Episode 3: The Martyr
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Keep that in mind when choosing one and where to listen I've seen lavoix finchem die and die and die I can log onto youtube right now and watch finicky when it comes in spliced and paused and dissected by people who never knew him seconds later he dropped to the ground as the topsy shows from the corner. He was shot three times. Want those people to have again and again watched his pickup crash. The driver's door fly open Vinnicombe hops out as a yells to the police. You're going to have to shoot me. Then three bullets bang back dead kill back it up play to get his words sound like a nervous mantra started again. They come across like an unfinished sentence. Are they start start to threat promise. I always think I'll hear some new intonation some missed revelation but finicky. I'm always dies the same three POPs. It doesn't jump or Yelp just crumples body alive one second have you sack of bones dropped to the ground for eternity the next puppet without a hand gravity. That's stronger than spirit death on repeat. It's Finnigan is known own for and maybe it's because his public facing life was a blip twenty one months out of fifty four years from the time finicky marrived alone at Bundy ranch twenty fourteen to the time he died the leader of the Malheur Occupation Twenty sixteen only about six hundred fifty days past. He was a martyr for the Patriot movement made at the speed of the Internet from long reads an Oregon public broadcasting. This is Bundy Ville. I'm Leah Silly. Bobbio then gets on the stand and he admits he was on a puddle outside street in Salem Oregon's capital city site an old v._f._w.. Hall there's no place you can stand not see the American flag or feel the nostalgic brand of Stars and Stripes Patriotism Assembled here and on the breast every person who's paid fifty dollars to be here is around pin it reads justice for Lavoix set on a border of American flag ribbon people have gathered here to remember incomes death as the program begins some hundred people in the aged crowd push themselves up from folding chairs the best they can curly-haired cowboy in tight jeans begins to leave the room and song. How's the room turns its collective body toward another flag one with yellow fringe they sing low and soft with the cowboy? That's why when it's time for the Crescendo Sing right along as the day unfolds it will become evident that this is in way kind of church is an American religion with its own symbols its own prayers moral teachings deadly sins and now it's own martyr. The name Robert Lavoix finicky or just lavoix is a hollowed one. This is obviously the third anniversary of death. The man on the stage with Mike is mark her to be here in Oregon on a cold foggy Salem morning he lives in Washington. State has been traveling around the country with Finnigan's widow Ginette they've been showing. Doing this movie that her made it's called dead man talking her says it's a documentary but it's mostly just youtube videos that lavoix uploaded in the months before he went to Oregon still. I don't hear anyone complaining about paying for something that they could watch at home for free genetics here to secure the legacy of little Vinnicombe. Her says he wants that to to secure the voice legacy. He also wants you to pay him to take his civics course after you watch the Finnick Movies Eh he runs a nonprofit called the center for self governance as he keeps talking. It's painfully clear that he wants me by his message to it's called Bunkerville but really Bundy bill right bill. He wants it to be clear that he's not afraid that I'm here or that. I shouldn't be afraid of him. I'm not sure or maybe it's that people should be on their best behavior because the media is here you oppose white supremacy. Would you please stand. You're against white supremacy. You don't agree with white supremacy. Okay if you are pro responsible government. You're pro government. You're pro responsible government. Would you please clap her keeps looking at me and my producer as he talks can't help but wonder how much of this performance is because I'm here if you believe that the federal the boundary between the federal government would does eventually become clear is that this is the part of the day they really want shared with the rest of the world the part they want me to get on tape. Were they explained how people in the Patriot movement aren't extremists at all. The people gathered here marker says they love America and what's wrong with that Lavoix finchem loved America's so much he died for it and shouldn't we all find that inspiring inspiring. It's a truth. This crowd holds to be self evident and voice. Life was pretty obviously more complicated than the simple story critics of the Patriot movement call Avoi- a lot of things things sovereign citizen extremist terrorists Nazi mark her says that the actual facts of his life story are being ignored purposely ignored because it doesn't fit the narrative that he's an extremist based on that. He's a terrorist that he deserved to be killed. The story of lavoix split in these two really extreme directions. He's either seen as everything that's right with America for everything that's wrong with America. So which is hello everyone here would have me believe that Lavoix was a hero for group that wants to correct the record about him. They're awfully stingy with information when it comes time to show the movie about his life that's when the organizers of the event takes the stage wjr reminds us their security everywhere in this room and absolutely no recording of these videos copyright and so I might have to call security. I really don't WanNa do that. We do have security here as she says this to. The crowd huddle of militia members settle in the back and then a man with a handgun on his hip nestled in a leather holster embossed with the words we the people leans against the wall near the only to reporters in this room me producer Ryan has we didn't record the movie about Lavoix Finchem but I'm GONNA be honest. You're not really missing anything. Dan Talking is lavoix. We story told through the eyes of the Patriot movement so it's primarily concerned with his life after he went to the Bundy ranch standoff in two thousand fourteen the movie doesn't answer questions about how Lavoix came to believe what he did and how that belief leave compelled him to die. It's a movie about lavoix as a symbol for government overreach because that's what he's become to the Patriot movement. His life story proves the government's tyranny as a rancher. They pushed him so hard that he had no choice but to fight back when he did. They killed him. At least that's the story that mark her and Jeanette finicky are selling with their youtube video documentary. Fortunately I have better sources okay all right so my name is Guy Finicky so I'm the voice younger brother. So one of the reasons we wanted to come talk to you is we just haven't seen a ton of stuff about who lavoix was before. The world came to know him. I guess so we thought it'd be great for you to just tell us about nobody would have the dirt like a little road. The Guy Lives in for Dona Arizona this tiny town on the border with Utah Lots of films of called home for Generations Josh cluff the guy whose house was blown up in Pennock Nevada used to live here too in fact I found a newspaper clipping from voice baptism and saw relative that the last name cluff actually Baptize Lavoie the L._D._S. temple here. I have to say Guy Finicky looks and sounds. So much like boy he's bald and has the same sharp jaw and wire rim glasses. It's a little jarring at first but that's where their similarities seemed to end real Avoi- aspire to the ranching lifestyle guy became a licensed this mental health counselor a therapist by by profession and so this is this is the world leading work in but I am amazed how people create their own own experiences own reality guy tells me that he in Lavoix in their other siblings grew up in the northwestern is western corner of Arizona on the Navajo reservation. Their Dad had a government job working for the Arizona Department of Transportation as a kid. Lavoix was like any big brother if you could imagine the Batman and joker rolled into one character he was my nemesis when I was a kid home he he loved to tease me he did you know but as soon as we left the home home he was my hero. The boys grew up riding horses camping in the mountains and shooting each other with B._B.. Guns he won be cowboy from the fires but as young as a little boy he didn't have any cattle so that was my job. I was livestock. <hes> gave me a hug titan earmarked more than once guy paints a picture of his older brother as a driven hard working person who dominated every room he was in he was confident. Someone guy looked up to he says lavoix. It was the kind of person that wants. He said his mind to something. You wouldn't give up no matter what not started from an early age he he loved to play basketball. I Remember Waking Up in the summers. We had a old asphalt bad the my dad added oilcake from the highways and Rim my dad put up. I'd wake up in here that I can still hear that basketball bounced and the guy says even though Lavoix was only five seven. He gave everything having to being a basketball player after graduation. He went on his L. D. S. mission in South Dakota. He came home and married his first wife woman named Kelly they moved to a suburb outside Portland Oregon where they managed an apartment building thing had their first couple of children and the whole time voice plan was to walk onto a local college basketball team. He'd play racquetball every day. The guy says reality soon hit the void didn't have the money to pay tuition even if he got a spot on the team so eventually gave up on basketball after regretted that decision because he was never able to get a college degree you know and he says it was the first of many times in his life that I learned about. We're lavoix wanted to make something work doc but couldn't no matter how much he wanted it. Including his marriage to Kelly they had four kids and then they ended up getting a divorce and so nine months after his divorce lavoix got married again to a woman named Rachel they yeah two more kids got a divorce. After two years guy says this part of boys life was full of turmoil and shame this a human being okay he likes aid he'd been through two two failed marriages those deeply distressing matter of fact you know our our religious background our culture you know members of the Church of Latter Day saints we have a high value on marriage marriage and family and and he got a divorce he was first divorced in my grandmother's media family a big family and that was a big deal they him according to his brother La- voice ultimate dream was to come back to Fredonia raise a family he wanted to start a ranch to from his twenties to his forties. lavoix bounced all around the West trying to make enough money to start that dream I found addresses for him. In Portland Albuquerque Santa Fe Las Vegas near Flagstaff and all over Utah Saint George Cedar City Provo but every time he had to get successful at he gets sick of living in the city you try back home the when he did when you come back home he just could never get a foothold so they'd come back here and be dirt poor and struggle and eventually they moved back to the city somewhere away guy tells has the story was willing to do anything to make his ranching dream happened when every move away from home he he he do well financially just couldn't stay away from home and he couldn't make it work very well. On the ranch nine hundred ninety two after a second divorce things started to turn around for Lavoix happened when he went to a singles dance at his church Ginette Finnigan told the crowd about it that day at the V._F._W.. and was back in the day when line. Line dancing was in. I don't know if you guys remember lying dancing. Okay Ninety two and I liked line dancing. There's a lot of fun and I can remember being out on the floor and this gorgeous cowboy walked into the room and I can remember him walking along the side wall and then in front of us and he sat up on the stage and he just sat there watching all of us dance. I WANNA dance with him. They did end up dancing and genetic to keep him dancing but he said he'd only do it. If she answered a question he's I don't have any rhythm and he's GonNa tell you if you can tell me how. Many kids have all dances next dance with you. She guests six. She was right eight long story short two weeks later we were married so it was a very short engagement. Suddenly Lavoix Ginette had this big family they had dreamed about between the two of them. They attend kids. It's eventually became therapeutic foster parents which meant they fostered kids with high emotional and behavioral needs guy says it suited lavoix because of his strong personality he was able to control kids that other foster parents couldn't fostering also gave the family more consistent cash and that was a really key turning point in the voice life finally found the way that he could cash little things to get back home and start building history. The family moved to Kane eighteen beds Arizona. It's about a half hour from for Dona Records from twenty eleven show the Bureau of land management granted Lavoie grazing permit from October to May his allotment was near Tuck Up Canyon deep in the Arizona Arizona Desert near the Grand Canyon. It's important to note that lavoix was running cows exclusively on public land. He didn't have any land of his own and by the time he started ranching lavoix was fifty years years old. He's only been doing it for three years. When in twenty fourteen finicky I'm went to the Bundy ranch standoff over in Bunkerville Nevada and that's the other really key turning point and boys life well I was I was watching what he was doing and he was he was becoming more and more vocal about the progression of what do you call the ever increasing power of you know the government at all levels but the federal government was really concerning concerning to him the next summer lavoix went all in on Cliven Bundy's conspiracy theories about the federal government scheming against ranchers to take over their land and he started fantasizing about what he would do if the feds came after him to you gotTa Stop? It's gotTa Stop Be Lamb here I am you won't pick on somebody. Come pick on me my cows out here. You tell me gotta get him off. I'm not take him off. You know you WANNA WANNA play those antiques with other people harass them destroy their lives. Well here. I am you come pick on me. Come on pick on me and I'm not going anywhere but here's the thing up until twenty fifteen lavoix was in good standing with the bill he always paid his bills on time but after meeting cliven Bundy void kind of went from Batman to joker he became obsessed with the end of the world and started getting into political activism in two thousand fifteen he wrote a novel. It's called only by blood and suffering and spoiler alert. It's about a cowboy who dies in a shootout with federal agents. After America collapses. He also decided that year that he needed to make a stand against the bill and it's on this point the Guy Finicky says a lot of people get the story wrong. A lot of people say you know avoid okay was being mistreated by the O._M.. And therefore you know he was a rebellion against them because of their mystery and he would tell you know that's not the case <hes> they treated him quite well. The problem he had was he saw a pattern of picking and choosing who they treated well to they didn't treat well if they wanted to ranch or some other purpose they'd bring all all kinds of heavy handed tactics on you and push you off in June. Twenty fifteen lavoix wrote a letter to the bill and I got a copy of it it says quote. I'm writing you this letter to express my appreciation for the time we've associated together in connection with my grazing on the Arizona Strip has been pleasant association and without conflict but he tells them he's gotTa take a stand quote. This is not about cows and grass US access resources. This is about freedom and defending our constitution in its original intent. Even the beal was confused phone records show. They called him to try to understand what the heck this stand. Dan was all about and they kept finding Vinnicombe. Cattle out in the sweltering desert outside of the permitted grazing season lavoix responded that ranchers and other states were standing up against the government and he was going to stand with them by the end of August Twenty fifteen lavoix severed ties with the beale completely and court documents show the by September he was meeting with Bill Keebler about making a stand on his ranch in case the feds came in so that's four months from being in good standing with the bill to planning to take a stand against them at his ranch. You know so with family were quite concerned when he started drawing the line in San with the bill because I'm like the Avoi- I know you don't like bullies but you're picking a fight with the federal government. They don't lose. They don't lose look how many people you know they've got unlimited amounts of money and technology and power and everything he's like well the wrong void made up his mind and by January twenty sixteen he was all the way up in Oregon at the Mao year occupation guy was worried knowing what's going on just getting media reports. I thought things you're kind of crazy and I thought what in the world when my brother doing I want to talk sense until modestly over the years him the void discuss politics and they didn't always see eye to eye but when he went to Malheur all year he saw that La Voie was exactly where he wanted to be and I left saying no to my brother. Stay the course stick to what you what you know you're doing in a way it was like everything guy I understood about. Lavoie was clear for the very first time he'd spent so long trying and failing to become a rancher and then almost as soon as he'd done it we'd gone to Bunkerville and saw new model what it means to be a cowboy. It wasn't just running your cattle. Putting meals on the table was actively fighting to preserve a way of life carrying guns standing up to the government plotting standoffs it meant becoming cliven bundy whose motto auto had been whatever it takes cliven wasn't that Malheur so lavoix could step into that role. Maybe take it a step further. People may say you can't know things like this but I knew when I said Goodbye Oregon he he was gonna Die After. Don't ask me how I know. I was just standing. There also hit me. He was GonNa die there yeah so when I said goodbye team I really thought it would be the last I saw you had family after after day of his kids told them they all need to get love what was says. It didn't know what direction this was. He knew that there were a bunch of militia Alicia members that were planning to come in there and he wasn't he wasn't able he had no control those people coming in and he did not know whether they were going to push a fight and what was going to happen and he told us kids. You know it seems safe here today. It is gonNA stay say she can't. We just told you that that some pretty personal think for a second about the kind of love guys talking about a love that is so strong you can step aside and let someone get what they want most even if it'll kill them leaving behind daughters and sons foster children a wife a mother brother a ranch hard-fought dream after talking to guy I'm left with another competing narrative not lavoix as a Nazi lavoix as a hero but Lavoix is someone trying to control his on story. His life was full of failures basketball two marriages in ranching but there's no living life without failure seems like lavoix simply. Let it to find him. One Way to look at his death is as a way to wash away those failures simplifies life down to the last six hundred days when he stood for something and died as a martyr in recordings that were made by undercover agents agents embedded in bill keebler militia Finnigan told Keebler he quote wants to be like the guy standing in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square and that if he gets taken out and the causes the poor ranchers widow so he was thinking about how his death would be perceived even before he went to Oregon it makes me wonder if voice dream was never really about being a lone horseman in the desert fighting for way of life but instead it was about figuring. Away to die as a hero before we leave I asked about the ending of La Voice book the Hero Cowboy who dies in a shootout with the cops guys a master's degree in counseling after all so so did he see it as a suicide note story. There was pretty an ending of a cowboy getting to shootout with the federal government and gets killed and then here. That's exactly what happened to Lavoix. What do you make of that? You know it really isn't I mean he you know if you read that book. I mean there's no question that that was the person he wanted had to be. He wants to be a person who had the ability to stand up and make a difference. I'M GONNA go back to Salem back to the Church of finicky representatives of the Patriot movement hard at work making Lavoix into whatever they want him to be. You know what I was reading the voice book he said something in the book that to me just stood out he talked about how we're going to control every aspect of our lives from what we eat to what we drive to what we wear. This is true. After the movie finished. This lady took the stage and started the throwing around all these wild conspiracy theories about how the U._N.. Aka The new world order is using environmentalism to control everyone crowd is loving her ask Ginette and mark her about this why partner the voice message which they say is apolitical with conspiracy theories political rhetoric and they say yeah maybe we should think about who hitches their wagon to lavoix as a martyr but Janette victims wrongful death lawsuit lawsuit has a total deep state vibe to it accusing everyone from former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to Oregon's governor as being a part of the plot to kill Avoi- it's pretty clear lavoix wanted to be a martyr now his wife life is spreading that message so maybe the Patriot movement is getting him right the journey. The movie is taken over the last six months is worth noting it hasn't been shown at libraries or mainstream G._O._P.. Gatherings the media. It's been shown militias anti Muslim groups and prominent conspiracy theorists. We'll voice death is being used to make extremists more extreme and this is largely how this whole conflict has gone for the past past thirty years back to Ruby Ridge and Waco. If you think of those events is when the broader public became aware of the modern anti-government movement you can see this game of tit for tat playing out over decades the feds shot Sammy and Vicki rickie weaver at Ruby Ridge and they raided the branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas and then two years later Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City killing one hundred sixty eight people after waco the Fed stop shooting I and adopted more of a weight amount policy but then Maller lavoix charged a roadblock was killed so the pattern continues and that raises a much bigger question. Where does this go next how many more people will turn toward violence because they can go online and watch the void diet over and over again? Genetic is taken this movie a lot of places including one part of the West. I know really well eastern eastern Washington last summer. She showed it to a separatist religious community near the Canadian border if the message that she wants to get across about La Voie is that he wasn't an extremist weibring the perfect martyr to a place for anti-government violence killings by white supremacists have been happening for more than thirty years. That's next time on Bundy Ville Um. This episode was written by me. Lisa Tilly Peter Fricke right and Ryan has music by Robbie carver. This series is produced by Peter and Robbie from thirty minutes West. We had editorial oversight from Kelley Stout. Mike Dang an anti Griffin fact checking by Matt Giles Research help from Kim Freda and a special thanks to David stuck eat and thank you to the Buckskin tavern in Arizona which was kind enough to sell us real beer when the entire city of Connecticut Utah Would Not Bunny Ville is a co production of long rates and Oregon public broadcasting their members make this show possible so if you like this type of journalism please help support it. You can do that with any any type of donation bigger small either long rains or O._P._B.. You can also support Bundy Ville leaving us a rating or view wherever you get your podcasts or just by telling your friends to subscribe. There's a ton we.