Stories By My Friends
Hippies Homeland Security Threat
Thursday, June 29, 2006
A permit for a pilgrimage?
by Karen Kilroy & Alan Canfora
The Rainbow Family, an ad-hoc collective of free-spirited individuals,
has made an annual spiritual pilgrimage since 1972 to various national
forests. This year's Rainbow Family Gathering is outside of Steamboat
Springs, Colorado, and will be held from July 1-7. The National Forest
Service has determined that a permit is required this year and is
arresting people as they arrive. Hundreds of early arrivals have been
arrested, ticketed, held in detention camps, tried in secret inside a
cramped garage without proper representation, fined, and ordered to
leave within 24 hours.
Over the past several days, a federal "National Incident Team" has been
assembled to deny these individuals their constitutional right to
assemble. The line between the power of the state and the federal
government has been compromised, as Colorado State Patrol Troopers,
county sheriffs, and local police have been brought into the National
Why is this the year in which a socially conscious group of people is
being confronted? Why is
the media being fed stories about fire potential, with no mention of the
ongoing battle of the Bush Administration to try to shut down their
right of free assembly?
In response to Hurricane Katrina, Rainbow Family members ran free food
kitchens at which even FEMA personnel ate meals.
Don E. Wirtshafter, an attorney, wrote a plea for help. He suggests
that the Bush Administration wants to make this a precedent to
discourage groups from open assembly without a permit.
What will happen once the expected 20,000 participants start to arrive
at the meeting ground? Many of them will not know what is going to await
them because they are generally not a cell-phone/e-mail culture. Many
have spent the last weeks hitchhiking to the site or nursing along a car
that breaks down every few miles, held together by duct tape. This is
their spiritual gathering. They use any peaceful means to get there.
Will they just "go away"? According to a website that allows the Rainbow
Family to share messages, it doesn't look like it."*Ignore all rumors of
cancellation or organization! Live Lightly with the Land and People*" is
the prominent message posted on the site.
There has already been an incident (ABC News, Denver, Colorado)
in which about 200 people encircled a
police checkpoint, armed with sticks and rocks. The Forest Service drew
their weapons, but retreated.
The gathering is being held in a meadow with only one road out. The
media has been given word that the reason they cannot assemble is
because of potential for fire. This is another distortion of facts. For
years now, the Rainbow tribe has waged an ongoing legal battle to defend
Attorney Wirtshafter requests that you call your congressperson now and
alert them to this situation. Ask them to get the Administration to stop
violating the constitutional rights of the Rainbow Gathering participants.
The U.S. Government should make serious efforts to avoid, not provoke,
another Waco or Kent State incident in our National Forests. In recent
years, the conservative movement has openly declared a culture war
against all remnants of the powerful 1960's movement for peace and
freedom. Progressive activists should take action now and speak out
against this looming dangerous battle in the modern culture war.
Karen Kilroy is a web developer and videographer specializing in
progressive political causes. Alan Canfora is Director of the Kent May 4 Center in Kent, Ohio, and was wounded at
Kent State University on May 4, 1970. For more information on the Rainbow Family, see their
unofficial website: http://www.welcomehome.org/