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Arizona roadway to be named for man killed during Oregon protest

Updated November 7, 2017 - 7:26 pm

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A portion of a northern Arizona roadway is being renamed in honor of a controversial figure who was killed by state police during the prolonged occupation of a federal wildlife refuge 22 months ago.

Mohave County supervisors voted 3-2 during their Monday board meeting to rename a portion of Yellowstone Road near the northwest Arizona community of Cane Beds after LaVoy Finicum. Finicum, 54, was an Arizona Strip cattle rancher who served as spokesman for the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.

Oregon state troopers shot and killed Finicum on Jan. 26, 2016, following a vehicle chase on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southern Oregon.

The request to rename the road came from friends and family members who did not reference Finicum’s political involvement or violent death during the board meeting. Instead, they indicated that renaming the road would help recognize the long history of the Finicum family in northern Arizona.

Kingman resident Jennifer Jones-Esposito, however, called Finicum an American patriot who was “murdered” by authorities.

“He was willing to take a stand for things that most people will never have the courage to do,” she said. “We should never forget what happened to LaVoy. I would erect a monument in his honor if I could afford to do it personally, but changing the name of this one road is absolutely the very, very least we can do to honor his memory.”

The troopers were cleared of wrongdoing after an investigation, but whether the shooting was justified remains the subject of controversy and public debate.

The county Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of the request to rename the road, noting another nearby roadway already bears the Finicum name. Supervisors did not discuss the item before approving board member Hildy Anguis’ motion to rename the road.

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