Wednesday, 10 February 2016


BURNS — Militant leader Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, armed, angry and facing arrest, shouted again and again to police who had stopped him outside Burns that he needed to go see "the sheriff."

He felt only one man could protect him — Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.

Finicum, 54, never reached John Day, where Palmer was waiting to share the stage with the anti-government protesters who had taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Harney County a month earlier.

Finicum was shot and killed by state troopers after the FBI said he ignored demands to surrender, tried to elude pursuing officers and crashed into a snowbank after swerving to miss a police roadblock.

In the days since the Jan. 26 shooting, Finicum's final words and Palmer's response to the deadly confrontation have focused attention on the sheriff who has openly challenged federal authority in his own county.

Palmer took to social media to say he knew nothing about plans that day to stop the occupation leaders and that he had not been at the "ambush site."

His words drew a rebuke from the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, concerned that his description would "only inflame an already tense situation and incite further violence." The association's executive committee is considering a citizen request that it investigate Palmer.

In the last week, Palmer has declined repeated interview requests from The Oregonian/OregonLive.

But he twice met with some of the occupation leaders earlier in the protest and supported the community meeting in John Day.

His reputation as a hardline critic of the federal government has drawn strong support from some local loggers, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts who have defended Palmer in recent days. One militant pledged online that 6,000 militia members would respond to Grant County if the sheriff needed help.


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