A rally in support of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the Oregon occupier fatally shot by Oregon State Police on Jan. 26, drew about 100 people to Olympia’s Capitol Campus on Saturday afternoon.
Many in attendance carried American flags, balloons and signs reading, “We the people demand justice.” Musicians played taps and Amazing Graze. The group sang a version of “The Hanging Tree,” from the Hunger Games movies, modified with lyrics about Finicum.
One woman, Kathy Talbot of Yelm, brought her horse and rode laps around the parking lot in front of the Capitol steps.
Maria Bosworth of Yakima said the rally was a call to Washingtonians to fight for freedom in Finicum’s memory.
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“LaVoy understood that freedom is never more than a generation from extinction,” Bosworth said. “We’re here to finish what he started.”
Many of the Finicum supporters at the Capitol had traveled from Central and Eastern Washington — from the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and Wenatchee. Others were a little closer to home.
Jimi O’Hagen, a cranberry farmer and Grayland resident, spent about 10 days at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with the other occupiers. He said that he saw reports of the occupation in the news and has worked on similar issues in Washington state.
He said he talked to several ranchers who were concerned about grazing rights and being put out of business by the federal government.
“It’s the small farmers and ranchers who are the most economically vulnerable,” O’Hagen said.
O’Hagen said he’s also disappointed that officials resorted to violence — he had hoped the occupation would have ended with a grand jury investigation of land management practices.
“I thought they should have resolved the whole thing in a civil manner,” O’Hagen said. “They shouldn’t have resorted to violence.”
Jon Ladines of Richland said he didn’t know Finicum, but his brother spent time at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. He explained that in addition to Saturday’s event being a memorial for Finicum, it was a way to educate the public about the purpose of the occupation.
“A lot of people think that this was a militia movement, but it wasn’t,” Ladines said. “This was a bunch of farmers and ranchers standing up for their rights.”
At the rally, Finicum was described as a patriot, someone who stood up for the rights and liberties of Americans.
Bosworth said that if more people had stood up for their liberties, if more people had attended the occupation, Finicum might still be alive.
“Things could have been a lot different if we had shown up,” Bosworth said. “We’ll have to remember that next time.”