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Published on Thursday, June 29, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
Hippies Homeland Security Threat
Mass Citations At Rainbow Family Gathering in Colorado
A permit for a pilgrimage?
by Karen Kilroy and 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: http://www.welcomehome.org/


Following are some instructions on who to write and/or call

We hope to start flooding the Department of Agriculture and the 
Forest Service with complaints starting Monday morning and not 
stopping until harassment stops. It is especially important that we 
get a few Congressional representative and Senators concerned enough 
to write the Forest Service for an explanation of why so much money 
is being spent to keep people from camping in the National Forest set 
aside for exactly that purpose.

Please keep the pressure on these bureaucrats until we are able to 
spread the word that the government has backed off and that the 
gathering can proceed unhindered.

If you do not know the contact information for your Congressman or 
Senator, you can find this here. You can call your representative at 
212-224-3121. Besides your representatives in Washington, please call 
and write the following people to voice your protest to this harsh 
treatment of people who just want to go on a camping trip in the 
woods. Keep the calls coming until word is passed around that the 
government has called off their dogs. Please forward this letter to 
your friends and feel free to re-post it on any listserv or website 
you wish. Email me if you have any questions.

Don E Wirtshafter
Attorney at Law
Box 18 Guysville, OH 45735
740 662 5297

USDA, Natural Resources & Environment
Mark Rey, USDA Undersecretary
1400 Independence Ave. SW, .. 217-E
Washington, DC 20250
202-720-7173 Fax: 202-720-0632

Kathleen Gause, Director 202-205-8534
USDA Forest Service
Civil Rights Staff
Stop Code 1142
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington., DC 20250-1142
Tel (202) 205-1585

Office of the Chief
Dale Bosworth, Chief
USDA Forest Service
Yates Federal Building (4NW Yates)
201 14th Street, SW - Washington, DCÊ20250
202-205-1661; Fx: 202-205-1765
Executive Assistant...Karla Hawley, 202 -205-1195

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests,
Mary H. Peterson, Supervisor
2468 Jackson Street -- Laramie, WY 82070-6535
307-745-2300 Fax: 307-745-2398

U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region (R-2)
Rick Cables, Regional Forester
Mail: P.O. Box 25127 -- Lakewood, CO 80225-0127
Richard Stem, Deputy Regional Forester, Resources: 303-275-5451

Steve Silverman, Office of General Counsel, Regional Attorney: 

Bill Fox, Law Enforcement & Investigations, Special Agent in Charge: 

Jerome Romero, Deputy Director of Civil Rights: 303-275-5340

Some resources to research these issues further:

The best Rainbow website:

A good article written before the feds came down hard:

More recent coverage:
http://www.rockymountainnews.com  and


"The whole earth is in jail and we're plotting this incredible jailbreak."
-- Wavy Gravy   (www.wavygravy.net)


Bringing the love 

Rainbow Family members prepare Interdependence Day celebation 

By Alexis DeLaCruz 

Sunday, July 2, 2006 

Instead of shooting off fireworks and grilling hot dogs for the Fourth of
July, members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light plan to form a prayer
circle thousands of people wide and pray for world peace. 

Tivana, a Rainbow member and webmaster from Seattle, explained Saturday that
the tens of thousands of people expected to attend the 34th annual gathering
in Big Red Park, about 35 miles north of Steamboat Springs, have been
settling in and preparing for Tuesday's climactic prayer. 

"Just like any other group, we have holidays and events. We don't call the
Fourth of July ‘Independence Day,' we call it ‘Interdependence Day,'" he
said. "It's a time for thousands of (Rainbow Family members) to be silent
and pray for peace on the planet and for each other and with nature."

The prayer circle, which is scheduled to begin at noon Tuesday, is then
interrupted by a parade of Rainbow Family children, who break the silence of
the group. 

"After the kids come through, we start our celebrations," he said. "It's
very powerful."

Although Tuesday marks the highlight of the weeklong gathering, group
members have been celebrating in the Routt National Forest for weeks. 

Tivana said the infrastructure of the nearly 100 camps that have been set up
provide members with food, entertainment, social opportunities, free
educational workshops and games. 

Professional actors, musicians and artists perform nightly at the Granola
Funk theater, the Kid's Village and other stages. 

"At night there's a lot of drums, entertainment and shows. We tell
Hipstories, instead of histories, where people get together and talk about
their experiences at past gatherings," he said. 

Even though the members spend most of their time helping in the kitchens,
cleaning the woods around them and visiting other camps, most haven't
forgotten what the gathering is all about. 

Hare Krishna head priest Visnave Swami Maharaja, a small man draped in
orange robes and carrying a religious staff, said the reason the group
gathers is love. 

"Love conquers all. I don't think anyone would disagree with that," he said.


The prayer circle is the most important event of the gathering because it is
an opportunity for thousands of people to come together for a single cause,
Visnave Swami Maharaja said. 

"The Ohm Circle is the build-up. We'll have 20,000 from around the world
chanting and trying to heal themselves, heal the world, end the war (in
Iraq), and all the control before we all self-destruct," he said. "It's an
amazing thing."

Hare Krishna camps account for five of about 100 camps, Visnave Swami
Maharaja said. He said the Rainbow Family lifestyle is one that some people
experience every day and that others experience once a year. 

The Hare Krishnas "have renounced and given up everything. We do this 24
hours a day, seven days a week. We break the mold of the material
existence," he said. "Whether you come here once a year or once in your
lifetime, it will affect your life forever and every life you touch."

Glenwood Springs resident Kay Woods said that type of experience is what she
hopes her 6-year-old daughter, Shirah, gains from participating in her first
Rainbow Family gathering.

"I want them to learn tolerance and to be open minded. We live a lifestyle
of diversity, and that's what they get here, only it's more concentrated,"
she said. 

Woods and her children were staying at the gathering Kid's Village, an area
dedicated to providing a safe area for families and children. Rainbow Family
members constructed a swing set, kitchen and teeter-totter out of wood for
the children. 

"I think it's awesome what everyone has done here. It's pretty amazing that
they used the resources available and made something out of nothing," she

Woods said she had no reservations about bringing her children to the
gathering because of the warmth and open hearts the other members have
toward everyone. 

"My kids are very safe here. (Kid's Village) is a very family-oriented camp.
It's very parent-oriented, too, because they have coffee," she said. 

San Diego resident Alex Piña said he helps serve about 4,000 people a day at
Kid's Village. 

On Saturday, several Rainbow Family youth were rolling out dough for
tortillas and making Mexican-style salsa.

"The kids all help around if they can. They like to serve the food and make
it and put it all out," he said. 

Piña has been attending the gatherings for years and was excited to bring
his 2-year-old and 18-month-old children. 

"Every year this gathering gets better. I like to have the Kid's Village
because it keeps them in a safe spot where moms can feel comfortable leaving
their kids for a few hours," he said.



07/02/2006 01:00:00 AM MDT 

denver & the west

Rainbow Family mostly unfazed by wildfire risks

By Steve Lipsher 
Denver Post Staff Writer

Yuriy Rudenko plays with his son Daniel on Saturday at the Rainbow Family
gathering, where Daniel had his face painted. Some 20,000 Rainbows are
expected to hike into the woods for the get-together. (Post / Daniel


Clark - Before the self-appointed fire monitor known as Circus Maximus tells
his fellow Rainbow Family members the bad news that they have to extinguish
their campfires, he often likes to get them high. 

"It takes away a bit of their hostility," he said Saturday, where the annual
Rainbow Family gathering was picking up steam going into the Fourth of July
holiday in the woods north of Steamboat Springs. 

While many of the 20,000 Rainbows expected to show up here are anticipating
fellowship, spiritual revival and harmony, the subject of a fire ban enacted
this week has the potential to boil the blood of even the most serene New

"I get called the Fire Nazi," said Circus Maximus, a veteran of the
gathering who comes from Seattle. "If it's really cold out, I'll give them
hand warmers." 

Although the group's leadership council for years has forbidden individual
campfires by unanimous consent, enforcement falls to the group's few Fire
Nazis and U.S. Forest Service officers, who are viewed with general disdain.


"We're trying to make this work," said Marcia Rose-Ritchie, a forest
resource officer "We know they're going to (have fires) anyway. So we're
trying to make it enforceable." 

A countywide fire ban means only "permitted" kitchen and community fires are
allowed at this gathering, and those must meet strict guidelines that spell
out the depth of fire pits and the lack of branches overhead. 

And if a fire breaks out? 

"We tell them to get to the meadow, and we'll get an evacuation plan,"
Rose-Ritchie said, acknowledging that such an event could be catastrophic. 

Staring at a map of lightning strikes in the region from Friday, Kent
Foster, a Forest Service fire-management officer, said the threat of a
wildfire tearing through the stands of beetle-killed trees is so severe that
he loses sleep at night about it. 

"That's really our concern, is safety," he said as he headed out into Big
Red Park for another day of spreading the word about the fire danger and
evacuation plans. 

A single dirt road, lined on both sides with parked cars, means fire trucks
and rescue equipment can't get into the area, and members of the Rainbow
Family would have trouble getting out quickly if a fire burns out of

As a result, the agency has placed a team of 10 firefighters who rappel from
helicopters on standby at the Steamboat Springs airport. 

The Rainbows, however, are not fazed. 

Twelve years ago, at a gathering in Pinedale, Wyo., the leaderless group
pulled together with bucket brigades and shovels and put out a wildfire that
grew to 8 acres. 

"Most fires are started in places where no one else is around," said a
Rainbow participant who uses the moniker Tender Hawk, as he dug a
grave-sized fire pit. "Here, there are thousands of people around." 

Looking like refugees from the '60s, a stream of hundreds of modern-day
hippies on Saturday continued to lug in camping equipment, organic food and
jester-like diabolos - a bow-tie top spun on a string spanning two sticks -
on the dusty 2-mile trail to the sprawling encampment. 

From aging Deadheads to teenage runaways, new arrivals were met with hugs,
heartfelt greetings of "welcome home" and a poetic couplet reminder: "Loving
you, too/Cover your poo." 

Scattered over six square miles of the forest are hundreds of personal tents
and bigger central camps, ranging from the swing-set-adorned kiddie village
to the barter-only trade village in the bustling "downtown" area, near the
dried-up mud-wrestling pit. 

That water now is being put to more critical use, stored in brimming safety
buckets next to every fire and monitored by the likes of Circus Maximus. 

"These thunderheads roll in every day and drop a whole bunch of lightning
and no rain," he said. "The other night, we had a false alarm ... As soon as
somebody yells 'Fire!' 500 people come running. But at some point, you have
to have faith that the spirit will take care of you." 

A sign at the Rainbows' six-square-mile encampment north of Steamboat
Springs urges members not to antagonize police. (Post / Daniel Zollinger)

Staff writer Steve Lipsher can be reached at 970-513-9495 or




Jul 2, 1:18 AM EDT

Hippie group founder urges suit vs. feds 

Associated Press Writer

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- A founding member of a hippie movement
called the Rainbow Family suggested Saturday that it launch a federal
lawsuit against a growing crackdown on their annual gatherings.

Barry Adams, known in the Rainbow Family as Barry Plunker, told a council
circle at the first day of this year's weeklong gathering at Routt National
Forest that federal pressure has gone too far.

Dozens of Forest Service officers, county deputies and Colorado State Patrol
officers are manning checkpoints and patrolling camps as thousands of
hippies flood the forest about 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs.

Under federal rules, any gathering of more than 74 people in a national
forest requires a permit. Officials have said that in a fire, the narrow
dirt access road would become clogged and campers would be trapped.

The clash between Rainbows and federal officers at national parks has become
such an annual tradition that the Forest Service in 1998 established a
national response team to deal with the group. Members defying federal
orders typically are issued citations for camping illegally.

Rainbows say this year federal officers are issuing hundreds of citations
and set up a makeshift federal courthouse nearby.

"There's only one way to stop these people and that's to take them on,
legally," Adams told about 100 Rainbows at the council circle.

Rainbows say they have no leaders to request permits, and they shouldn't
have to beg to express a constitutional right to freely assemble.

The Forest Service estimated that by Friday night about 6,000 tie-dyed
hippies were camping in makeshift villages. That number swelled dramatically
Saturday, the first official day of the gathering. An updated official
estimate was not available.

Rainbows formed drum circles, exchanged beads, batik and crystals, and lined
up at communal kitchens for meals. Everything is free, from meals to yoga
classes to massage. Hugs are doled out at every turn and members greet each
other by saying, "Welcome home."

Adams, 61, was drifting with a group of fellow hippies in the 1960s after
his service during the Vietnam War when he decided to fulfill a vision of
holding a giant gathering based on peace and love. Since the first Rainbow
Family gathering in Colorado in 1972, he said, the federal government has
denied permits and has done what it could to block the annual gathering.

Adams has spent months in jail for violating assorted bans and has fought
his own cases. 

Traditionally, he said, the Rainbow Family has refused to let itself be
pinned down as an organized group.

On Saturday, he said it's time to realize the government already considers
the Rainbow Family an organized spiritual group. Then Rainbows need to take
advantage of that classification, hire attorneys and demand rights as a
religious organization.

"I never thought there would be a problem with our federal government for us
to go out in the woods and pray," Adams said. "We as a people have rights.
We have a right to free speech."

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