Killing of an Oregon Wildlife Refuge Occupier Has Re-energized Protesters

By Published on January 30, 2016

BURNS, Ore. — BJ Soper has never supported the nearly month-long occupation of a national wildlife refuge by armed anti-government activists. He sympathized with their frustrations about the federal government, but he thought calm negotiation was a better strategy.

Then on Tuesday, an Oregon state trooper shot and killed LaVoy Finicum, a cowboy-hat-wearing grandfather who acted as the occupiers’ spokesman.

Now Soper is furious, and he’s calling for people from all over the country to come to Burns to show their outrage at Finicum’s “ambush.”

“I’m angry,” Soper, 39, said late Friday, joining two dozen protesters in a light sleet outside the Harney County Courthouse. “We’ve got a man that’s dead. Over what? I don’t want to see any more bloodshed, and that’s not what I’m condoning. But at some point when American people keep getting killed by their government, people are going to fight back.”

Finicum’s killing has re-energized anti-government activists, even as the occupation at the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge seemed to be running out of steam. Only four occupiers remained holed up at the refuge, while 11 others have been arrested. Their jailed leader, Ammon Bundy, who was arrested in the same operation in which Finicum was killed, has called for the three men and one woman still at the refuge to go home peacefully.


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No Longer Orphans
Alisa Keeton
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