Stories By My Friends

Hippies Homeland Security Threat

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mass Citations At Rainbow Family Gathering in Colorado

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

Incident Team.

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

constitutional freedoms.

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:


updated: 15 years ago