Attorneys, ranchers and members of the Finicum family called for political activism in the wake of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation and the death of LaVoy Finicum last year.
Jeanette Finicum — the widow of the refuge occupier who was killed during a traffic stop en route to a meeting in John Day in the final days of the Malheur occupation — spoke to the crowd and thanked God and all those who supported her and her family since her husband’s death.
“They silenced one man’s voice, but in doing so, they created 13 more very loud voices,” Finicum said.
She read a statement prepared by the family’s lawyers announcing they filed a notice of administrative claim as a precursor to filing a federal civil rights lawsuit.
“While we could have filed our wrongful death lawsuit against the state of Oregon, it is more efficient to wait a short while longer to include the FBI in one lawsuit,” she said.
She recounted the jury’s acquittal of seven of the occupants on federal conspiracy charges to thunderous applause, adding her husband should have been among them.
“Our family is truly grateful that some of them have been able to return home to their families, and we are praying for all those who are still incarcerated, unjustly, for their immediate release,” she said. “We hope for the same outcome for the next seven that are still on trial and for those in Nevada.”
Finicum played several videos made by her husband before and during the occupation, which explained he supported the occupation because he believed the federal government was overreaching and overly-regulating farmers and ranchers.
She urged those in attendance to become involved however they can in their local communities.
“One man can make a difference,” she said. “He did make a difference.”
A crowd of more than 500 gathered Saturday night at the Grant County Fairgrounds for what was billed as “The meeting that never happened.”
Unlike the Jan. 26, 2016, event LaVoy Finicum, Ammon and Ryan Bundy and other occupation leaders were en route to when stopped by police, no picketers were lined up outside. No one trying to attend was harassed at the door. The atmosphere was calm, orderly and peaceful.
The crowd at the 2017 meeting was a mix of veterans, former law enforcement, ranchers and residents from across the country who came to hear speakers on the Constitution, media and LaVoy Finicum’s beliefs.
Burns resident Hunter Davis said he attended the meeting to learn about the Constitution and the rights it granted him.
“The government doesn’t want you to know about the rights you have and what powers you have and how much control you actually have over them,” he said.
Grant County resident and event organizer Jim Sproul said 470 tickets were sold before the event and another 218 at the door, at $15 each. He estimated there were 650 in attendance, including 250-300 locals.
“It was a fantastic event,” he said. “We didn’t have any problems whatsoever. It was well handled, well attended, and I thought those folks did a really good job of putting their point across.”
Speakers presented information on a variety of topics related to the role of government.
Former Fox News radio show host and investigative reporter Kate Dalley said the “mainstream media” lies and is heavily influenced and infiltrated by the federal government. The federal government is overreaching and using the media to “keep the masses asleep,” she said.
“They are crafting the mainstream media to turn patriots into terrorists. They seek to discredit anyone who stands up for their property rights. They will turn the nation against you. They will imprison you. They will kill you,” Dalley said. “Why? Because the government has to control the land to control the people.”
She applauded the Bundys and the Malheur occupiers. Dalley praised the occupation and said the refuge occupiers were peaceful.
“If you want to fear someone, if you want to fear a movement, fear those seeking to undermine your rights that reside in the highest positions of power in this country, fear those that conspire to keep the masses asleep, fear those that seek to imprison patriot-loving Americans.”
Author Bill Norton and his 15-year-old daughter, Laine Norton, spoke on the importance of property rights. Bill Norton said the reason personal property is so important is that it is purchased with an individual’s life and liberty.
“We are not anti-government,” he said. “We love government. We love very clearly defined boundaries, very clearly limited government with separation of powers. ... It’s others who are trying to break those boundaries down that are truly the anti-government folks.”
Attorney Garret Smith spoke on the role of a constitutional sheriff and claimed, if one had been involved in the events last year, the outcome could have been drastically different. He asserted the sheriff’s job is to represent the people who elected him and stop federal overreach.
Federal and state agencies had become outlaws, Smith said, and it fell to constitutional sheriffs with the support of the people to keep them in check.
He warned of the government indoctrinating students and advocated for those in attendance to remember what they learned during the meeting and to study documents such as the Constitution themselves.
“We need a revolution,” he said. “Not a revolution of arms, a revolution of thought, a revolution of morality, a revolution of community standing up and supporting each other.”