PRESS RELEASE: Rainbow Seed Camp Underway in New Mexico


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Federal Law Enforcement Takes Heavy Hand

Santa Fe National Forest, NM (June 18th, 2009) – This year’s annual Rainbow Gathering will be held in the Parque Venado area of one of New Mexico’s many breathtaking National Forests from July 1 through 7, 2009. Clean-up runs from July 8 to completion. Seed camp has begun, with volunteers setting up for the gathering. They are clearing open land of debris for parking, setting up trails, and constructing bridges. A temporary village is being built amid the trees, Swiss Family Robinson-style. Each carload arrives bringing fresh volunteers and the gathering grows organically.

The annual reunion is a cost-free, rustic, back-to-nature encampment held in a different National Forest across the nation every summer, culminating in a massive silent prayer for world peace on July 4th. Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 peaceful people will gather to practice peace, from babies to veterans of wars dating as far back as Korea, and from vacationing professionals to adventurous backpackers, bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the small rural communities surrounding the gathering site.

On the trail, people with huge bundles, looking like a parade of ants, carry things like drums, banners, flags, tents, and tarps. Camps and kitchens such as Tipi Village, Handicamp, Milliways, and Fat Kids have arrived. On their breaks, volunteers are served hearty meals like baked beans and cheese from Montana Mud and fettuccine alfredo from the American Rainbow Rapid Response team. They are a group of relief workers formed after they  transported and staffed Rainbow-style mobile kitchens which aided fellow citizens ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. They learned almost all of their skills from volunteering at Rainbow gatherings.  A ten-pallet food order is being coordinated through La Montanita Co-op, the People’s Coop of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

One good project of the Forest Service (FS) is their effort to restock a lake with an endangered fish in a wilderness area, and trying to figure out how Rainbow volunteers may aid in that effort. The Rainbow gatherers are very willing to lend a hand and have a long history of working with different governmental agencies. For example, while setting up Tipi Village this year, gatherers came upon a previously undiscovered archaeological site, informed the local resource rangers and the area was properly marked and roped off. The FS archaeologist seemed thankful for the find.


Cooperation between government officials and Rainbow gatherers has, however, become strained in recent years, often due to the conflicting agendas of the resource-protection and law-enforcement divisions of the FS. District rangers are repeatedly impressed with the gatherers’ respect for the chosen site – often cattle-grazing areas – and the intensive cleanup that follows. But the agency’s Incident Command Team overrides the resource division’s authority, turning the Gathering into a law-enforcement exercise and racking up millions of dollars in expenses every year.

The FS permit was signed by someone still unknown to the Rainbow gatherers as of this press release. Gatherers were threatened with force if they didn’t sign. Restricting people from peaceably assembling on public land contradicts the First Amendment, putting the FS in violation of the law and the Constitution of the United States. The signed permit makes the Gathering “legal” in the eyes of the law enforcement division of the FS, but even that is not enough for them. They have started acting on their threat of force in spite of the permit, beginning with an illegal roadblock. This contradicts the Fourth Amendment, again putting the FS in violation of the law and Constitution. Yet the Gatherers are made to look like the criminals.

In late morning on June 15th, a roadblock was discovered three miles from the Gathering on Route 69, staffed by two regional FS officers, a male and female. Two law enforcement vehicles faced each other on opposite sides of the road about twenty feet apart, one with its door ajar. Drivers had to pass carefully to get through. The law enforcement officers (LEO)s had pulled two cars over. A woman looking distraught stood outside one of the cars. The female LEO put on black gloves as a witness drove by slowly. One officer smirked at a gatherer, held up two fingers and said ominously, “Two-more-days.” Harassment by regional FS officers continued on the 16th and by the next day, a team of Federal officers from around the nation had arrived on schedule.

At night, ten to twelve LEOs moved through the encampment shining bright flashlights into peoples’ eyes. When asked why this was being done, sometimes the answer was “Shut up!” Only once did an officer say they were looking for someone. When they were asked “Who?” another officer replied, “It’s none of your business.” When an individual came over to them to ask what was going on, LEOs aimed their pepper ball rifles and commanded the person to back off. People were terrified.

More examples of the many incidents of police harassment that have occurred in the past two days include:

• A group of 10 LEOs walked through the parking lot and searched an unattended vehicle. They found nothing.

• Two LEO vehicles sped at an estimated 45 mph through a populated area of the road with their lights twirling. They stopped, quickly exited their vehicles, told campers that their area was “dirty” and ordered them to clean it up immediately. The frightened campers began straightening up the area and the officers left. The exact same thing happened at the Welcome Home camp by the road at the annual Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming last year.

• One gatherer was stopped at a checkpoint three times. He never received a ticket or a warning. He said he was undeterred and had just taken to driving the road with his license, registration and insurance card in his lap.

In contrast to the FS law enforcement behavior, the FS resource personnel have been friendly and welcoming, and the Sandoval County Sheriffs Department and State Patrol are acting polite. Gatherers see no need for a Federal police presence; the gatherers have provided their own security for the event for over 37 years, and also successfully maintain their own parking, communications, water, fire patrol, sanitation systems and community health. When law enforcement agencies are insistent on policing the event, it is preferable for gatherers and law enforcement to work together on issues of mutual concern, and to establish common ground. The FS LEOs have made no working connections with the Rainbow volunteers.

At a town meeting in Cuba, the closest town to the Gathering, local residents and Rainbow attendees had a meet-and-greet. FS resource personnel presented a slide show on the ’95 annual Rainbow Gathering in New Mexico, praising how well the Rainbow gatherers got along with local residents and cleaned up the site. The Rainbow attendees presented a film entitled, “Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents.”

The packed house applauded at the end. Local residents asked relevant questions. One Gathering attendee advised the local residents to drive carefully and observe all laws because “there’s a new kind of police up those roads that aren’t usually there.” There was another round of applause and thanks for the advisory.

People are disturbed by the LEOs unnecessary show of force because the gatherers’ entire purpose in gathering is to pray for world peace. However, they are enjoying their reunion and look forward to a safe, healthy, and happy gathering.

Travel advisory for getting to camp: Have all paperwork and be sure vehicles are in good repair. Have nothing on the dashboard or hanging from the rearview mirror. Keep windshields and license plates clean, especially when driving on unpaved roads. Obey all traffic laws, watch for stop signs, use turn signals. Follow guidelines of the parking crew who will greet you at the front gate. Pull into the designated Media Parking area and check in. Media is welcome to be escorted through the camp. Tours begin at 12:00 pm daily from the Media Parking area.

Travel advisory for getting around camp: most of the Gathering is a hike from the parking lot. Wear good shoes and bring a large water bottle and a reusable plate and cup to enjoy free food and drink! Throughout the gathering, keep up to date with the latest developments in parking restrictions by checking at the Info booth and Main Circle announcements. 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 ask permission from each individual to be included in the shot.

Directions (from Cuba, NM): Take State Road 126 East for 13 + miles to FS Road 103 on left, go 2 miles to FS Road 69 on left then drive 9 miles to where FS Road 69 meets FS Road 70.

This press release is provided as a service of the Rainbow press crew, a completely unofficial affiliation of volunteers who – like all the other volunteers who work to make the gathering happen in a peaceful manner- have not been authorized by anyone to speak for any Rainbow-related entities or events. Additional press releases are on the Rainbow press crew’s website,

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June 19, 2009. Uncategorized.

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