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For immediate release: July 2, 2008
Rainbow Press Crew Press Release

RAINBOW GATHERING RETURNS TO WYOMING

Residents Pleased

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyo (July 2, 2008) - This year's Annual Rainbow Gathering of Living Light is being held out in the woods near the Big Sandy area of one of Wyoming's many breathtaking National Forests. The Rainbow Gathering was last held in the state in 1994, and before that in 1973. All-American citizens from Wyoming locals to folks from places as far away as the Hurricane Katrina ravaged Gulf Coast who have experienced Rainbow gatherers are delighted with the gatherers' presence, boost to economy and actions as ambassadors of goodwill.

The Gathering is held from July 1-7; clean-up runs from July 8 to completion. Thousands of peaceful people of many different kinds are on-site, from backpackers to bankers. They are people of all ages and backgrounds, from babies to veterans of wars dating as far back as Korea.

The Rainbow attendees are an international affiliation of individuals who gather together on public land to create a cooperative society that focuses on peace, love, healing and respect for the earth.

It is stated in a YouTube film entitled "Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents" that "the Rainbow Gathering takes place in a National Forest. This allows the event to be open to all and free of censorship, in keeping with the right of peaceable assembly and free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Rainbow Gatherings have several basic elements which uniquely define the event, and distinguish it from other forest service uses. They are free, non-commercial events open to everyone. There are no leaders, no closed committees, no authority, no administration and no office. Only self-appointed volunteers work to make the Gathering happen."

The Gatherings have an over 35-year history of success in providing its own parking and communications crews, and its own fire patrol. The gatherers are also very proficient in implementing their own security, public health, water, sewer and sanitation systems. Kitchens are set up Swiss Family Robinson-style. The equipment and methods used to cook for thousands is immaculately clean; the kitchen volunteers adhere to the strictest of sanitation policies even in such primitive conditions, much to the approval of local Health Departments.

In fact, many gatherers take the phrase, "cleanliness is next to Godliness" to the utmost level. Dennis Havig, district ranger in Wisdom, MT, said he witnessed Gatherers at the 2001 Annual Gathering in Montana working long hours collecting trash and sorting recyclables. "There were 23,000 people here and you can find virtually no trash" – Missoula Independent, June 7, 2001.

When skilled Gatherers watched the desperate people literally dieing on television after Hurricane Katrina hit and no one was helping them, they went into immediate action. Rainbow volunteer Rob Savoye explained, "When we got to (Hurricane) Katrina, they were excited because we brought instant relief with mobile kitchens, a fully trained medical staff, and a functional communications center. We were treating people in the streets in August, two blocks from the French Quarter and feeding the National Guard. We can coordinate as individuals. We don't fall apart in the chaos, we just fall together." -Steamboat Pilot & Today, June 25, 2006.

At the same time even more Gatherers headed down to Waveland, Mississippi to set up a huge help center in the middle of an enormous parking lot, called the Waveland Cafe. Familiar with surviving quite well for extended time periods with no running water or electricity in the woods, the Rainbow Gatherers quickly and easily built an infrastructure on that lot even better than one may see at any Gathering in the forest, again with very limited resources. It ran solely on private donations from good-hearted folks and church groups.

On the first Thanksgiving after the storm, the Rainbow volunteers from the Waveland Café held a parade for the town. A YouTube film entitled, "Rainbow Family & Christians Unite to Give Hope after Katrina" captured a parade watcher's heartfelt reaction: "All of these beautiful people from the Waveland Cafe and what they've given to us, we can never repay (tears up, happy tears). I know that Hancock County could not have made it without what they have done. And to give us this parade?! (more joyous tears welling up)". When asked if she'd ever had a parade like this before she rejoiced, "No and I think they're fabulous! They're the most beautiful people that there are!"

Out of these phenomenal and intrepid efforts, American Rainbow Rapid Response (ARRR) was created. This May, ARRR accepted an invitation and attended a function inside the White House to be acknowledged and thanked for their work and for being one of the top 100 Faith-Based Community Volunteer efforts in the country.

Residents from towns outside of past gatherings have had positive interactions with the Rainbow attendees. In the previously mentioned YouTube film entitled, "Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents," a merchant from outside of the 2001 Annual Gathering in Montana said, "Basically, all you had to do was ask, and we had so many just helping out." When asked what advice could be given to store owners of next year's town, the merchant exclaimed, "Order! (laughs) Everybody kept coming in and said, 'You better start ordering this and that.' And we did, but not NEARLY enough. Not- and when they tell you and your still going 'I just don't know-' Order. If they tell you to order, order!"

A merchant from the Jackson Mercantile reported, "Financially we were in arrears, now we are caught up," and told the Rainbow camera person, "Thanks for helping us out of the hole. And it's been fun being here. My pastor, all my girlfriends, everyone has rallied, and we really loved you guys."

Wyoming residents including Jackson Hole Police Chief Dave Cameron have also had good times with Rainbow gatherers. "It was an interesting group of people and it just goes to show it takes all kinds." - Jackson Hole News, July 6, 1994. Sage Cafe owner Judy Marx reported, "We did a darn good business. On the 2nd of July, we ran $3500 through the place." -Star Tribune, July 10, 1994.

It has recently been reported that there is low attendance at this year's gathering, and it's true; gathering attendance used to be in numbers upward of 25,000. This follows a trend. Denise Ottaviano, a spokesperson for the Forest Service (FS), stated in reference to the 2007 Annual Gathering in Arkansas, "The event reached its peak with an estimated 6,000 people." -Arkansas Online, July 6, 2007.

Why such low numbers at the Rainbow Gathering? Some believe it's because of the current high gas prices. Others believe it has more to do with the government's intensified harassment campaign against Rainbow events.

Two gatherers were Tasered at the 2007 Annual Gathering in Arkansas. Two months later, the FS purchased 700 Tasers. They informed Rainbow volunteers that their Law Enforcement Officers ("LEO"s) are trained to use the Tasers and will be equipped with them at the Gathering. Why did the FS make this purchase with such a low budget due to last year's fire season? Why bring Tasers to a gathering of folks whose entire purpose in getting together is to pray for peace? These questions have yet to be answered.

A recent New York Times article from June 15, 2008, states that out of all law enforcement and military agencies with Tasers, only about one-third of them distribute these weapons to their entire forces. The NYPD is the most highly trained and modeled-after law enforcement agency in the country, and perhaps in the world. Only its sergeants have the authority to carry Tasers. The article continued, "Also on Wednesday, Amnesty International said it had tracked more then 300 cases since 2001 in which people died after being shocked by a Taser."

As far as accountability, the article reported, "A federal jury...held Taser International partly responsible in the death of a Salinas, Calif. man," and continued, "...a lawyer announced the filing of a lawsuit against New York City in the case of a retired police lieutenant's son who had been hit four times with a Taser after the police responded..."

The Forest Service Manual updated February 1, 2008 repeatedly states that Electronic Control Devices (ECDs, aka Tasers) are "non-lethal." However, many other agencies themselves, when referring to these weapons, are ever increasingly replacing the term "non-lethal" with the term "less-lethal". It leads one to wonder what other Taser training inaccuracies the FS has received.

As of this press release, LEO harassment at this year's Gathering in Wyoming is rampant mostly on the road and in the parking lot, but thankfully there have been no reports of any Taserings.

Please come to the Gathering and get the full story. The possibility of confrontation with LEOs is there, but besides that there are so many great reasons to check out the event! The views are spectacular and the people are fabulous and entertaining. On the Fourth of July, gatherers will celebrate our country's independence with an entire camp-wide silent prayer for peace in the morning until noon when they gather in the main meadow. The silence is then broken by the Children's Parade and the day's festivities begin.

Wyoming has been kind to Rainbow gatherers; all peaceful people please come to the site and have a wonderful time!

Travel advisory for getting to and around camp: most of the Gathering is a hike from the parking lot. To get there you will need to park and then walk about 1-3 miles, so be prepared with good shoes, water bottle, and bring a reusable plate to enjoy a free meal!
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. 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 feels comfortable. Please respect this moment of silent prayer and meditation for world peace, and refrain from acquiring any close-up shots or interviews.

Directions:
From Rock Springs, Wyoming take US-191 north to WY-353 (near Boulder, Wyoming). From Boulder, WY -- Take Wy-353 to the end of pavement where it turns into County Road 118 and you'll see a sign that says "Farson 39, Boulder 28". Stay on CR118 towards Farson -- after about 10 miles you'll come to a junction with CR132 with a sign pointing LEFT to "Big Sandy Campground 15 mi." -- TURN LEFT on CR132 (East) and take this for about 7 miles until you see another sign pointing LEFT to "DUTCH JOE G.S. 3 mi" -- Take this LEFT about 2 miles to the Front Gate of the Gathering. Pull into the designated Media Check-In Parking Area and check in. Media is welcome to be escorted through the camp. Tours begin at 12:00 pm daily from the Media Check-In area.

www.welcomehome.org primary site

"Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents" film
Part One http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLj8qsXt0ZE
Part Two http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VwVjvSSn5I&feature=related

"Rainbow Family & Christians Unite to Give Hope After Katrina" film
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3tT5F9ECpA

FS Taser purchase document
http://www.peer.org/docs/fs/07_4_12_taser_justification.pdf

Video evidence of the FS's harassment campaign against Rainbow Gatherings can be made available to the press.

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Pray for Peace

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