In what was an incredibly tense drama, the surrender of the last Oregon refuge occupier played out over a public live stream audio feed as 27-year-old David Fry refused to exit the compound.
For weeks four people have remained encamped at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge as the last on-site vestiges of an Oregon standoff that began over a month ago in protest of federal land control practices and the imprisonment of two ranchers. The occupation turned violent two weeks ago when the leadership was arrested while traveling to another town and Robert "LaVoy" Finicum tried to run a roadblock and was shot and killed.
According to his Facebook page, Franklin Graham — the son of the famous Billy Graham — had been in contact by phone every day with the four holdouts at both their request and the request of the FBI.
Graham wrote, "Last night I was on the phone with them for several hours, was able to have prayer with them, and they have said they would come out today. I am on my way there and hope to be there by 7:00 AM their time. Please keep them, law enforcement officials, and all involved in your prayers, that everyone will be safe."
As Graham arrived around 9:15 a.m. PST, at least two of the occupiers announced that they were going to walk out right away unarmed but did not immediately do so. 20 minutes later, the FBI ordered Sandy Anderson, Sean Anderson, David Fry, and Jeff Banta to exit the refuge compound. Sean then asked for confirmation of Graham's arrival at a nearby FBI checkpoint before saying, "Alright, Sandy and I are coming out."
Sandy surrendered first. The Sean walked out holding an American flag with one hand while keeping the other hand raised. Jeff surrendered as well.
27-year-old David was much more reluctant, yelling over the phone, "Unless my grievances are heard, I will not come out!"
He then added, "I'm feeling suicidal right now. I have to stand my ground. I will die a free man!"
KrisAnne Hall, a constitutional educator, desperately tried to assure David that his message had been heard and that he needed to come out peacefully. Both she and David evoked the story of Paul and Silas going to prison and argued over whether the story supported David giving up peacefully or holding his ground.
KrisAnne told David, "If you're not around [dead], can your grievances be heard? You're going to take away the ability you have to be a real voice in this."
Throughout the dramatic negotiation with KrisAnne, David shared his many grievances with the U.S. government, including taxes funding abortion, Obama's approach to terrorism, restrictions on marijuana, human experiments through chemical modifications, and UFO cover-ups.
Throughout the dramatic negotiation with KrisAnne, David shared his many grievances with the U.S. government, including taxes, abortion, terrorism, and marijuana.
She then suggested he give himself up to Franklin Graham and get a hug from the reverend. Franklin Graham could be heard on the phone a couple times, but his words were inaudible on the audio feed.
"It just feels like my future, my life, my country was stolen. America's Christians don't listen to their God. Learn to fight!" David expressed in extreme agitation.
KrisAnne added, "I'm telling you that if you step up and walk out, your fight will endure."
Conservative internet broadcaster Gavin Seim was also heavily involved in the negotiations, supporting David's need to get his message out but attempting to get him to give himself up peacefully.
After more than a hour of nerve-racking back-and-forth where David threatened to take his own life numerous times, he began negotiating heavily with a FBI agent on a second phone.
Finally, just before 11 a.m. PST, David walked out of the refuge building he was in and peacefully gave himself up to authorities. According to The Oregonian, the other three occupiers, Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta were also taken into custody.
David's father Bill commented, "We are all relieved our prayers were answered."