PRESS RELEASE: Rainbow Gatherers Ordered to Albuquerque for Ticket Hearings Monday

(by friends of Rainbow press crew)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 21, 2009

Rainbow Gatherers Ordered to Albuquerque for Ticket Hearings Monday

Contact:  Garrick Beck, volunteer, (505) 660-8800
John McCall, Attorney at Law, (505) 256-1998

On Monday, over 75 attendees from the Rainbow Gathering are expected to appear in New Mexico Federal Magistrates Court in Albuquerque for mandatory hearings on tickets issued by Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers.  The 75 tickets are primarily for minor traffic and forest use violations.

The imposition of mandatory hearings for minor tickets like “dog off leash” and “failure to use turn signal” (on unpaved roads), is unusual.  In most cases, these types of tickets can be remitted by mail when someone is traveling from out of state.  The requirement of hearings imposes a special burden on gatherers and appears to single them out for harsher treatment under the law than other citizens.  Individuals who receive tickets at or near the gathering not only face potential fines, but are additionally forced to leave an expressive assembly and travel nearly 120 miles from the gathering site near Cuba, NM to appear in court or face possible contempt charges.

According to gatherers, this comes as a slap in the face after several months of successful cooperation between Gathering volunteers and Forest Service resource officials to assure a safe and legal event.  Resource personnel have been extremely positive about the behavior of most gatherers and issued a permit for the event last week.  Then, shortly after the permit was announced, a separate “Incident Command Team” of Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers arrived at the site and began random searches of vehicles and tents and issuing tickets for a variety of alleged violations.

According to gatherers, the Incident Command Team appears to be acting independently to disrupt and intimidate gathering attendees.  Law Enforcement Officers have set-up daily roadblocks on forest roads around the gatherings, conducted random searches of cars and tents, abruptly ordered camps to move after they were approved by Forest Service resource rangers, raided camps at night with dogs, and generally exhibited hostile behavior towards attendees and volunteers.

The Rainbow Gathering is an annual expressive assembly that draws thousands of people to National Forests each year to join together in prayer and celebration to promote peace and harmony on Earth.  Gatherings have occurred since 1972 and have a developed a solid reputation for cleaning up gathering sites before they leave.  The Gathering is free and open to all who come in peace.

A group of volunteer lawyers are gathering to assist the gatherers in dealing with these tickets and to raise protest with the court regarding the oppressive nature of Law Enforcement actions towards the gatherers.  American citizens are being needlessly harassed at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars simply because they are exercising their First Amendment right to gather in the woods and pray for world peace and celebrate humanity.

This press release being forwarded 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, www.rpcnews.us.

Please forward

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June 21, 2009. Uncategorized.

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