On February 11, 2016 Husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada, turned themselves in to authorities outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Approximately an hour and a half later after a rambling conversation which was “live streamed” on the internet David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, surrendered.
Listening to the live stream of the final negotiations with David Fry was like taking the mind-bending ride in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. In that conversation there were layers of malfunction, axe-grinding, political paranoia, religion, personal issues and yes, even a little truth. Listening to this with the scrolling text of commentary from other listeners added even another confabulating layer of anger, rage, sympathy, derision, and yes, even a little truth. The whole experience was dizzying.
At the beginning of the audio it appears that Mr. Seim, a self-styled “liberty speaker“. attempts to initiate the call to Mr. Fry on Thursday morning. And that the intention of the call was to “make sure that they don’t pull anything.” They, being the FBI at the site. So that explains the “why”. The phone call is an effort by supporters of the occupiers of the refuge to make sure that a “set of public ears” is monitoring the situation.
The notion that the FBI needs a public monitor to apprehend four people who have chosen to camp out on a bird sanctuary for a month and a half in winter seems a little far fetched to me. But, I should be able to say “completely unnecessary”.
The talk was mostly about the surrender of the Andersons and Mr. Banta. The conversation is filled with references to betrayal and the inability to trust the FBI. The entrenched distrust of the government representatives is on full display. Ms. MIchele Fiore, a Republican representative of the Nevada Assembly, states, at about 18 minutes, that she is going to err on the side of being generous and give the FBI the benefit of the doubt that they will keep their word.
At about the 1:20 timestamp Ms. KrisAnn Hall joins the conversation. From this point what I listened to was, at it’s barest, the three-way conversation between David Fry, on the Malheur Refuge, Gavin Seim, and KrisAnne Hall, a lawyer turned political activist. Ms. Hall and Mr. Seim were attempting to talk Mr. Fry into leaving the refuge.
Ms. Hall dislikes the term “surrender” and from the moment she joined the call the tenor of the conversation changed significantly. Kelly House of The Oregonian summed up Ms. Hall’s contribution this way: The conversation “became a monologue on Hall’s political views with pauses in which she checked in on the occupiers.” I find even that somewhat generous. The number of times that Ms. Hall ignored, talked over or even taunted Mr. Fry was infuriating.
Mr. Seim was equally useless as a negotiator. While he did manage a calmer tone and seemed less inclined to incite Mr. Fry, he still added to the air of mistrust and the tone of hopelessness of the situation.
Mr. Fry, in the hour and a half of streaming audio he speaks of aliens, the secret string pulling of the banks, the obfuscation of the truth by power brokers, government funded abortion, atrocities and the Middle East. He is suicidal, hopeless and worn. And, he is genuinely afraid of what comes next.
So, on the audio interface I was listening to a man under tremendous pressure, trying to feel his way through a maze, while two people talked, talked, talked AT him. And on the visual interface I was watching the comments scrolling past as people from all over the world weighed in on the conversation.
And the people, the mob, was not kind. There were a few comments which wondered why these two people (Hall and Seim) were even involved. Most simply pointed and jeered at any perceived failures of the three people. Christianity got a roasting, the faith, as well as its followers. It was as if a mob had gathered below the ledge and were yelling “Jump!”
I think that Mr. Fry was the luckiest man on Earth yesterday. Because, despite two people with no idea of mental health issues, no negotiation experience and no training exploiting his paranoia and his position, he managed to walk out of the Malheur refuge alive.
The whole conversation is available on Youtube.