Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cleanup is Done!

I received an email from a sister yesterday (July 29) and heard from a friend today, that cleanup is done and everyone is heading out. My friend is going to hang around Pinedale for a day or two and see if he can get a cleanup letter.

Thanks to all who helped out. Cleanup crew rocks!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Electronic Version of Operating Plan

Tom Florich sent me a Word copy of the Operating Plan. I've also created a PDF version for those who have trouble with Word documents. Please download and do as you wish with it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Clean Up Help Needed!

I pulled this message of usenet/agr today.
Please pass this info on to all your lists and especially to people near the gathering. Salt Lake City/Denver Crews - a big shout out to you to pitch in. Bring fruit and chocolate to share with those who are exhausted.

******BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE*******************

I just got a call from the clean-up crew at the gathering site and they asked me to post this message to a.g.r.

Clean-up is going slowly and more folks are needed to help. They request than anyone within a days drive of the site who can help please come back and pitch in for a few days. They could use about 2 dozen more people.

A lot of folks bailed after the FS put out the mandatory fire evacuation call and many more left on July 12. There are only 50 folks doing all this cleanup work since the 12th. If the usual 150 - 200 folks had stayed another week or so then the clean up would be a lot further along. Climbing up and down steep hills over the miles of the gathering site is burning these folks out.

There are no trucks on site to take out the garbage so last week they rented a u-haul to move out a big load and they are going to rent another u-haul tomorrow. The funds for this is coming out of the clean-up crews pockets.

What is left to do is the disappearing and water barring of the trails, getting the remaining garbage out, checking all the campsites to make sure they are disappeared, chopping up the compacted parking areas and reseeding.

Folks, it is important that a site be left without a trace and it takes a lot of work to get a well used gathering site to this point. How a site is left after a gathering is how the gathering will be
remembered. There is more to a gathering than just the party. If you can help in any way please do so now.

Beautiful Gathering in Wyoming

LEO woos aside, we created a beautiful gathering in Wyoming.

We had a alcohol free Welcome Home at the lower trail head that brought together a diverse group of rainbows who normally don't hang out together and in spite of philosophical differences they created a great kitchen and camp.

We had an awesome and alcohol free Front Gate who took the time to share Rainbow lore around the campfire late at night with folks just getting home.

There was lots of good filtered drinking water and fresh salad at dinner circle ever night through the 4th. Everyone who showed up to dinner on time got salad - Thank you Oji Kitchen - you guys rock.

There was a fantastic hipstory (Rainbow history/stories of gatherings past) on the night of July 5 and a changing of the guard. Plunker stepped down and passed the feather onto Glowing Feather and I look forward to hearing your hipstories in the future.

The younger generation took control of dinner circle and did an awesome job of keeping us on track and getting fed. The older generation took the time to share wisdom with the younger folks and then were wise enough to step aside.

There was beautiful music being played and rock art sculptures rising from the soil. There was a jugglers glen, a crazy bird stage at Granola Funk, sweet vibes at Warriors of the Light.

Let's not forget the anti-brunch at Loven Ovens. For those not in the know, the NYC Purple gang does a brunch on July 5th complete with mimosas. Unfortunately, you need a ticket in order to be fed. So the wacky folks at the Ovens, made up sack lunches with bologne sandwiches and took them to people waiting in line for brunch. Then came back and cooked up some killer ass food and fed those of us who were ticket less. Just some fun Rainbow pranks and more people got more food out of it. Thanks to both NYC and the Ovens. It takes two to tango.

Shanti Sena Councils/Circles happened in the meadow after dinner circle most of the nights I made it to dinner circle. Next year I'll be doing them again. Sharing our knowledge with each other is critical.

Our main meadow was full of blue and yellow flowers, granite rocks and small children playing with the occasional kite and hang glider.

Two fire pits aside, our relations with the USFS Resource people went very well - shame on whoever called Rebeca names - love everyone, love is our most powerful tool. The more we love, the more peace we create.

Our family created beautiful trails for us - thank you trail crew. We had a tooth brushing station - awesome idea. Yeast Man finally showed up and then dinner circle was complete. Who out there feels at home until they hear "YEAST" bellowed across the meadow at dinner circle? I was so happy to see Yeast Man, I even ate yeast. The beautiful spice couple where at the gathering sharing wonderful sauces to spice up those beautiful servings of rice and beans. I even tasted blueberry hot sauce - it was incredible.

A kind brother set up a way station in the match stick forest for tired or confused travelers hiking into the gathering. Thank you very much. Thank you to the kind younger brothers who helped me carry things when I was running out of steam. My beautiful family at Kid Village on July 3rd who taught peace under the most challenging of circumstances - you are my heroes.

Death Camp Kids - thank you for reminding me that I need to share love even when I'm getting frustrated.

Ogre & Joji - thanks for trying to keep me fed - I know I don't sit still enough but I loved camping with you guys and Sunshine, Stuttering Phil, Cassie, HeyJo, 4D, Jayhawk and the Okics. Everest, you kept me on my toes and you're one strong toddler.

Jesus Camp - thanks for sharing jesus songs with the brother finding god in the most difficult of circumstances.

Montana Mudd - you rock. Such good strong Shanti Sena energy popping up everywhere and keeping the family safe. Thanks for babysitting the LEOs, they can't seem to stay out of trouble without babysitters.

The circle on the 4th - we held the circle until the kids were in, all the way in, wrapped around the P^&$ pole. We always try to do it, but I'm not sure how long it's been since we've achieved it. The silence was strong. We are strong.

We held councils. We counciled on the boy scout issue, various times on Shanti Sena issues, with the Forest Service, with each other. We acknowledged our lack of house keeping in years past and people said yes, I'm a Rainbow who is willing to step forward and take peaceful action to create an amazing gathering and we did. We managed to get our disabled elders into the circle on the 4th and keep our children safe.

We went after our family who was taken to jail and brought them home if that's what they wanted. We went to court in peace and love and had citations dismissed or reduced to minimal fines.

To Circus who took a too high brother down in the most loving manner I've ever seen - a true Rainbow brother who proves that one can be strong and full of love at the same time. To Chris who dealt with everything life through at him and kept a smile on his face and a tune on his guitar.

We opened our hearts to the family of Garrett Bardin who disappeared on June 21 and was found deceased ten days later near the gathering of an apparent suicide. To send a card to his family, Garrett's Family, PO Box 22, Boulder, WY 82923. Donations can be made in his memory to Tip Top Search and Rescue, P.O. Box 400, Pinedale WY 82941. Also, an account has been set up at First State Bank in Pinedale for Garrett’s PALMS (Prevention, Awareness, Litigation against Medications that may cause Suicide). To Carol and Taylor, I hope the love we shared with you is still floating around those mountains. To Garrett, you must have been an amazing person to have so many people so worried about you. You are one with us now and forever.

To the many, many hands and smiles that created such a beautiful gathering - thank you and may you carry the cause of peace forward every day.

Blessings family.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Email me your law enforcement encounters

As we work on stopping the oppressive tactics of the forest service law enforcement division, we need your statements. What happened to you! When and where did it happen! Who are you and how do we get in contact with you. Were you shot by the cops and do you want to be part of a lawsuit. Did you get a ticket for something X^K#@^%%. Please email me all the above information. I will share it with lawyers and others working to stop the harassment of our family.

On the Operating Plan

In the fall of 1995, the United States Forest Service (USFS) amended their regulations to require a permit for use of National Forests when 74 or more people are involved. This regulation is an administrative regulation, in other words, Congress did not pass this is a law, it's just part of the Forest Service bureaucratic regulations.

Starting in 1996, the Rainbow Gathering has been on a collision course with the regulations. Some years a person has signed a permit, other years no one has. Many attempts have been made to change the regulation to accommodate non-hierarchical assemblies of people without success.

Finally in 2007, the USFS agreed to accept an unsigned operating plan in lieu of a signed permit. So with this very brief introduction, I'll jump into my report of the operating plan discussions on the land in Wyoming.

Due to the confusion about the boy scouts (to be covered in a separate post), we waited for days before the USFS was ready to discuss operating plans with gathering participants. In fact many gatherers contacts LEOs to ask them to pass a message to the USFS that we wanted to work on the operating plan. This went on for a few days before Tom showed up. As dates are hard to keep track of at the gathering, I'm guessing it wasn't until June 25th that we started this process. (Tom had been notified on June 10 that we selected the Big Sandy site).

Tom Florich of the USFS prepared a draft Operating Plan based on copies of operating plans used for Rainbow gatherings in years past. Unfortunately, the words "DRAFT" were not preprinted on the copies Tom passed out. I hand wrote "draft" on the copies that passed through my hands. We met three days with Tom to discuss the draft operating plan. I had requested numerous times that this council take place in Main Meadow or adjacent to INFO in the site, but Tom was insistent that he was short staffed and did not have time to go up there, so the councils were held at Welcome Home. Tom mentioned many times that the resource had a very small budget this year and was understaffed (too bad the same couldn't be said about law enforcement).

Our first day of counciling with the USFS started poorly with lots of shouting and yelling and energy directed towards past problems between the USFS and gathering participants. After an hour or two of this, we settled into working through the operating plan from front to back. Someone would read a paragraph and then gathering participants would discuss issues and concerns. We had 25 to 35 people in the council.

The second day of counciling went better as we jumped directly into our system and picked up where we had left off the day before. Day three, Tom delivered his latest version (unfortunately he neglected to date the copies he was handing out so there are many copies floating around without dates on them) but because that day was supposed to be his day off, he dropped them off and returned the next day. On the second day, I again asked Tom if we could move this council to Main Meadow or adjacent to INFO, but was given the same reasons for not doing so. As time was going on, more and more people were moving into the gathering and the hike back down to Main Meadow was 2.5 miles (the short hilly way) or 4 miles (the flat way) and we were losing participation.

By the third time we met, the council had shrunk to half a dozen people and as far as I was concerned, we never finished discussing the operating plan. Tom however felt like the discussions were finished. We discussed bringing the operating plan to main council. One person promised to block any attempt by main council to "approve" the operating plan. As I had to be in court on July 1, I do not know what if anything happened with main council and the operating plan.

There are a few things in the June 30th (next to last ) version of the operating plan that were left unfinished or that can be clarified so I'll attempt to answer them. Any copy of the operating plan that does not have page numbering in the lower right hand corner of the date of "30 June 2008" printed on the cover is not the last version.

Under Health and Safety, #2 - CALM will identify vehicles.....
There was a lot of discussion over the lack of need to identify vehicles since no road closures were in effect and in fact, the jeep trail through the gathering was open to all travel. I do not know if anyone ever identified any vehicles or not.

#5 - Trash will ... - despite the mention of burning wood and paper trash, I know of at least one person who received a citation for having paper trash in a fire pit.

Under Resource Protection, #1 - the original version of this paragraph made some reference to security being provided for parking areas only and seemed to indicate that LEOs would be responsible for security in other parts of the gathering. We discussed the fact that we provide our own security and the way it got written up was very confusing. My understanding of what the council who met with Tom wanted was gatherers will organize parking and Shanti Sena will provide security for the gathering. Because we never really finished the operating plan discussions the final version has very awkward wording that I don't feel represents what people in council had intended. On another bizarre note, I heard a brother focalizing parking at one of the upper lots was told by the LEOs to cease immediately.

# 10 - size of fire pits - the two giant pits that had been built by Early Bird and Oji prior to the first discussion of the operating plan. When the USFS expressed their horror at the amount of top soil destroyed in the creation of these pits. Gatherers discussed the importance of grandfathering in these two pits, preventing the creation of additional over engineered fire pits and restoring the areas impacted by these pits. At the time, Tom Florich agreed that we could leave this pits in place until after July 4th, but in subsequent days, the USFS tried to get the pits removed early and they became a huge point of conflict. The pit at Early Bird was shrunk a bit and that seemed to make the USFS happy. The district ranger, Tom Peters(son) flipped out when he saw the pit by Oji, and refused to discuss an cleanup strategy to minimize any long term environmental damage. PLEASE PEOPLE - LESS IS MORE - NO MORE HOOVER DAM FIRE PITS!

# 11 - discussions of fire danger were never finished. There was a difference of opinion between gatherers on what should be mentioned here - I wanted something to the effect if the fire danger escalates, the USFS and gathering participants should rediscuss fire safety instead of a blanket if A then B statement. This was another section that I felt never was worked on.

Under Animals, #1 - "Animals must be under control at all times. Verbal controls are not considered "under control" if the animal does not respond to verbal commands" - this was what we worked out, but unfortunately, I heard reports that law enforcement was enforcing leash laws.

On a good note, nudity was allowed everywhere except within view of Road 850 :)

Under Site Rehabilitation, #9 and 10 - the site specific needs and rehab plan were not complete per the operating plan because the USFS failed to show up. I left the morning of July 8 so they could have shown up late, but in our operating plan discussions Tom had said this had to be done no later than July 6 as that was his last date at the gathering. Also in the June 30th version, there was a reference to "rainbow volunteer representatives" and people objected to the word representatives and it was requested that the word be dropped.

Under Communication, #1, I was opposed to even having this section in the operating plan because the only person I know who brings communication gear that would fall under the scope of this section doesn't want his personal equipment to be mentioned in the operating plan. Tom Florich said someone on one of the conference calls earlier in the year had requested this be part of the operating plan. Some gatherers in the councils on the land also said there was nothing in there specifying anything specific. I asked a number of times if this section could be removed, but because gatherers were not united behind this idea, the USFS didn't take it out.

I never saw the final, final version, but have requested an electronic copy from Tom Florich who was our liaison with the USFS on this process. Once I get that I will distribute it widely.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Associated Press in Wyoming

I just spoke with Ben Neary, the reporter from the Associated Press in Cheyenne, Wyoming. If the 800 number doesn't work for you, try 307-632-9351. At this point he's trying to collect names and numbers of witnesses to the July 3rd incident, but won't be writing anything else until after the Wyoming ACLU releases their report on the matter so if you just email him a brief statment with your contact info, he will get back to you at some point in the future.

If you were a witness to the event that took place in Kiddie Village on July 3rd, please contact the Wyoming ACLU. 307-637-4565, Wyoming ACLU, PO Box 20706, Cheyenne, WY 82003 or and have your story included in their report.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 10 Legal Eagle Press Piece on July 3rd Incident

***Thanks to the awesome family doing media work this year - this is an excellant piece****


Public List


Feds attempt to incite another riot

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyo (July 10, 2008) – Federal Law Enforcement Officers ("LEOs") of the United States Forest Service (USFS) committed multiple acts of violence against campers, their children and their dogs at the Annual Rainbow Gathering being held in the woods near Big Sandy, which unofficially ends today. The gatherers' entire purpose in assembling is to silently pray for world peace on the Fourth of July. The harassment included multiple tasering incidents, writing hundreds of tickets, searching many gatherer's vehicles, kicking sunbathers awake to search them for guns and poking into people's tents. The harassment culminated in an attack of 50-60 rounds of pepper ball bullets being shot both indiscriminately and specifically at campers in the Gathering's Kiddie Village (KV), a camp where children play gently and joyfully all day. This incident took place at dinner time while campers were praying before their meal.

At 12:00 pm on July 3, phalanxes of LEOs equipped with sidearms, tasers, pepper spray bullet rifles, mace, nightsticks and wearing bulletproof vests entered camp in flanking military formation. Throughout the day they swept through the site rousing people from their tents, handcuffing and searching them, writing many tickets for minor infractions and answering most people's concerned questions with silence. Gatherers with cameras kept watch of their movements from a good distance. A trombonist provided musical accompaniment for part of the way.

Around 6:00 PM, dinnertime in the main meadow was starting. As gatherers prayed before their meal, they witnessed officers moving towards KV. Moments later, main meadow gatherers heard the call "fire at KV" and saw smoke coming from the camp.They sprung into action grabbing buckets of water, responding to the call. They soon found out the smoke was really a cloud of pepper spray.

Meanwhile at KV officers invaded KV's kitchen, charged through it's food preparation area, tackled an approximately 50-year old man and apprehended him. When parents moved to shield their children from the officers with tasers and pepper ball rifles now drawn, shots were fired towards the ground. The LEOs continued to aim at gatherers who sat, prayed and calmly and repeatedly asked them to leave. One gatherer explained to the officers, "Kids are here, this is Kiddie Village, everything is fine." Others pleaded, "Please get your guns out of Kiddie Village," and reminded the officers, "We mean you no harm." The LEOs would not leave.

One woman begged the officers to say why they were arresting the man. A LEO pulled her to the ground by her hair while she was holding her dog, and she was also apprehended. The officers moved the woman in a direction away from the Gathering exit, to an area out of view of witnesses. Gatherers needed to keep witness to her and her dog's mistreatment, so they moved closer. Officers opened fire once again, this time striking people.

Gatherers with buckets of water arrived on the scene, and upon witnessing this violence realized that the call, "fire in Kiddie Village" was a different call, "Shots fired in Kiddie Village." They didn't know if they had come upon real ammunition being fired in a camp that had always been a safe haven for children, or what was going on. Upon hearing shouts such as, "Terrorists!" and "You're shooting at children," they became upset and tried to escort the LEOs quickly away from the children and onto the trail leading out of the Gathering, determined to protect the children. The LEOs would not cooperate and maintained position.

Officer Lampy (of the USFS) pointed out her non-violent targets to a LEO armed with a pepper ball rifle, who obeyed and fired. Multiple rounds of pepper ball bullets were fired indiscriminately as well. Pepper spray hit babies; the air in KV was thick with the irritant. Most people in KV were affected by the spay and suffered symptoms including respiratory distress, temporary blindness and breaks in skin integrity such as burns, bruises and welts. Nurse Practitioner Jane Albert said, "Many children were visibly upset, crying hysterically and had to be calmed down."

"The police then fired shots and hit a child, before turning to fire upon another man carrying a child on his back. The man went down and the child fell," explained witness Jeff Bender. "Both myself and my dog were shot repeatedly," said another witness named Michael. -Pissed Off Former Democrat Blog, July 9, 2008.

Peacekeepers tried to keep a safe distance between the LEOs and confused and agitated volunteers who'd just run all the way up from main circle with buckets of water. The peacekeepers held their arms out wide, walked backwards with their backs to the officers, close to the main meadow volunteers, and called out orders such as "Stay peaceful, people!" The "safe distance" was not safe enough for the satisfaction of the officers who continued firing aimlessly. While the peacekeepers reminded people that we are all peacekeepers, they were then specifically and deliberately struck by the LEOs with pepper ball bullets. One peacekeeper was shot in the back eight times. He turned around and asked, "Why did you shoot me? I'm trying to help you!" He was then shot three more times.

Long time gatherer David Alexander English guided the officers towards a short cut out of the Gathering which they eventually used. "We're making a left," he said calmly. A LEO pointed a taser with an aiming laser at English's face from three feet away and warned, "Come any closer and I'll shoot you!" English responded, "Dude, I'm trying to lead you out." The officer said, "Oh, okay." English later reflected, "It was a really heated moment." Another woman was held while she was maced in her face.

More rifles were pointed deliberately and directly at children and a baby. One gatherer reported that on the LEOs' way out, they shot up a camp on the road, sending "vets scattering into the woods for safety!" -Wyoming Gathering 2008 Blog, July 4, 2008. Reinforcement officers also did not hesitate to point their assault rifles at the campers. The LEOs left with their arrestees. The gatherers collected information, wrote depositions, and then shook it off and had a great and spirited Fourth of July.

It has been printed widely that 400 gatherers threw "rocks and sticks" after LEOs arrested someone at main meadow, that a government vehicle was damaged and that an officer was injured. There were about 100-200 gatherers present at the height of the incident, no LEO incidents took place at main meadow this year, no government vehicle was damaged and no officer was hurt. Video shot from the beginning of the incident on through has already left the Gathering, and will clearly show whether any rocks or sticks were thrown; not one gatherer said they witnessed anything being thrown.

Smears in the press regarding the "rocks and sticks" accusation were rampant and went as far as one headline stating "...Forest Service officials stoned by hippie group..." -World Net Daily, July 7, 2008.

USFS Law Enforcement and Investigations director John C. Twiss contradicted the release sent by his own agency by saying, "About 70 people were yelling profanities," and said "no officer was hit." -Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 7, 2008.

Twiss added, "They've (Rainbow gatherers) been attracting a different kind of crowd in recent years." -Casper Star Tribune, July 8, 2008. It should be noted that this statement is commonly given by law enforcement agencies right before instigating a non-stop campaign of continuous police presence and harassment towards any number of events they wish to squelch.

Twiss ended by stating, "When you're throwing a rock at somebody's head, you're potentially looking at hurting somebody seriously or killing them. Our officers certainly could have been looking at using deadly force, but they didn't." -Casper Star Tribune, July 8, 2008.

In fact, officers already used deadly force when they struck at least three peaceful gatherers in the face, "at somebody's head," with pepper ball bullets shooting from rifles at a much higher velocity than any arm could ever throw. One witness reported that a peacekeeper "was shot six times in the back (no wounds in the front!) one shot went through his arm entering his bare tricep and exiting his bicep leaving two holes with blood pouring out the entrance wound in the back and the exit wound in the front requiring on site medical and bandaging." -Wyoming Gathering 2008 Blog, July 4, 2008. Many other gatherers were also hit in the back and front repeatedly; photos were taken of one individual who had 11 pepper ball welts.

Gatherers reported being tasered on their way in to help set up the Gathering prior to June 24. On the July 3 "The Rule of Law" radio program, a gatherer named Rob reported live via a satellite phone belonging to the show's co-producer, that they (the USFS) "tasered and assaulted a guy last night (July 2)...Multiple officers tasered him. We spent the entire morning trying to figure out what jail they took him to because they don't really want to tell us anything. They supposedly tasered somebody else again this morning. We're still trying to verify that one." The USFS also refused to answer questions from the press regarding the whereabouts and status of arrestees. Agency spokeswoman Rita Vollmer stated, "we're not releasing that information. It's sensitive information for investigations. They're still in custody."-Billings Gazette, July 6, 2008.

Another taser incident happened on July 2 around 2:00 PM when the 50 year old passenger of a vehicle moving between parking spaces was dragged out of the car, tasered repeatedly, handcuffed and then tasered some more. There is footage of this incident.

Also on July 2, yet another taser incident was reported by the clerk of the federal court in Casper. "'One defendant on Wednesday apparently got out of hand and was subdued with a Taser,' she said." -Casper Star Tribune, July 5, 2008.

Even more witness accounts of harassment were reported. If drivers forgot to use their wipers before being stopped by officers, they received tickets for having dusty windshields. A couple returning from town counted 20 LEOs along a 4 mile stretch of road. Almost every officer they saw had at least one vehicle pulled over each with all of its occupants outside. There were also reports of tainted dog food being deliberately left on trails for babies and pets to get into. This atrocious act resulted in the death of one dog.

Many gatherers were upset to see such provocative violence occur in, of all places, the sanctuary of Kiddie Village, and at such a time as dinner prayer on the eve of the gatherers' annual day of prayer. Immediately following the KV incident, witnesses called in to the live radio program from the Gathering and gave their reports. Rainbow gathering supporter Dan from Illinois reacted upon hearing the reports from the Gathering streaming in: "If you can disrupt prayer, you can disrupt mankind. These demons (LEOs in parking lot) high-fiving each other, it just brings tears to my eyes. What is going on in this country?"

But most gatherers weren't surprised; they'd been through this before.

A year earlier, also on July 3 at dinnertime at the Annual Rainbow Gathering in Arkansas, USFS LEOs drove multiple sports utility vehicles into main meadow which is the heart of the gathering and also a strictly spiritual area like KV where violence is absolutely not tolerated. They parked in the middle of the river that ran through the meadow and again made a scene by making arrests and tasering a man in the back. They remained parked in the main meadow; when they became impatient that a sizable crowd still had not formed, they proceeded to repeatedly blare their sirens which instantly drew a crowd and a loud reaction. They attempted to instigate a violent reaction from one of the Rainbow gatherers by holding their position, waving their rifles around and waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, the LEOs left. The entire riverbed was lined with rocks. Video of this incident is enclosed with this release.

Although Wyoming gatherers were upset with the LEOs' behavior, many expected this show of force, recognized its pattern, and kept cool. They know the USFS is trying to get a rise out of the gatherers, so in return, the gatherers give them the exact opposite response; non-violence. Some gatherers who were at the scene know the purpose of these intimidation tactics; the USFS indeed carries out regular training exercises on the Rainbow gatherers.

In U.S. v. Wirtshafter (July 5, 2007), FS officer Gene Smithson gave sworn testimony that crowd control training is done at Rainbow Gatherings. Smithson identified himself as "Special Agent with the U.S. Forest Service currently assigned as an Incident Commander (of the Incident Command Team)," and during cross examination, when asked if there is any ongoing training that officers receive in crowd control, Smithson answered, "Every year we are -- we are going to be recertified in it." When asked if "they are receiving training credits for being out here (at the Rainbow Gathering) this week?" Smithson answered, "Every officer on the team."

Smithson was then asked, "Can you describe a little bit about the training that officers are receiving while they are here at the Rainbow gathering?" Smithson answered while still under oath, "Basically they have received training in formations and how to protect themselves, how to dissipate crowds, how to deal with crowds."

The Associated Press reported that "in 1998, the Forest Service established a national response team (the Incident Command Team) to deal with the group." -Houston Chronicle, July 5, 2008. The Rainbow gatherers have had and continue to have enormous success in self governing, far surpassing the invention and/or need for any governmental "national response team," especially one staffed by LEOs. The "Incident Command Team" (ICT) succeeds in "commanding" its officers to create an "incident" far from the public eye, which then forms a crowd. Then the "team" attempts to incite the crowd to riot, with the hopes that it will so that the team can "respond" by getting a chance to practice "how to dissipate crowds," all with the intent to train on easy, non-violent targets relaxing in the woods.

Another long-time Rainbow gatherer named Jasmine expressed, "The USFS has been trying to intimidate us since day one. Now with the creation of the ICT, supposedly under the USFS, the harassment has gotten worse. Still their tactics haven't worked, as we continue to exercise our First Amendment right to peaceably assemble on public lands. It seems that finally their behavior and the validity of the ICT as an organization of 'responders' is being brought into question in the public court."

Regarding the ICT's training exercises being carried out on Rainbow gatherers, she exclaimed, "We are not lab rats! We are a peaceful people with over 36 years experience holding gatherings completely on our own, and we wish to keep it that way. We want this harassment to end now. Not one more cent of taxpayers' dollars should be spent on funding policing of a self policing event." Jasmine ended by stating, "Instead, the LEOs involved in this harassment should receive felony convictions in federal court on counts of inciting a riot, assault and battery, child abuse, reckless endangerment, child endangerment, false arrest, infringing on civil liberties, and animal cruelty, to name a few."

Tomorrow cleanup will start, yet harassment towards gatherers often continues when they're in small numbers; less witnesses. Reports have come in that subsequent arrests are being made days after the KV incident, in which people are being ordered by USFS LEOs to "lift up your shirt" and anyone with a pepper ball welt on their skin or traces of pepper spray on them is being apprehended.

Travel advisory for getting to and around camp: most of the Gathering is a hike from the parking lot. To get there you will need to park and then walk about 1-3 miles, so be prepared with good shoes, water bottle, etc. The shortest trail into the site is from the "Middle Back Gate Bus Village Parking Lot." You will find there are many gatherers who love interacting with the media and will gladly be filmed. But in respect for people's freedom of religious expression, it is requested that anyone taking photographs or film images first ask permission from each individual to be included in the shot.


Directions to the Wyoming Gathering

Footage of USFS' Attempt to Incite Riot, July 3, 2007 at Annual Rainbow Gathering in Arkansas
First link contains arrest, quiet part, sirens at main meadow, reaction. Plays audio only; video peculiarly missing as of this press release
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

U.S. v. Wirtshafter transcript of Motion to Suppress Hearing, July 5, 2007

"Rainbow Family & Christians Unite to Give Hope After Katrina" film

"Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents" film

"The Rule of Law" radio program, July 3, 2008
Hour One
Hour Two

FS Taser purchase document

Additional video evidence of the USFS's harassment campaign against Rainbow Gatherings can be made available to the press.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shanti Sena (Peace Keepers) PEACE WINS!

My goal in Wyoming for Shanti Sena was to do basic workshops/circles every day at Dinner Circle. Due to my involvement with the Front Gate and a lot of Cop Walks, I didn't achieve a nightly Shanti Sena workshop as I didn't make it to Dinner Circle that often, but the Shanti Sena workshop did happen a few times. In each case, I announced the workshop/circle while people were eating and we circled in the meadow and talked about each person's experience with Shanti Sena and how different techniques may help a situation.

For those of you who missed the workshops, here is a short version of what we covered.

Q. How high is too high?
A. We need to look out for our family who may be high and wandering about alone. The Wyoming Gathering was cold at night and it was easy to get lost in the woods. A high lost person can get hypothermia easily and die. So when you see someone who seems to be too high and unable to make good decisions about their safety, either hang with them or get them to a kitchen where the person can hang around a campfire until they are a bit more focused.
Sometimes people need to be restrained lovingly so they don't dance in the fire, jump off boulders and crash through people's tarps, or harm themselves in some way. NEVER DUCT TAPE ANYONE. Hold people down with strong and loving arms in the least restrictive manner possible.

Q. Neighborhood disputes
A. When you're camped in your camp and you notice some of your neighbors not getting along, take the time to talk to first one and then the other separately, find out what the issues are and see if you can come up with a solution that meets the needs of everyone. Don't wait until the screaming and yelling starts. However, once that happens, trying Oming. Oming is a general purpose calmer for a variety of situations. I have been in many situations where Oming made the yellers realize how silly they were being. When in doubt, Om. The more people who Om the better. Sitting down and Oming is less confrontational.

Q. Radios
A. Having a radio doesn't mean a person has a clue. Don't put all your trust in people with radios just because they have a radio. Some people with radios are experienced in Shanti Sena, some are not. If in doubt, go to INFO or CALM with a major problem.

Q. Cop Watch
A. See the long post I wrote a few months back on Cop Watch. READ IT! That being said, here's the short hand version. NEVER CIRCLE THE COPS. Give them a way out of every situation. A scared cop shoots. Get people to sit down and OM. Oming de-escalates the situation. Keep your back to the cops and back our family up (some of us aren't as good at the peace vibe as others). DON'T YELL! Keep the video cameras rolling. Be the peace we want to see in this world. Don't interfere with their arrests. One or two people taken to jail can be dealt with by lawyers. Keeping the peace will minimize the arrests.

Q. Lost Kids
A. If your kid is lost, get to a person with a radio and get a description out ASAP. If you find a lost kid, take her/him to Kid Village.

Q. Keeping the Peace
A. Walking. Walk the gathering every day and observe what is where, stop at all the camps and kitchens and talk to people. Get to know what areas may be a bit sketchy before a problem erupts. Prevention is the best medicine. Walk the gathering at night looking for family who may need some gentle nudging to get them to a kitchen with a campfire and some good music. Come to Shanti Sena Councils/Circles/Workshops so you can meet other people. When a situation erupts, it's awesome to know who you're working with.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Front Gate Fun & Friends

So when I arrived at the gathering the night of June 19th, the Front Gate was a blue tarp tipee and a bunch of guys I know including Plunker, Quiet and Kudzo (sp). I felt doubly blessed to see Quiet because I think of him as my baby - he learned to hold the gate with me doing Welcome Home at the Full Moon Circles in San Diego going back to the mid-nineties. Always a brother you can count on!

The brothers held the gate, greeting people with information on parking, cop movies and how to not get pulled over. And it was alcohol and spange free!

The Front Gate was on BLM land and subject to a fourteen day camping limit. Plunker had set up his vehicle and considered the camp his camp but needed someone to "camp" there after his fourteen days were up, so my trusty 1956 Ford Step Van took over. The hard working crew built a tarp structure using my van as a foundation and from then on, I became one of the "happy shiny" people at the Front Gate. I alternated nights in my tent by Oji Kitchen with nights at the Front Gate. The core crew was Quiet, Red, Blue, Stale Fish and Chris and these are the best brothers I've ever hung with at a Rainbow Gathering - you guys rock!!!!! And the sisters - Susan, Ellen and a bunch whose names I don't remember - WOW! Working front gate with sisters is the bomb.

We had a fire pit and once it was dark, encouraged people to camp with us for the night before heading into the gathering. Many nights we had a wonderful bunch of happy hippies, singing songs, or talking about road trips and gatherings past and always shouting out "Welcome Home" and "We Love You" while those that had been hanging around for a while shared the 411 on danglies from rear view mirrors (illegal and used as an excuse by the LEOs to pull you over) and the monumental importance of using turn signals even when there was no one to signal for. We also shared info on the various parking lots and access points to the gathering.

I never made it past 2:30 AM before crashing in my comfy bed in my van, but the rest of the crew held it until dawn night after night after night - and shuttled people up and down the road besides. I bow down to you!

Having a alcohol free gate was a major accomplishment and thank you family for doing it. I hope this is a new tradition that carries forward to New Mexico and beyond. Love and hugs family. Love and hugs.

Generations Holding Hands, A Strong Family Makes

This year's theme was bridging generation gaps and learning how to meet the needs of all generations of family. Plunker's swan song hipstory that went on for hours in a cold mosquito infested meadow was followed by Garrick's recounting of the Grandfather David's epic speech in the heat in the 1970s. And so the torch is passed and at the time I felt like the bus had left me on the side of the road with one piece of luggage and no direction.

And then Vermin Supreme changed everything with the soon to be legandary "Donughts for Death Camp" movie. I missed experiencing this stroke of genus first hand, but heard about it from the mouth of the supreme one himself. In a nutshell, Death Camp is a family whose parents provide minimal guidance or supervision to their children and the kids dedicate themselves to outrageous behavior just to gain the attention of someone. A lot of this behavior was verbally or physically violent this year, but all attempts to bridge the generation gap failed. Of course it's hard to have a conversation with a nine year old who just called you a F%#(* and a B%#* and a C@&$^ and every other word that was invented to belittle another human being.

Vermin and some other folks took donughts and hung out and that is the beauty of this idea. It's simple. Food and people hanging out. Now I'm not claiming it turned the Death Camp scene into a Mister Rogers campout, but it was a critical step.

Our incredible Rainbow family is filled with people who have dug shitters, chopped wood, healed the body and mind, and parked cars for years and in the process have filled their brains with a bounty of Rainbow wisdom and now their bodies are weary. So I'm asking you, the earlies as Plunker says, to share your minds by leaving your comfortable chairs at Loven Ovens and Montana Camp and spending a few hours a day hanging out with your younger brothers and sisters at Shut Up and Eat It, Mence to Sobriety, Phat Kids and Trade Circle. Bring some donoughts, chocolate bars or fruit and just hang out and LISTEN to what the kids have to say. They don't need elders, but they do need someone to hear their dreams and concerns and maybe offer a small suggestion from time to time or some sugar for zuzus.

And so the generations will unfold one hand clasping one hand until a strong chain is formed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pinedale Paper looking for Eyewitness Accounts of July 3 Incident

***Forwarded Message***
Hello all ...

I am a reporter for the Pinedale Roundup newspaper and I am in the process of working on an article regarding the treatment of the Rainbows during the July 3 pepper bullet incident and the ACLU?s investigation. If any of you would like to share your thoughts or eyewitness accounts of what happened, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you much. Please email me.


Back in San Diego

Finally made it home yesterday. Lot's of stuff to report on but today I'm exhausted and trying to unload and cleanup. I'll be writing up my thoughts on Front Gate, the Operating Plan, Shanti Sena and more - to me this gathering was about the changing of the guard and the generation gap. Stay tuned for my thoughts on these and other matters. To everyone I met in Wyoming, I LOVE YOU! To those who missed the gathering, next year in New Mexico! Here's a photo of me at INFO with my "blue teddy" (thanks to Dawn of the Pinedale Online).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July 3rd Incident & Stuck in Mesquite, Nevada

I'm enroute to my home in San Diego in a 1956 Ford Stepvan. It's 113 today and too hot to drive.
So we're hold up in a motel room and I'm checking email, etc.

As far as the incident in Kid Village on July 3rd, I was not an eye witness so will leave others to tell their stories. That being said, one of the brothers who was there will be meeting with staffers of congressional representatives on July 15 to show video of the event and review eye witness accounts with the hopes of asking Congress to hold a hearing.

To that end, if you have an eye witness statement, please email me a complete statement of what you witnessed along with your legal name, phone number and address. If you have video or still photography of the incident, I will have an ftp site setup in a day or two or email me links from You Tube.

Just a reminder family, never circle the cops. Sit down and OM!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Did You Witness the Kiddie Village Incident?

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to
investigate how federal law enforcement officers
treated members of the Rainbow Family during their
annual gathering this year in western Wyoming.

If you were a witness to the event that took place
in Kiddie Village on July 3rd, please contact the
Wyoming ACLU. Their contact info is on the top
right corner of their webpage which can be found

They say they will be taking collect calls for the
next two weeks from witnesses.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Incident with LEOs at Kiddie Village

It seems that an incident took place on the late afternoon of July 3rd, on site at Kiddie Village
involving the arrest of some Rainbow Folks, the law enforcement officers being surrounded by an Om Circle, and then the firing into the crowd by LEOs of some sort of projectiles while the LEOs exited the site.

This information was gathered from an Internet radio show called We The People Radio Network. The show can be found here:

The show has a pair of co-hosts, one in the studio and one calling in from on site. The show is
broken up into two parts, Hour 1 and Hour 2.

12 minutes into Hour 1 you can hear Rob Savoye telling the studio co-host about a tasering
incident on the road when he actually gets the call that there is a "riot" going on at Kiddie
Village and he leaves the satellite phone.

The on site co-host seems to follow him to KV as the show moves to another topic for awhile. Later in Hour 1, they cut back to the on site co-host who is handing the phone off to witnesses of the event who tell what they experienced. Hour 2 has quite a few witnesses talking about what they saw.

The gist of the event seems to be that an arrest of between 3 and 5 people was happening near or in Kiddie Village just before dinner circle. Rainbow folks came and surrounded the arresting officers who began to feel threatened. More and more Rainbows arrived at the incident as word spread.

In an attempt to exit with their arrested people, they first began shooting into the ground with
what appeared to be machine guns (but were not). When people began putting themselves between the officers and where the kids were, and did not back down or disperse, the LEOs began shooting into the arms and chests of the Rainbows. They did this as they exited up the hill, and down a path off site.

It is not clear what, exactly, was being shot from those guns. It has been described as "pepper spray pellets" and also as "rubber bullets".

In the Forest Service press release, it is stated that Rainbows first began throwing rocks and
sticks at the officers. Their statement can be found here:

There was apparently lots of video taken of the incident and names and statements of witnesses are being collected.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Photos From Wyoming

Thought you all might want to see some great
pictures of the Wyoming Gathering. The Pinedale
Online Website is doing a great job reporting on
the Gathering and lots of pictures can be found at
this link...

Scroll down to see even more once you get there,
and click on them to make them larger! I even see
a picture there of Karin, the creator of this
blog! If you find any more links to great pics of
this years Gathering, please feel free to add them
to the comment section of this post!