced this issue years ago; taxation without representation?
Things were not adding up. After much study it became clear how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was one interposing overlord of many in today's governmental system. All such bureaucracies violate the original intent of the constitution, which he firmly believed to be inspired by God. He met other ranchers who were also experiencing the same metaphoric squeeze from bureaucracies. The more he studied our constitution the more clear this corruption became and he no longer in good conscience could be idle.
His first public stand was with the Bundy family as the BLM and FBI were trying to seize their cattle and take over their property in 2014.
He then took an honest look within and asked himself where it was he stood; was it on freedom’s side? At such point he courageously canceled his contracts with the BLM, thanking them for their service and informed them he no longer needed their help in managing his ranch.
Unfortunately many misunderstand the relationship a rancher has with the BLM. The BLM is not the owner of the property. What is known as grazing fees is not rent, but a fee for survaying the land and range improvements. Such confusion is the seed for much division among citizenry. To explain in the simplest terms, we bought our property from the previous owners who had purchased it from the original settlers, not the BLM. The land is a split estate meaning it serves many purposes to allow the hunter, fisher, cattle rancher, miner, logger, and hiker to all enjoy the beauty and resources the land offers simultaneously. The grass that grows on that patch of land is ours; we bought it. The water associated with that ranch is ours; we bought it. We do not pay rent to use our property rights. It is ours. We intend to have continual beneficial use of our property while others also enjoy the split estate feature the settlement offers American citizens.
After he heard about the oppression the Hammond family from Harney county, OR was suffering at the hands of these unconstitutional bureaucratic agents, he had had enough. He understood if out of control agents could do what they had done to the Hammond and Bundy families that it would happen to him. It was only a matter of time. He decided to attend a peaceful protest and lay flowers on their doorstep before they were taken to prison for a second time for the same trumped up charge.
Once in Oregon he was approached with the idea of doing a prolonged protest at the Malheur Wildlife Bird Refuge. The hope was to peaceably assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances and in so doing bring massive attention to the oppression American citizens in that area had been suffering for far too long. The sole purpose of the petition for a redress of grievances was to get the ball moving in the right direction with the appropriate stakeholders for positive change.
During this prolonged peaceful protest the cowboys were often approached by local citizens, ranchers, and others wanting to learn more. On January 26, 2016 LaVoy, along with a group of others, were headed to the neighboring county where they were invited to teach a large group of people more about the constitution and how these illegal government entities were slowly, and with stealth, taking our American liberties. It was on this trip that my husband was met by hostile militarized personnel, shot at without cause or reason, where he was driven into a snowy ditch to avoid an illegal roadblock (killstop) that was waiting for him. He got out of the truck with both hands in the air and was shot three times in the back resulting in his death.
My family’s journey since that dreadful snowy day has felt long and has been hard. We have and are still grieving and will be for a very long time. We miss LaVoy and wish he could be home with us again. Filing for a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring LaVoy home but its process will uniquely contribute to the delicate journey of closure for each loved one of LaVoy.
We have gone through several lawyers before filing the complaint for our wrongful death lawsuit. The slow process has been anything but easy. It took nearly two years, I've interviewed over 30 different lawfirms, had working relationships with four legal teams, and countered back and forth with contracts before the dotted line was signed. We feel very fortunate to have the powerful legal team we now have. We know God's hand has been leading this journey of uncertainty. In redlining our contracts we understand our case is not solely contingency based. We must pay them a large sum as this process continues (that almost all the lawfirms interviewed required) which is why we have been trying to raise money for our legal fund through fundraising. We feel it is worth every penny for the cause. This legal team's expertise is precedented. No other legal team could be as apprised to this case's vital details, which their prior recent victories have earned them (Oregon and Nevada).
Our only motivation to continue this long, hard, and expensive journey is to preserve the American dream by ensuring that out of control agents who are delegated sacred controls within our governmental system are held accountable. Out of control agents must not become the norm in this nation.
The outcome of our case will have a powerful butterfly effect upon this nation. If we do not insist upon this accountability, this type of conduct will continue to take precedence and persist in destroying the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of many more Americans.
It is not American to deny citizens the right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and due process.
We are Americans!
We work for liberty, for where the spirit of liberty is, there will be God’s also.
As stated before, I declare and pledge my allegiance and responsibility to support, keep, and maintain a pro-responsible government within The United States of America.
May God bless our effort and God bless this great land we call America!
Jeanette Finicum (wife), Brittney Beck (daughter), and Thara Tenney (daughter)