Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose stand-off last year with the Bureau of Land Management over illegal cattle grazing helped spur another stand-off this year in Oregon, compared Robert “LaVoy” Finicum to Jesus during Finicum’s funeral on Friday.
Finicum, who acted as the spokesman for the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was shot and killed last month after confronting federal authorities. Finicum had tried to evade a road block. When he got out of his vehicle to confront law enforcement, video shows he reached for his waist twice before authorities shot him.
Finicum’s service was held in tiny Kanab, Utah, and was attended by more than 1,000 mourners, OPB reports.
“I’m here to honor a great man,” Bundy told OPB News, at the funeral service on Friday. “He was basically crucified.”
Finicum had vowed he would die for his interpretation of the Constitution rather than go to jail.
Cliven’s son, Ammon Bundy and other followers are in jail with no bail awaiting trial on indictments relating to the occupation, which lasted nearly a month.
Cliven Bundy’s comments reflect the fact that supporters of the Bundy occupation have attempted to paint Finicum as a martyr. According to OPB reporter Amelia Templeton, cars at the funeral arrived with fliers on their windshields saying Finicum was “murdered.”
Cars are arriving at the viewing for Robert LaVoy Finicum with this poster on the windshield. pic.twitter.com/zPK7AHoZwB
— Amelia Templeton (@ameliaOPB) February 5, 2016
The occupation started as a protest against what Bundy and company considered to be an unjust prison sentenced for Harney County ranchers who were convicted of setting fire to federal lands.
Four holdouts remain inside the wildlife refuge as of Saturday, the Oregonian reports. A memorial set up for Finicum was torn down, in an act the paper calls a sign that locals are fed up with the occupation.
Watch video of the procession, as posted to YouTube, here: