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tv   This Is Life With Lisa Ling  CNN  October 22, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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things will change. they are changing. but for now, let's just wreck some cars. ♪ i'm on patrol with some heavily armed men. they're not members of the military. they're not law enforcement. they're everyday people who are exercising their right to bear arms. this is a malitia, a private group of armed citizens. and all over the country people like this are preparing for a fight they say is already on our doorstep. >> reload. >> tonight we embed with those americans willing to die to protect their constitutional rights. would you consider yourself an extremist? >> in a good way, yes. most certainly.
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>> you can go ahead and shoot me. >> are they shooting now? >> and we meet the family of a man who gave his life for the fight. did you feel like your dad was at war with the government? >> more like the government was at war with him. >> today they are bigger and bolder than ever before. >> missile! >> and to understand them i need to go beyond all of the labels, all of the hype and listen. >> compromising on rights. why would i compromise on my rights. >> there's a time when we need to come and stand up to the constitution. we will not bow. we will not comply. we will not bend. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ it's hard to remember a time when america has been more divided. >> will be subject to arrest. >> after the 2016 election, right and left almost feel like different countries. i've even felt compelled to use my voice. >> this sisterhood is united. >> because our beliefs can so often define who we are, it's not easy to cross the aisle. but i do believe if any of us are going to break out of our bubbles, if we have any hope of unity, we have to start listening to the other side. and for me the other side is the patriot movement. we've all seen them in the news an online, far right wing groups
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and militias who believe the constitution is under threat and are preparing to protect it by any means necessary. >> we love our country and we fear for it right now. >> for them resisting big government is a way of life. for them a liberal agenda is a threat to our very freedom. i'm on my way to meet a malitia member who goes by silverback. a welder who publishes videos on a website. >> gun owners have been under attack for a long time. because they say things like what you think, people should be allowed to own tanks and nuclear weapons and helicopters and all of that stuff? well, yes. i do. >> he calls his group the southern arizona malitia and manages operations out of the suburban tucson home he shares with his girlfriend. his malitia is less than a year
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old but already has more than 20 official members. >> well our goal pretty much is being trained and prepared. you know, like the old saying is, it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. >> not many militias are open to the media but silverback wants to correct what he says is a bad rap from the press so he's invited our cameras to see operations from within. silverback. >> lisa. >> nice to meet you. >> thanks. come in. >> how often are you getting people inquiring and wanting to be part of your malitia? >> all of the time. it's just continuous. >> how often do you train? >> every weekend. every weekend expect for the major holidays, christmas, thanksgiving, those things. >> what exactly are you training for? >> name it. it could be anything. civil unset, economic collapse, foreign government or american government threat.
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anything that would endanger ourselves and the members of our groups and families. we don't cower in our homes afraid to leave because something bad is going to happen. in case something bad happens, we do all of this training. ♪ ♪ >> here's where we may actually agree. on the fact that america has never felt so uneasy. it's safe to say that under our thick american skin, in the background of our everyday lives, we're all bracing for something. no matter which side you lean, there is something to fear. terrorism, gun violence, climate change. in southern arizona an air force veteran named boomer feels especially on edge. >> the backpack on, daddy
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watches and makes sure that backpack stays on. i have fears on all levels. you take a military trained person that's already vigilant and you take the recent events from boston to orlando and everywhere in between and it's hard to relax. sit it down and walk off, it's bad. >> yeah. ♪ >> to counter the anxiety, boomer has applied to join silv silverback's malitia, a move he himself would have never expected. when did the malitia movement start to register in your consciousness? >> i was just looking for a place to go shoot that wasn't on anybody's land. and so in the process of looking for that, i just came across a malitia site. i was hesitant because of the philosophy that militias have been portrayed with.
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so i wanted to vet that out very quick and make sure that we weren't going to, you know, be storming any property or anything like that. i didn't seek out a malitia, but because they're growing so much, it's right in front of you. >> there are hundreds of malitia's nationwide, largely comprised of white men. >> i'm the founder of the west virginia irregulars first battalion civilian malitia. >> there's always going to be ti terrorists or extremists of some sort. >> malitia are not illegal but some are monitored by the law enforcement. the sites are everywhere, how to find militias, how to join them, even tutorials on how to form your own. what boomer wants is training for any sort of threat that he can pass along to his family.
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>> okay. so now it's all back together and we take our towels -- >> if he joins he'll be expected to attend as many ings as he can and be a committed member. what do you do when you see a gun. >> don't touch it, leave the room, tell an adult. >> good job. >> this weekend it begins withi. and then he and the malitia have 90 day to size each other up before his membership is confirmed with a vote. >> for some reason i'm a little nervous. it took about six months op contemplation, you know, is this something i really want to get into. and i'm still not sure if it is or not but that's what this weekend is about to me. taking the next step to see if it is. >> he's placed a lot of measured expectations on the event. but will this new crowd be more extreme than he bargained for?
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every weekend of the year the southern arizona malitia meets in the desert for 48 hours of gun practice, survival training and military drills. we've been invited on one of their weekly trainings. i'm not a fan of guns and we probably have a lot of differing views about everything. but i do want to know what they're about and understand what they're about. how are you doing? >> hey, how are you doing. >> silverback, a former competitive marksman says these trainings prepare them for real-life scenarios when the members would be expected to step up.
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boomer is one of two brand-new recruits here today. gentlemen, how are you. li lisa. >> hog. >> nice to meet you. >> noll. >> nice to meet you. i won't learn any real names this weekend. only their malitia nicknames. i won't see their whole faces since there are only more than a few who don't want their malitia activity reveal. >> rooster. >> nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you. li . >> line up. two rows. >> the guys kick off the weekend with hand-to-hand combat. >> boomer, be above your feet. from your shoulder. all right. keep your guard up. >> it's all very intense, very physical. >> all right. boomer, i like those white socks. >> keep your hands up.
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>> i notice boomer is having trouble keeping up. but this is just the beginning. while malitia membership is free, everyone must provide their own supplies, including firearms. if a war broke out in the desert, i'm definitely with the right guys, but that doesn't make me any less nervous. where would be the best place for me to stand be. >> off to the sides. >> we have two different types of rifle out here. so you can see how each one kind of performs and decide which one you want to buy after this. so -- ar-15. >> not quite there yet, guys. >> ready? magazines in. shoulder them. fire!
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[ gunfire ] pistol! pistol! stop! >> cease fire! >> suddenly the gun drills come to a halt. >> what happened? >> it caught on something. >> all right. close it up. >> one of their guns had an accidental discharge that could have hit someone. >> you got to be more aware, okay? >> what happened? >> it's unclear exactly what happened. it probably wasn't his fault. but until we get that squared away were i can't have him on the firing line anymore. >> let me see your pistol, make sure you're clear. >> so is he done? >> he's done. >> hammer who is handling the gun is sent back to the trucks. an investigation of the incident we veels it was a mechanical
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malfunction, not human error. but whether or not hammer can return is determined by a group vote. >> i say welet him comeack. >> rooster. >> no problem. >> ziggy. >> ghost. >> good. >> puck. >> i'm good if he's good. >> what, boomer? you were standing right next to him. >> maybe talk to him a little bit. he looked uncomfortable before it started. >> i talked to him. >> i mean before we start he looked a little uncomfortable and now i can only imagine. so maybe a little more time. >> we won't put him next to you. >> thank you. >> as they welcome hammer back, i find a moment to check in with boomer. how are you feeling so far about things? >> it's good. all the guys that i met seem to be pretty nice. very professional. that was one of the things they was concerned about. but the professionalism is awesome. so, you know, a lot of firing, besides the mishap, you know, i
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still feel relatively safe. >> i'm kind of surprised but impressed at how important safety is with these guys. >> yes. >> is that what you expect snd. >> that's what i was hopeful for. and seeing it live for the first time is -- the lengths that they go to stay safe is really positive for me. >> reload. >> as the day progresses, i see less of a club or military make believe. i see what could easily be a real military unit prepared and ready. >> you guys ready? >> and that's what they hope we'll see. because they are a necessary part in keeping america free. >> a malitia is necessary to the security of the free state. to defend against tear yrannyty >> federal agencies consider malitia groups and patriot
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movement groups to be extremists. would you consider yourself an extremi extremist? >> in a good way, most certainly. >> in what way? >> the strict belief in the constitution and the unwavering belief that the constitution of the republic with what we should ad here to. >> why is there an increase in the militias and patriot groups over the last few years. >> an outgoing president that's outspoken about guns, an outgoing president that a lot of people feared was going to try to be a dictator and stay in office. >> you're talking about president obama? >> yes. >> that was a real fear of people? >> i've heard it. >> militias grew 800% during obama's presidency as conspiracy theories, exaggerations and rumors surfaced online and in the far right media.
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there were fears that he would try to stay in office indefinitely, that he was a socialist and a muslim. even one wild rumor that he was going to invade texas. >> this is in preparation for the financial collapse and maybe even obama not leaving office. i'm telling you, this is so huge. >> many assumed this was all racially motivated, a black lash against our first black president. >> are there racist malitilitiat there? >> yes, there are but we're not open to them. >> are you open to people with different ethnicities training? >> sure. we've trained with people of all races and religious beliefs before. >> silverback says for him it's not about race it's about policy. so i take him at his word. >> it may sound silly but every time a democrat gets in office people are afraid their guns are going to get taken away, afraid that their rights are under attack. >> do you think that now that we have a new president in office there will be fewer malitia groups rising up? >> i hope having the new
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president didn't let people put their guard down. >> you're going to be as vigilant as you always have been in. >> most certainly. history has shown us that governmen governments all over the world have turned tyrannical and it's quite easy for them to do it. we're going to do training at home. this time it's reloads with the ak 47. >> i realize the way the malitia's interpret their role as a security measure against tyran tyranny. the sheriff said it took eight officers to bring him down. >> the problem for law enforcement is when militias and extremists become vigilantes, taking matters into their own hands. >> about a third of the building has been blown away. >> while silverback says his malitia never would, there have been plenty of incidents with where others have. >> he confessed to an assassination designed to quote wake people up.
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>> since 2001 right wing extremists have been responsible for almost 50 deaths in attacks on law enforcement. >> two plfr police officers and one civilian shot dead. >> immigrants. >> a planned attack on an immigrant community in kansas. >> judges. >> police described him as a member of the anti-government group that the fbi considers a top domestic terrorist threat. >> so where is that between preparing and reacting. how far would even this malitia be willing to go? you know what's better than
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>> it's hard to lump patriot movement groups and militias together too closely. some focus on survivalism, others on border security or land rights. but if there's one common thread, it's their adamant support of the second amendment. in arizona it's the last training day of the weekend and the southern arizona malitia insists i get better acquainted with my right to bear arms. one of the conditions of us securing access to this group was that i had to fire off some weapons. so they brought out a few for me to try. >> so have you ever handled a pistol before? >> no. i mean i shot a bb gun.
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>> so it has a full magazine, 15 rounds. >> i'm doing 15 rounds? >> you don't have to but you can. you want to. i'm going to heat it up for you. it's live. once you pull the trigger it goes bang. ready? >> yeah. you hit it. finger off the trigger. you hit it. >> okay. there's 15 rounds in here? okay. >> yeah. >> you hit it. you hear that ring? >> yes. >> you're getting it. >> turns out i'm not so bad so they move me up a level or two. >> nice. look at you go. >> i think i found my weapon. the thing about it, though, in all seriousness, okay, like what i just shot, it's an amazing feeling. but scary to me at the same time
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having that much power in my own hands, you know. >> it's a stress reliever. >> i guess when you're hitting a target. but -- >> you know what? you haven't stopped smiling since you shot it. >> let's try the next. he's right. the rush is indescribable. but it's one thing to fire an ar-15 at a range, another to have one in my home. i understand the second amendment and the right the bear arms. but some of these weapons are hard core. automatic weapons. do you believe in any regulation of the firearms at all? >> i believe there's people that shouldn't have firearms. but imposing those rules as a general law to where it hurts people that are using those weapons or tools for the right reasons, it hurts more than it does help. >> it just seems like one of the few issues where there just
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seems to be an inability to find any kind of compromise. >> compromising on rights? why would i compromise on my rights. >> it's the first step to losing other rights when you start compromising on those. you lose one right, the next one starts to go and the next one starts to go. there's a number of things you can lose out of that. >> for them the second amendment is a sort of canary in the coal mine. one regulation on guns would lead to the crumbling away of all of our rights. and for years militias has grown up the assumption that was just around the corner. >> all right, everybody. so come on around here. we're going to be doing some figure 8 drills. we're going to shoot down the other way, come out the other side. >> as i watch them do their final drills of the weekend, i think of my own fears. with the new administration i personally have trouble trusting. i wonder how far i would draw
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the line on what i would do for my rights. and it does seem like the only thing that can stand between us and chaos is the constitution written in stone. >> clear it. good. >> before we leave i find time to check in on boomer. all weekend he's been quiet and mostly kept to himself. >> it's been a roller coaster. i questioned for a good stretch of yesterday maybe this isn't something that was for me. >> so at what point did you turn the corner? >> i mean last night they just rallied when i was ready to fall over. and they were just like whatever you need. >> you seem a little emotional about it. where is that coming from? >> just been a long time. this is something i haven't felt since leaving the military.
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and i knew i missed it. i just didn't realize how much until this weekend. >> i wonder if it's the same for the other guys, just as important as the training and preparation is that closeness and trust. >> i would have flipped it. >> maybe this is how our bubbles grow, both on the right and the lft, when our biggest comfort in a frightening world is joining forces with like-minded people. but under what circumstances would a malitia rise up and make use of their training? >> this is about saving our country, about saving our contusi contusion. >> i'm about the meet a family of a man who in death has become the face of the patriot movement and its unintentional martyr. >> america, you got a revolution on your hands. ( ♪ )
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they're angry and ready to fight back. and one man has already died for the cause. >> it's not in my nature to go out and poke my finger in people's eyes. but there's a time when we need to come and stand up for the constitution. it is being eviscerated. it is eviscerated. we have lost it. >> on january 2nd, 2016 he left his home in arizona and headed out to oregon. 24 days later he was dead. he's been labeled a lot of things by law enforcement and the media but the family wants to world to know who laboy really was. in arizona, jeannette is still picking up the pieces after her husband's death. the mother of 12, she manages the family ranch and tries to make sense of what happened.
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i'm hoping she can help me understand what motivates our fellow american to rise up against the government. when is a fight worth a man's lif life? this is laboy? >> uh-huh. >> where did this come from? >> it came from a gentleman in california. >> a few years ago the family had no involvement with militias tore patriot movement. and to this day they say laboy was involved in neither. but look around the house. what is this? >> this is a gift that came in the mail just this last week. >> obviously someone hand carved this. >> and the quote to this. >> there are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them. i'm prepared to defend freedom. almost every week jeanette gets something new based on her husband's words and image. he's their folk hero and their
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martyr. how would he have felt to know about this outpouring. >> i think he would have been a little shy about this kind of attention. he would want someone else to be in that front row. we met at a singles church dance back in '93. i said, do you want to dance? and he said, oh no, vi no rhythm. and he was right. he had no rhythm. it was pretty awful. we had a whirlwind two weeks of dating and we were married on the 14th day in february. >> you got married after 14 days? >> yeah. >> what was it about lavoy that stole your heart? >> he was who he said he was. he was a man of integrity and he had principles and he followed them. >> throughout your relationship was lavoy always very political? >> no. no. no, he wasn't political. he was more of a quiet cowboy.
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he always stood in the back of the room, you know. >> at what point did he start to question the government's role in people's lives? >> it was probably after we moved here to the ranch. why is he needing a contract 0 agreeing to all of their terms and conditions. why do you have to tell me to ranch. i think i can manage this myself. >> lavoy had been raising cattle on federal land and like many ranchers he was frustrated by the regulations passed down by the federal government. regulations intended to protect the land and endanger species from overgrazing. but for lavoy they felt ever change. >> we're talking about ranchers trying to ranch like they've been ranching fir their whole life generational. >> their anger boiled over in 2004 when the government seized the cattle of a long term ranger
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named clive bundy. he had been illegally grazing them on land set aside to protect an endangered tortoise. >> the federal government is here with an army stealing my cattle. >> malitia members from as far away from virginia are joining forces with a rancher who is locked in the standoff with the government. >> the protest nearly turned deadly. >> you need to leave now! >> that was an amazing thing to watch, our government go up against the american people like that. armed the way they were. >> how did that experience change lavoy? >> he said, i've got to do something. the direction the country, i'm really worried. and i was watching this new man emerge, one that felt passionate about the constitution and the freedoms being lost. and then he started to speak up. >> hello, everyone. this is lavoy.
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>> lavoy began publishing videos spear heading his own campaign of activism. >> i hope you can see me. there's my few little cows right down under that tree there. you're going to come in here like you did with my friend and say, we're taking these out? then y and you better not get in our way? well, i'm telling you, leave me alone. we will not bow. we will not comply. we will not bend. when cowboys stand for freedom. see you later. >> i don't think he saw this coming as far as his political activism. because it just emerged. we really thought we would spend the rest of our days just riding the range and taking care of cows. >> but it didn't stop there. within two years lavoy would become the face of defiance against the federal government and its martyr. >> you want to pick on somebody, come pick on me. it's got to stop.
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left behind his wife jeanette and 12 children. including his youngest, tian. at 18 years old, she was his si sidekick. can you describe what your relationship with your dad was like? >> well, he was my best friend. and as his right-hand man. >> you have lots of siblings. how did you become his right-hand man? >> i had the same passion as he did for ranching and horses. when you get on that horse and you're out there, it's just you and your animals. it's very peaceful. >> this is beautiful land. it's a place for freedom. freedom is worth fighting for. >> lavoy finicum had been building an online audience with his videos denouncing the federal government. and out in the fields, tian was
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his cameraman. he went where he went until january 2nd, 2016 when he left home to protest with a group of ranchers. >> armed protesters seize a federal building say they won't leave fl they get what they want. >> we felt we had to make a stand to defend our rights. >> protesters led by bundy's son amen traveled to oregon and took over a protected wildlife refuge demanding the federal government concede control of the land to the county. lavoy was one of them and he began broadcasting within the refu refuge. >> this land is special. this land needs to be free again. >> the kbroup planned on illegally occupying the refuge for weeks, possibly months. they set up a perimeter and gathered supplies, including more guns. >> i know he didn't take firearms up to oregon with him. but his daughter brought him a couple of firearms.
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was that you? >> that was me, yeah. >> why did you take him guns? >> protection. his right to protect himself. not that he wanted to use it. it's not something that we wanted to do. >> and we're trying to understand why you have a loaded rifle here and how far will you take this? >> i have no intention of pointing guns after anybody that are not pointing guns at me. >> did you feel like your dad was at war with the government? >> no. more like the government was at war with him, i guess. >> at any point did you feel concerned about your father's life out there? >> it concerned me that i wasn't there with him because he wouldn't let me be there with him. but i knew he knew what he was doing. >> as days turned into weeks, protesters failed to win any concessions. and frustrated residents and politicians began pushing law enforcement to act. >> it is time for you to go
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home. >> you said you were here to help the citizens. that help ended when a peaceful protest became an armed occupation. >> the spectacle of lawlessness must end. >> almost a month after it began the conflict came to a head. and in the aftermath two videos emerged, one from a police helicopter and one from cell phone footage shot by a passenger in a vehicle driven by lav lavoy. both help paint a portrait of what happened that day. it's january 26, amen bundy and lavoy and protesters leave the property. state police intercept them and demand they surrender. those in amen's vehicle comply. but lavoy pushes back. >> i'm going to go meet the sheriff. you back down or you kill me now!
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>> who are you? >> going to get rid of them. you want my blood on your hands? get it done because we got people to see and place to go. >> you guys ready? >> get down. you duck down. give me the camera. go! >> lavoy guns the engine. what he doesn't know is the police have set a blockade just down the road. >> okay. they're shooting. >> hang on. >> this time lavoy gets out of the car. >> go ahead and shoot me. shoot me. >> stay down. stay down. stay down. stay down. stay down. [ gunfire ] >> dam mitt. >> if he dead? >> don't get out.
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they're shooting. don't do anything. where the hell is lavoy. >> the state police claim lavoy was reaching for a gun. but his family says he was grabbing his chest after he was struck by a >> you get up first. let her up first. you go first. you go first. >> it seemed like a lot of firepower on this car. i mean i -- i don't think i've ever seen anything like this. but i don't know. i mean these people occupying this reserve were known to have firearms. so it was fair to assume that the people inside the car had them. so what do you do if you're law enforcement? >> i was at a basketball game, and my uncle comes and grabs me. i could tell automatically that
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something was wrong. they take me out in the hall, and my mom is crying. so i obviously don't need to say anything. >> what has your dad's death meant for you? >> that i need to step up and do my part and be responsible in this family. >> lavoy was clearly loved by those who knew him best. for others, he became a symbol, a martyr. but what if we all took up arms to defend our beliefs? where would that leave us, a nation of people with such different perspectives? what happens when the trust we have in each other becomes fear? it's balanced...
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everyone can agree that the death of lavoy finicum was a tragedy. but placing the blame is still a matter of perspective. on one side, he was murdered by the oregon state police for a peaceful protest. on the other, he was armed and reckless. >> tom, would you like to bless the food? >> our dear father in heaven, we
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come to thee as thy children. >> i sit down with his wife and children to learn how they feel about his divisive new legacy. >> amen. >> people struggle with the idea of a peaceful protest that they say they were doing because everyone was armed. >> right. >> and in many parts of the country, being armed -- >> does not equate peaceful. >> doesn't mean peace, right. it contradicts peace. >> well, and that's really what worried me from the beginning because when i first heard about my dad being involved in oregon and the fact that they brought their weapons, my heart sank. i'm like, nobody is going to understand them. when you hear guns in a lot of the metro areas, you automatically think violence. and here out in the west, everybody just has a gun. you don't ever really see a cowboy that doesn't own a gun. >> when lavoy was stopped by law enforcement, why didn't he put his hands up and get out of the
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car like he was asked to do? >> they put their hands out the won't, and you know what happened? he got shot at. >> generally as a rule, you just obey what law enforcement says. in this case, he wanted to go somewhere where he felt safe, and that was at the town meeting with the sheriff and there could be more witnesses, not to mention probably scared by the shots that were already being fired. so when he takes off, sure, it's not obeying those orders, but it certainly doesn't seem to justify lethal force. >> the whole family believes that while lavoy did not comply, he was right to be afraid. now jeanette is filing a wrongful death suit. i speak with jeanette's lawyer, morgan phil pot who has been handling land cases in this area for years. some might say why don't these people comply with the law like anyone else does? >> anytime a policy comes about that affects the way those lands
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are managed, you're having a very direct impact on a family that likely has been on that land for a long time. one thing we often forget is this beauty that we come out here and see has been preserved by these ranching families. and i think they feel forgotten. i think they feel ignored. so naturally you're going to have conflict, and that conflict over time doesn't just go away. it tends to grow and severity. and you see a moment where a lavoy finicum stands up and says, i'm not taking it anymore. >> both tian and jeanette have taken the mantle from lavoy. >> i'm willing to fight and defend our freedoms and to die for them. and i ask you, america, to stand with me. >> tian is speaking out as part of a young new generation of resistance. while jeanette works the legal
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angle, trying to make the case that they are the better and rightful stewards of the land. >> i can do hard things. my children can do hard things. and we need to do hard things if we intend to make change. >> every day the concerns about the federal government voices by the finicums and the southern arizona militia grow closer and closer to my own life. >> can you give us a question? >> i'm not going to give you a question. >> can you stay -- >> you are fake news. >> their bubble is starting to overlap with mine. if not on the same issues, then on the anger and the distrust because lately, it seems we all have something to say. and we all believe that it's our patriotic duty to stand up for our rights. the hard things we do. the change we try to make. what risks are we willing to take? how far are we willing to go?
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and when have we gone too far? there we go. >> this is zach. he's cute, friendly, athletic, and a member of his high school varsity cheerleading squad. but he's also facing life as a convicted felon for something teenagers across the country are probably doing right now. how much prison or jail time is he facing? >> up to 40 years in prison and lifetime registry on the sex offender list. it's scary. it's maddening. it's outrageous. they had him wearing shackles when they brought him in. >> how did it feel to see your son like that? >> i just


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