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For immediate release: July 5, 2008

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Feds Use Violent Tactics Against Campers and Children

[Big Sandy, WY] - Attendees at the annual Rainbow Gathering have once again been the target of brutal law enforcement tactics this past week as they gathered in the Bridger National Forest in southwestern Wyoming. The violent tactics, which have injured several adults and children, include the shooting of pepper spray bullets, pointing guns at children, and repeatedly tasering a man who was handcuffed.

The Rainbow Family of Living Light is a loose network of individuals who gather every year in the national forest to pray for peace, commune with nature, and visit with friends. Every year, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) increases its attempts to disrupt and cause violence at the Rainbow Family's peaceful gatherings. This year's Gathering was no exception.

The pepper bullet incident occurred around 7:00pm on Thursday, July 3 when about a dozen USFS federal agents surrounded a meadow where Rainbows were enjoying the day. For reasons unknown, they zeroed in on a male member of the crowd, who went into the woods towards Kiddie Village, an area of the Gathering filled with children. USFS agents followed the man into Kiddie Village, where they apprehended him. As the man was being arrested, one concerned woman tried asking the feds what the man had done. The feds refused to answer, and instead viciously threw the woman to the ground and pulled her head back by her hair while she was being handcuffed. This caused panic among the other campers, who called for the Rainbows own crisis intervention and peace-keeping team to come from the main circle. As the feds retreated with the two campers in custody, they were followed up the hill by about 100-200 concerned Rainbows. In these situations, Rainbows are trained to call out calming suggestions for peace and order like "Stay calm." and "Give 'em room." Elders told the campers to keep "cameras in front and people in back" to prevent the Forest Service from feeling threatened.

Despite this, the feds then opened fire with 20-30 bursts of pepper spray bullets at random into the crowd, injuring both adults and children, and hitting one man in the face. There are also reports that the feds used rubber bullets and that one federal agent pointed his gun at several children and a baby.
http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com/articles/2008/07/05/news/wyoming/b6f13c1e812604148725747d0005a3c0.txt

The USFS called in for reinforcements, who showed up with M16 rifles and scared the campers from asking any more questions. The feds say that the campers threw "sticks and rocks" at them during the incident. This has not been substantiated. However, this excuse is used every year by the feds as part of their propaganda campaign against the Rainbows to justify their harsh tactics. In Colorado in 2006, the feds also accused the Rainbows of throwing sticks and stones, but video evidence later proved that this was a lie.
http://www.coloradolegaleagles.org/rainbow/2006/2006-08-04-rainbow.pr.roadblock.html

Another violent incident occurred around 2pm on July 2 when the feds tasered a man while handcuffed. The incident occurred in a parking area, when a man was moving a car from one parking space to another. He was asked by USFS agents to get out of his car, but he did not respond. The agents then roughly removed him from the vehicle, tasered him twice and handcuffed him. Witnesses report that he was then tasered 5 to 7 more times while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

Since the Gathering started on July 1, the feds have cited hundreds of people for minor infractions of the law. Almost every vehicle entering the site has been searched, and gatherers are routinely harassed and intimidated. Campers have been charged with dirty license plates, failure to use a turn signal on a 4WD dirt road, and having objects dangling from their rear view mirror.

The Gathering will continue through this weekend, and campers will be onsite to cleanup the area until at least the middle of July. Campers are encouraging concerned citizens to contact the USFS and ask them to stop harassing peaceful campers and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Write, call or email to express your outrage at the actions of the USFS:

Mark Rey
USDA Undersecretary
1400 Independence Ave. SW, 217-E
Washington, DC 20250
Phone: 202-720-7173
Fax: 202-720-0632
Email: mark.rey@usda.gov

USFS Chief Gail Kimbell
Phone: 202-205-1661

Call the Wyoming Representatives and Senators
* Sen. John Barrasso (R)
* Sen. Michael Enzi (R)
* Rep. Barbara Cubin (R)

And your own reps in DC
Capitol Switchboard TOLL-FREE:
1-800-828-0498
1-800-614-2803
1-866-338-1015

USFS Law Enforcement and Investigations
Director John C. Twiss
Phone: 703-605-4690

USFS Law Enforcement and Investigations
Senior Special Agent Gene Smithson
Phone: 703-605-4502

 

 

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