Oregon standoff ending exactly how it shouldn't have

The Oregon standoff may soon be ending after multiple people arrests and one death. There are still four people holding up inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and at least two of them aren’t interested in going out alive. They told NPR they’re still talking to the FBI, but it’s not going well.

“The option is you go out there and they get you and it’s a felony crime and it’s a prison sentence,” [ David ] Fry told Think Out Loud host Dave Miller. “A lot of us are scared of that option.”…

“We’re not planning on using any guns. Like I said, we [want] to go home,” he said. “But if they want to attack us then we got to defend ourselves.”

Fry said if the FBI tried to arrest him, he would see it as an attack. 

“If they come in to arrest then they’re going to throw us behind bars where weird shit would happen,” Fry said. 

Fry said the FBI has specifically said they would only arrest occupier Sean Anderson if the remaining people inside surrendered. Fry said he viewed that as unacceptable.

Both Fry and militant Sandy Anderson said they would rather die by some means than go to prison.

“I feel that, instead of killing people, it’s better to somehow die,” Fry said.

“I don’t really want to kill people,” he told Dave Miller. “But I don’t want to be put in prison. And if I have to make it to where I have to die somehow, I’ll do that. But you don’t know if I’m gonna pull that trigger, you know?”

It’s possible Fry and Sandy Anderson are just being braggadocios, in hopes of getting all charges dropped, but desperate people do weird things. Anderson’s husband is wanted on a bench warrant in Wisconsin, but his worst crimes appear to be criminal trespassing and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Federal authorities aren’t telling the media why Sean Anderson is wanted on a felony, and it’s completely possible the charge is pretty serious. But it’s not worth dying over. Sean Anderson should be willing to surrender, if it’s able to keep the three others inside the refuge alive. One death is enough.

I have a ton of respect for police officers, and believe there are plenty of good cops who risk their lives daily to keep innocents safe. But something about the Tuesday traffic stop, which ended in Ammon Bundy’s arrest and LaVoy Finicum’s death, bothers me. The FBI has released drone or plane footage of the stop and chase, and claims it absolves law enforcement. It certainly appears that way, to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, from a certain point of view. We don’t know what was said between state police, the FBI, and Finicum before he was killed, and we don’t know why he was reaching for his waistband. It’s easy to sit there and go with the official line of, “oh, he was reaching for his weapon,” but what if he wasn’t going to use it? What if he was planning on dropping the weapon so police would know he wasn’t a threat? I may have done the exact same thing if I were in Finicum’s shoes. This isn’t trying to absolve Finicum because he probably should have simply laid down, and allowed authorities to take him into custody. He’d still be alive if that happened, just like he’d probably still be alive if he hadn’t driven away from the original traffic stop to begin with. There’s no doubt that was a factor in Finicum’s death, especially when FBI footage shows his truck crashing into a snow bank to avoid a blockade.

This should still raise questions about whether or not there are better ways for police to end confrontations with suspects. It’s possible Finicum’s death goes into the same category as Michael Brown’s: a completely justified police killing. But it’s also possible Finicum’s death falls into the same category as Eric Garner’s: a police killing which could have been avoided. There are going to be plenty of people who see Finicium reach towards his waistband and go, “Okay, police had to shoot.” That’s fine, and you might be completely right. The fact is we don’t know, and it would be nice if the FBI would release more footage (especially dashcam, if it exists). That might clear up what happened even further, and absolve law enforcement even more. It’s possible the FBI should consider having agents wear body cameras during tactical operations for even more transparency. There are plenty of police shootings which don’t appear justified, but video proves they are. There are also plenty of shootings which do appear justified, but video proves otherwise. This could be another one of those cases, especially if dashcam and body cameras were used. But it’s more likely we’ll never get the full answer.

As for the four remaining in the wildlife refuge, it’s time to give up. There’s no point in more deaths, especially since they’d be avoidable.

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Jazz Shaw 9:21 AM on June 09, 2023