Southern Utah community holds vigil for Oregon protester LaVoy Finicum

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 00:27:12-05

WASHINGTON CITY, Utah -- A vigil was held in Washington City Monday evening for a rancher who was killed in Oregon last week during a standoff at a federal wildlife refuge.

LaVoy Finicum was considered one of the leaders of the protest. Oregon State Police was attempting to arrest him Tuesday when he was shot and killed.

On Monday, more than 200 people attended the vigil, held at Nisson Park, and the majority of them didn't even know Finicum, but they said they knew what he stood for.

"If you are willing to die for something that you believe in, there's not a lot of people out there like that anymore, I don't know if I could," said Charity Wight, who organized the vigil. "Honestly a part of me was like if it’s just me and my girls I'm teaching them what's important in life and I think this new generation really needs to learn that."

Finicum felt the federal government was illegally possessing Malhaur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Ore. He believed he was helping the people of that county reclaim what was rightfully theirs.

"A lot of us are cowards to tell you the truth I want to be brave so I'm here to gain inspiration and to feel everybody's spirit who loved him even though they didn't know him," said Becky Lounsbury.

Some of Finicum's family members were also at the vigil. They said they were overwhelmed by the community support.

"To see the impact he had on other lives is a true honor to be able to be associated with him and the cause that he's been standing for," said cousin David Cluff.

The day of Finicum’s death, FBI video shows the Utah man fleeing from police and crashing into the snow. He gets out of the truck with his hands up. Police then say Finicum reached into his jacket pocket and that's when they shot him. A loaded handgun was later found in his pocket, according to police.

"I do believe his life did not need to be taken and this could have been resolved in much more peaceful means," Cluff said. "They portray him as a man with a death wish and that couldn't be further from the truth he had everything to live for he loved life and that's exactly what he was standing for his life and liberty"

Last Tuesday Ammon Bundy, who helped to organize the protest in Oregon, said that he wanted everyone who remained at the refuge to go home.

On Monday, Cliven Bundy, Ammon's father, sent a letter to the Harney County Sheriff's Office, which states the protesters will retain possession of the resource center and that all the police surrounding the refuge should leave.