- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fast-tracked Oregon legislation that would conceal the identity of the officer who shot Robert “LaVoy” Finicum is meeting with resistance from supporters of the slain Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier.

State Rep. Jeff Barker, the Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, added an amendment last week to H.B. 4087 that would allow courts to withhold for 90 days the name of an officer who uses deadly force in the event of a “credible threat of danger.”

“The whack jobs — the militants — they were demanding to know the name of the officer that killed LaVoy, and they were going to kill him,” Mr. Barker told The Oregonian. “We’re frantically trying to get this one done.”

The amended bill goes to the House floor after winning unanimous approval Thursday in committee, but the measure is already stoking outrage among those who insist Finicum’s death was “murder.”

The group Oregon Wide Open urged its Facebook followers to fight the bill by contacting their state legislators.

“So all you ‘WHACK JOBS’ who simply want to know who killed a man without provocation of any kind, you have a very short window to let your state representative know your vote resides with him or her only if they don’t sign off on this nonsense,” said the Sunday post. “This is unprecedented and will set a lasting standard of [unaccountability] if allowed to happen.”

Mr. Barker said the amendment came at the request of the Oregon State Police officials after they received death threats against the officer who shot and killed Finicum in a Jan. 26 clash with occupiers at an FBI roadblock on Highway 395.

His death is still under investigation, although the FBI took the unusual step of releasing an aerial video of the shooting two days later.

The legislation runs counter to the recent push for greater police transparency and accountability in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, spurred by the 2014 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Just last year, the Oregon legislature approved a bill to ban police profiling based on “real or perceived factors” and to appoint a committee to prepare a report on racial profiling.

Kimberly McCullough, legislative director of the ACLU of Oregon, expressed reservations about the amendment, saying that the public “has a very strong interest in the right to know the identity of officers who’ve been engaged in deadly force.”

“Any allowance to withhold officer names needs to be very carefully and narrowly crafted to avoid abuse,” she told The Oregonian.

The 41-day standoff at the wildlife refuge ended Thursday with the surrender of the final four holdouts. Twenty-five people have been indicted in connection with the armed occupation on one count of felony conspiracy.

Occupation leader Ammon Bundy has insisted the occupation was a peaceful protest, motivated by federal public lands authority and the resentencing of two Harney County ranchers to five years’ imprisonment each for a prescribed burn that spread to federal property.

In a Friday speech on the House floor, Mr. Barker called the refuge protesters “crackpots” and said, “These people are, I believe, crazy. They like to dress up in Army clothes. I did that when I was a kid too.”

Oregon’s abbreviated 2016 legislative session began Feb. 1 and ends March 5.


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