Protest over sentence for controlled burn prevents controlled burn

The term “irony” is overused and misused, but this just might be the definition of irony.

Buildings on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were occupied for more than a month by people protesting the mandatory five-year sentence handed to father and son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond for letting controlled burns spread from their private property and burn 140 acres of federal public land.

A score of people are in jail on federal charges for occupying the buildings and one was shot to death by authorities when he tried to drive around a roadblock.

Now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that one consequence of the occupation was that it prevented land managers from carrying out a 4,000-acre controlled burn needed to remove invasive plants and brush that fuel wildfires. It was postponed due to the occupation.

Since migrating birds are now returning to the refuge, the controlled burn will be put off for a year — unless, of course, there is a wildfire.

Protester rides across Oregon refuge near Burns, Ore. (Getty Images via LA Times)





13 comments on “Protest over sentence for controlled burn prevents controlled burn

  1. Nyp says:

    “Drive around” a roadblock

  2. Attempted to drive around a roadblock and swerved into a snow bank in order not to hit a dumba$$ federal agent or contractor who had jumped down into the path of his truck. We were also told that he “charged” at authorities and so he was shot. It’s kind of hard to walk…let alone charge anyone or anything while trudging through thirty plus inches of snow.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Another “drive around a roadblock”.

  4. Rincon says:

    The tape is clear. There was an effective roadblock. He tried to drive around by going off the road into the snow. It is true that the course of the car curved away from an agent, so it’s likely that the suspect swerved in order to avoid him. Although he didn’t charge anyone, he reached towards and into his jacket repeatedly in a sudden manner, not in the way that someone with a gun pointed at him would slowly reach for say, a wallet. What possible reason did he have for reaching suddenly into his pocket at that time if not for a gun? He either had a gun or he was trying to do a Gran Torino move so he could become a martyr. A third possibility is that he was incredibly stupid and made a sudden move for his cell phone while guns were pointed at him. Regardless, if I was there, I would have shot him too.

  5. Steve says:

    Balancing in the snow requires one to move ones arms…..I lived through the blizzard of 78 in the northeast.
    It was relatively clear to me what he was doing while slogging around in the snow.
    Wonder if the trucks brakes were checked….maybe he needed to use the snowbank to stop.

  6. Rincon says:

    Are we watching the same video? If the helicopter could see him, he could see the roadblock from a good distance. His car showed no sign of slowing down or loss of control other than aiming for the side of the road. Just after he goes into the ditch, another car is shown coming to an easily controlled stop. Bad brakes? How much of a coincidence would that be? Let his lawyer see to it that the brakes are checked. Talk about grasping at straws!

    We’ve both walked through deep snow. He waved his arms in a coordinated manner in the beginning, as is needed to walk through deep snow until suddenly, he comes to a stop (you can stop flapping your arms when you stop moving in snow), turns greater than 90 degrees from his initial path, facing his left pocket away from both officers, reaches across his body with his right hand to the area of the coat pocket that he had just hidden from the view. Why would anybody be stupid enough to make a move like that with guns trained on him?

    Too bad we don’t have the audio. Unless the officers really wanted to plug this “innocent” man and face possible manslaughter charges and a mountain of paperwork and questioning, is it just possible that they were shouting at him telling him to keep his hands in plain sight? Only a bleeding heart Liberal would assume the cops did otherwise.

    But you’re very convincing, Steve. I guess there’s a fourth explanation other than evil intent: He might be the most uncoordinated man ever filmed in the snow. And a fifth. Maybe Finicum was having a seizure. Better check his medical records too. This is not a wild west movie where the hero can let the bad guy draw first and then shoot the gun out of his hand. It was way too risky for the officers to do anything but fire.

  7. Good point Steve. And as I stated previously…without audio it’s impossible to detect from the video when the first shot was fired by the authorities and that reaching to his chest under his coat could have been an indication that he was already hit by gunfire and was clutching there which would have been a natural reaction. Rincon you may be correct…or I may be correct, without additional footage with sound…it’s conjecture at best on both of our assertions. I would not have shot him. When you have snipers with rifles and a number of officers with handguns trained on him as he stumbled around in the snow…until he actually presented an imminent threat to their safety, their actions were premature IMHO.

  8. Steve says:

    Have you ever walked through deep snow while a target of several hostile, gun toting, edgy, trigger happy L.E.’s? I haven’t….and it was still hard to keep balance in the white crap.

    OF course we saw the same vid, it’s just we are using different filters while viewing it.

    Objectivity is lacking in this discussion. I see no reason to try and introduce it, since the other side would only run with it.

  9. Rincon says:

    I had not considered your point, HFB. It made me go back and look again. I found a clip with a 500% zoom and 15% speed and another that showed Finicum stopped for 3 minutes a quarter mile or so down the road with police directly behind the car. Finicum refused to come out of his car and accelerated away from police. He had plenty of time to stop for the roadblock and did not appear to slow down in any significant way. It’s possible that he was fixated on his rear view mirror and so, was negligent in his attention to the road in front of him. His brake lights did go on for a short distance before the roadblock, but it is impossible to tell if he was trying to stop or merely slowing so that he would have adequate control when he hit the roadblock.

    The slowed down version shows little room for doubt. He reached around his body twice, the first time partially and hesitantly and the second, quickly and in a controlled manner. It is obvious that he wasn’t flailing his arms in an effort to keep his balance. He didn’t turn 90 degrees. He turned 180 degrees. Hard to explain this odd motion. Maybe he was reaching for his cell phone because he wanted to call his lawyer or maybe order a pizza? He does not seem aware of the officer behind him, who was given the best view of Finicum’s left side, where they claim he had the gun. It’s quite possible that Finicum was shot only after that officer could see him withdrawing a gun from his pocket.. Although we can’t be sure that he decided to go down with guns blazing, it would be ridiculous to call this film convincing evidence of police malfeasance.

  10. Still no audio…blurry film. We don’t know when the first shot was fired, we don’t know what commands were being screamed at him (conflicting commands?), he looks confused. I was also disturbed about what was being fired at the occupants still in the truck…after the officers kicked the body to make sure he was down for good…from the unedited complete version of the video.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree. We don’t know. So why do you presume guilt on the part of these officers?.

  12. […] the occupation prevented a planned controlled burn of 4,000 acres to remove invasive plants and brush that fuel […]

  13. […] Sympathizers, however, occupied vacant buildings on a wildlife refuge for 41 days to call attention to the ranchers’ plight and are now also in jail for doing so. Ironically, because of the occupation, the feds had to call off a planned 4,000-acre controlled burn. […]

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