As a result of a number of press articles regarding conflicts at the 2008 Rainbow Family Gathering in Wyoming the Wyoming Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union requested complaints, narratives or reports regarding individuals experiences at The Gathering. We were particularly interested in a conflict that occurred in “kiddy village”. Kiddy village is an area set-aside for those participants that have children and is particularly directed to children’s experience.
There are no official Rainbow Family representatives, documents or incorporations. It is my understanding they have been gathering since the 1970’s and generally believe in non-violence and alternative lifestyles. They gather once a year in national forests to pray for the planet and for peace.
One of the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) press releases regarding the 2008 Rainbow Family Gathering stated that “about 400” Rainbow Family members surrounded a squad of officers trying to leave the “kiddy village” area after an arrest. The press release also stated that Rainbow Family members threw sticks and rocks at federal officers. Both the USFS and the Rainbow family agree the incident started when officers arrested a family member for an alleged drug offense.
The accounts of the experiences of individuals at this years gathering came from a number of sources: many of the reporters were long time Rainbow Family members and participants, some were casual or first time attendees and others Wyoming residents that just wanted to see “what was going on.” Among our reporters were doctors, lawyers, National Guard members, a nurse, and a retired carpenter from Lander. One of the telling items in all of the reporting was how similar the experiences were. The similarities maintained=0 Adespite the date, time, number of people reporting, age, or place of occurrence. These similarities in experiences and allegations provided an added element of validity to the reporting.
The USFS has stated that they are simply at the gatherings to “handle the perimeter” and to deal with “specific problems”. The reality of their presence seems very different however.
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