Funeral to draw large crowd in support of Oregon occupier - KPTV - FOX 12

Funeral to draw large crowd in support of Oregon occupier

LaVoy Finicum (File photo) LaVoy Finicum (File photo)

By JOSH HOFFNER and FELICIA FONSECA
Associated Press

The funeral for the Arizona rancher killed by law enforcement during the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge was expected to draw supporters Friday from around the West to a small Utah town.

Authorities shot Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, 54, during a Jan. 26 traffic stop after they say he reached for a gun in his jacket pocket. His supporters called it an ambush after Finicum and others took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and demanded the federal government relinquish public lands to local control.

His death inspired a call for like-minded followers to come to Kanab, Utah, for his funeral. The day's events, billed as "LaVoy Finicum's Stand for Freedom," include a visitation and funeral, followed by a memorial horse ride to a local middle school for a benefit concert.

The events could draw up to 1,000 people, including many from Kanab and the nearby towns of Fredonia and Cane Beds, Arizona, where Finicum lived, said Sgt. Alan Alldredge of the Kane County Sheriff's Office. Others are expected to come from Nevada and elsewhere in Arizona.

"They've kind of put the call out nationwide," Alldredge said.

Sheriff's officials and the Utah Highway Patrol will be on hand to ensure the events are peaceful and orderly. Given the anti-government sentiment expected among the crowd, Alldredge said local law enforcement agencies have pleaded with the FBI and other federal agents to stay away.

"We've kind of asked them to stay away, and they say they will," Alldredge said.

One of the protesters who stood with Finicum at the Oregon refuge hopes to attend the funeral. Shawna Cox is from Kanab, and a judge released her from jail with conditions including an electronic ankle monitoring bracelet.

The standoff began Jan. 2, with the group demanding the government change federal land policies and free two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires. A total of 16 people have been indicted on a federal charge, including the four occupiers who remain at the refuge. Just three, including Cox, have been allowed to leave jail ahead of trial.

Defense attorneys have said their clients engaged in civil disobedience and are being punished for political speech. They say the only use of force during the standoff was by police.

The government says that once the occupation began, the group brandished firearms to keep officials from carrying out their duties, threatened violence and intimidated locals "to effectuate the goals of the conspiracy."

This story has been corrected to show Kane County was misspelled Cane.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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