The Socialist Workers Party condemns the Jan. 26 killing of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum by Oregon State Police and the FBI in what can only be described as an assassination. We demand that the cops involved be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Finicum was one of the ranchers and others occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, over the last month. He, occupation leader Ammon Bundy and a few others were on their way to a community meeting in John Day. The FBI claims that following a “traffic stop” Finicum fled and was reaching for a gun. Cops and government police agencies often use this charge to justify cold-blooded killings, including “finding” a weapon when the victim doesn’t have one.
This was no traffic stop, it was a premeditated assault. The FBI and state police closed off more than 50 miles of highway, set up roadblocks, and deployed snipers and a surveillance plane. After shooting Finicum, the cops shot up his vehicle, with three passengers still inside, including with flash grenades and pepper spray. They ignored Finicum’s need for medical attention for at least 10 minutes as he lay dying in the snow.
This echoes the callous disregard for cattle rancher Jack Yantis Nov. 1 when sheriff’s deputies in Adams County, Idaho, refused him medical aid when they shot him after calling him to come put down one of his bulls when it was hit by a car. They handcuffed Yantis’ wife and nephew to prevent them from coming to his aid as he lay bleeding on the ground.
Protests have demanded the cops be charged in both killings. At recent actions in Oregon participants chanted, “Ranchers lives matter” and “All lives matter.” This shows the widespread impact of the explosive fight against police killings of Blacks and others, including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mario Martinez, Zachary Hammond, which has forced the rulers to place some restraints on their cops.
In the wake of the killing of Finicum, ranchers and working people in Harney County, Oregon, are redoubling their efforts to fight for freedom for Dwight and Steven Hammond, two local cattle ranchers framed up and imprisoned twice on the same arson charges, for controlled burns to protect their ranch from invasive plants and wildfires, a common practice in the region. After serving their original sentences in full, the government used the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act to send them back to jail for more time.
Washington and cops at every level across the country are the greatest perpetrators of terror — from Waco, Texas, to the deadly assault on MOVE in Philadelphia, to Vietnam, Iraq and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We urge the labor movement and all those who have been fighting for justice for working people killed by the cops to join in demanding, “Free the Hammonds! Jail the cops who killed Robert Finicum!”
FBI, state troopers kill Oregon occupier
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