General Comments


Need for Law Enforcement at Rainbow Family Gatherings.

Approximately 25 respondents commented that law enforcement at Rainbow Family Gatherings is unnecessary. These respondents stated that there are no threatening incidents at Rainbow Family Gatherings; that Rainbow Family members police themselves; that Rainbow Family members always comply with Forest Service regulations; that all serious problems and violent individuals are brought to the attention of local law enforcement; that Rainbow Family Gatherings have posed fewer security problems than other gatherings of equivalent size; that there are a smaller number of incidents each year; that no drug use was observed at the 1993 Gathering in Alabama; and that unlike uses of public streets or public property in a city, which have impacts on traffic, parking, and neighborhoods and require law enforcement services, group uses of National Forest System lands have no impacts on public facilities and do not require law enforcement services.

In contrast, one respondent acknowledged that Rainbow Family Gatherings attract some people who are not responsible. Several respondents noted that there has been public nudity at the Gatherings. Citing use of marijuana and psychedelics, one respondent noted that the actions of many Rainbow Family members are illegal under present drug laws. Two others noted the use of drugs by some members of the Rainbow Family. One respondent also noted the use of alcohol at Rainbow Family Gatherings.


The Department disagrees that law enforcement at Rainbow Family Gatherings is unnecessary.

Most Rainbow Family members who gather on national forests are peaceful and lawabiding. As several respondents noted, however, the annual Gatherings attract some who are not.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not condoned by the Rainbow Family and is discouraged within the main Gathering. A separate camp, known as ``A'' Camp, is usually set up along the access route to the main Gathering for those who drink alcoholic beverages. ``A'' camp has been a problem at several Rainbow Family Gatherings because of its location. ``A'' Camp gatherers have panhandled, extorted money, and confiscated liquor from people entering the Gathering. Gatherers at ``A'' Camp also have harassed law enforcement officers and Forest Service personnel.

Forest Service and local law enforcement officers issue a sizeable number of citations for various violations of federal and local law at Rainbow Family Gatherings. For instance, at the 1987 Gathering, there were 311 violations, including citations for driving violations, resource violations, public nudity, impeding traffic, public nuisance, and interfering with an officer. After the Gathering, marijuana plants sprouted where the soil had been dug up by members of the Rainbow Family to plant flowers. Within three weeks after the Gathering, the Forest Service found seventeen marijuana plants approximately one to two feet tall growing from seeds scattered from the handling of marijuana. Possession of marijuana is a violation of federal law. See 21 U.S.C. 844.

At the 1991 Gathering, the Forest Service issued 69 notices for ten different violations, including camping in a restricted area, public nudity, parking in violation of instructions, operating a vehicle recklessly, failing to stop for an officer, operating off road carelessly, occupying a day use area, parking in other than designated areas, operating a vehicle off road, and giving false information. Two Rainbow Family members were arrested on drug charges, one for possession and the other for sale of LSD.

The Forest Service's non-environmental concerns were met with resistance at the 1992 Gathering. For example, 20 to 30 Rainbow Family members staged a civil disobedience protest of a Forest Service order closing an area to camping and parking because of safety risks (the area was located on a timber haul route) and commitments made to other users (livestock was scheduled to use the area). Gatherers gradually removed vehicles from the area, but the agency had to tow five from the site.

During the 1992 Gathering, there were 43 arrests of Rainbow Family members on nine different charges, including use of a controlled substance, child abuse, traffic violations, theft, disorderly conduct and harassment, disorderly conduct and possession of a concealed weapon, motor vehicle theft, a wildlife violation, and existence of outstanding warrants.

By comparison, there were 82 arrests of non-Rainbow Family members during the period of the Gathering in the county where the Gathering was held, and 81 during that same period in the previous year. Thus, there was more than a 50 percent increase in the number of arrests in the county during that period, due solely to the presence of the Rainbow Family.

Government's Intent

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