PRESS RELEASE: Third Barrage of Rainbow Gathering Tickets to be Heard Wednesday


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Email: rpcrew1 at
John McCall, Attorney at Law, (505) 256-1998


Forest Service Aim to “Manage and Minimize Social and Political Impacts” Reveals Chilling Effect on First and Fourth Amendment Rights

Albuquerque, NM (June 30, 2009)- On Wednesday, July 1st at 9:00 AM approximately 76 more attendees from the Rainbow Gathering are expected to appear in New Mexico Federal Magistrate Court, 333 Lomas Blvd, Albuquerque for mandatory hearings on tickets issued by United Stated Forest Service (USFS) Law Enforcement Officers. About the same amount of cases were heard at each of the Rainbow gatherers’ court dates held on the past two Mondays, also in Albuquerque. Early reports indicate that most tickets were paid. The tickets are primarily for minor traffic and forest use violations such as “dirty license plate.” Gatherers must travel 240 miles round trip from the Gathering site near Cuba, NM to appear in court or federal warrants are issued for their arrest. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.

In a recent press release from the USFS National Incident Management Team (NIMT, also known as “Incident Command Team”), Forest Service Incident Commander Gene Smithson claims they are acting in “good faith” with Gathering attendees. However, in the course of pursuing their vaguely stated goal to “manage and minimize” the Rainbow Gathering’s “social and political impacts,” the NIMT has dissuaded people from attending by conducting random searches of vehicles and tents; intruding on camps at night, aiming pepper ball rifles and flashlights at gatherers; issuing tickets at illegal roadblocks; and generally exhibiting hostile behavior towards attendees and volunteers even after a permit was issued for the event.

Now that US Marshals have been accompanying the NIMT on their patrols throughout the Gathering, the harassment has decreased and mostly consists of their continued presence and their daily checkpoints at varying locations on the way into and out of the Gathering. The roadblocks discourage Rainbow attendees from going into town for supplies, and thousands of former Rainbow gatherers are dissuaded from attending because of the overall increased harassment year after year by the NIMT. This limits the enormous boost that Rainbow Gatherings bring to the local economy.  The federal government may see a small profit in the fines gatherers pay who do not wish to return months later to contest their tickets, but that is little compared to its unnecessary spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars to intentionally interfere with citizens exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble on public land.

Tickets issued at illegal roadblocks may be contested in court because they are in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (See US Supreme Court ruling at Despite the gatherers’ overwhelming evidence that these checkpoints have been taking place outside this year’s Gathering since June 15th (as well as for years outside past Rainbow gatherings), the NIMT has just denied this, publicly stating, “Officers will be patrolling the area around the clock but, to date, have not established any checkpoints or roadblocks.”

Regarding the Gathering’s “social impact,” gathering volunteers have done extensive outreach to local residents, businesses and Forest Service resource personnel to cultivate a positive event for all parties. Please see this video:
Part 1:
Part 2:
As far as the alleged “political impact,” the gatherers wish everyone to know that they have no agenda other than to pray for world peace and gather peacefully. Individuals will host non-threatening activities like yoga classes, sign-language workshops and parades. The campers are enjoying their reunion, look forward to a safe, healthy, and happy gathering, and all peaceful people are invited to attend.

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, and use turn signals, especially at all unpaved intersections. Follow guidelines of the parking crew who will greet you at the front gate. Media personnel are especially welcome. Pull into the designated Media Parking area and check in 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 no more than a ¾ mile hike from the parking lot. Wear good shoes and bring a large water bottle and a reusable plate and cup if you wish to partake in the 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. Many gatherers 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. On July Fourth, silence is observed from dawn until noon. During this time, it is requested that any cameras used before noon only take long distance group shots so everyone is comfortable. Please respect this moment of silent prayer and meditation for world peace, and refrain from requesting or acquiring any close-up shots or interviews.

Directions to the Gathering (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.

NIMT press releases and statements are on the Forest Service’s website,

This press release is provided as a service of the Rainbow press crew, an unofficial affiliation of volunteers. Additional press releases are on the Rainbow press crew’s website,

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June 30, 2009. Uncategorized.

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