Rainbow Family Reunion in Georgia Disrupted by Federal Agents (UPDATE 1)
(APN) DAHLONEGA, Georgia – The 47th Annual Rainbow Family Gathering was held in the Chattahoochee National Forest near Dahlonega, Georgia during the week of July 4, 2018.
Some 4,500 people, including students, veterans, teachers, homeless youth, professionals, some poor, some wealthy from across the country attended the rally, which is held annually in national parks. the United States.
In Georgia, they were met by US Federal Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) with roadblocks; and illegal searches of cars, property and people. In the majority of cases, federal agents found nothing. An unknown number of people have been arrested for small amounts of cannabis.
Lt. Alan Roach of the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office told Atlanta Progressive News that his report on those arrested from June 12 to July 8 shows 202 people were arrested, but he does not know who the local residents are and who are the participants of Rainbow. He also couldn’t tell APN the average monthly total of arrests in the county.
In response, about two hundred people staged a peaceful protest on July 08 outside Lumpkin County Jail to denounce intimidating, illegal and unconstitutional acts of law enforcement officials.
Incident reports filed by Rainbow attendees claim they were subjected to illegal searches and seizures; unauthorized detention; restriction of access to public property; failure to ensure due process and deprivation of human, civil and constitutional rights.
Lumpkin County Police Chief Stacy Jarrard dispatched thirty officers from the United States Forest Service and coordinated with officials from the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Georgia Department of Corrections, from the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Family and Children. Services, as reported by the newspaper Dahlonega Nugget.
The Lumpkin County Police Department sought to control all aspects of their visit instead of allowing people to have fun in the wilderness for a week and then return home.
A little rainbow story
The first Rainbow Gathering was held in Colorado in 1972 and was hosted by Vietnam Veterans and anti-war peace activists on Independence Day to pray for world peace.
Rainbow is a non-hierarchical group of people with no formal leaders and no membership. No one individual can represent all rainbows.
They are from all walks of life who share a love and respect for the land, which they say always leaves cleaner than they have found it.
Their goal is to create a space of peace and love, to treat everyone with respect and kindness. It is a temporary community with a strong ethic of collective sharing of resources and volunteer services.
Some participants are homeless and others are wealthy, but everyone is equal at the Gatherings. Everyone can eat for free; have access to water and medicine; and participate in music, art, yoga, meditation, educational workshops and prayer.
Federal agents actions
Hundreds, if not thousands of cars have been stopped by roadblocks; people have been detained without consent; and their cars and belongings have been illegally searched for drugs in what many now call a “dog scam”.
Here is a video made by a Rainbow participant, which is representative of what happened to an unknown number of Rainbow people as they were greeted in the area by agents of the US Federal Forest Service.
People have been told that a K-9 dog would have smelled like drugs, but in the majority of cases no drugs were found, like in this video.
Michael, a rally participant, said he was arrested and harassed three times by Forest Service LEO and once by Lumpkin County Police.
“I saw them walk through campsites and confiscate bottles of essential oils that they said they had to test for drugs. They did it daily until July 3, when a federal judge ruled in our favor and put an end to this harassment, ”Michael told APN.
“I saw a disabled child with a missing leg and part of his arm pulled off a chair and crashed to the ground and handcuffed to me because he didn’t follow their orders to move his chair fairly quickly, ”Michael said.
Another woman was taken from her “Gypsy Wagon” home where she and her son slept. They spent 47 hours in jail and were eventually released without charge.
“We didn’t do anything wrong and we didn’t have drugs,” said Liberty, another Rainbow Gathering attendee.
“The police went through and searched everyone entering, their vehicles and their bodies. They took everything out of my pockets, took off my shoes, took everything out of my backpack and searched everyone in the car, ”Joey Hartman told APN. The excuse for this illegal search was that a person in the pickup had not put on his seat belt.
Garrick Beck, a longtime Rainbow participant, tells APN he was held for an hour by Forest Service police who ripped everything out of his car and found nothing.
“People have to stand up for their constitutional rights. If we are not safe in our homes, cars or people from illegal searches and seizures; if we cannot come together in peace or walk the road without being fined, then we are losing our democracy, ”Beck said.
A woman said she was harassed and traumatized by federal police, which triggered her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She said she suffered a seizure by then and was taken to hospital. The doctor told the police they were wrong and free her, she said.
Many people were playing in the river and the waterfall when an officer Cooper showed up to stop them for being naked in the river, participants said. A few minutes later, around 20 armed officers showed up to prevent witnesses from filming the incident or leaving the scene. Everyone naked in the river was arrested.
Another day, a man was arrested for bathing in a stream without clothes and released on $ 420 bail.
Residents, lawyers and a candidate for governor speak out
Many people in County Lumpkin support the Rainbow Gathering, while others are afraid and don’t want them in the community.
“I believe they have been profiled. A member of the Sheriff’s Department told me on Facebook that they were being portrayed as smelly hippies, ”Frank Gilkeson, a local resident, told APN.
“The sheriff held a meeting at town hall and indicated he was going to be gentle with them, but what he did was suppress them mercilessly. He looked for all possible violations, such as an off taillight, no seat belts, and used dogs sniffing every car. Even the people who were playing in the waterfall were arrested for being naked. They were ruthless, ”Gilkeson said.
A permit controversy erupted at this town hall. The sheriff and other citizens were angry that the gathering was apparently exempt from US Forest Service group usage regulations because everyone at Rainbow Gatherings is an individual, not a group. Therefore, no one can sign a permit for others.
Two Atlanta lawyers, Jordan “Alex” Johnson and Catherine Bernard of Spartacus Legal, are investigating allegations of violations of the constitutional rights of Rainbow participants.
“It seems that the constitutional rights of many people have been violated. It looks like a lot of people… are being jailed for traffic tickets that others would be fired with their licenses, ”Johnson told APN.
Ted Metz, a libertarian candidate for governor of Georgia, was present at the protest rally and is running on a platform that includes the legalization of cannabis.
“I support the Rainbow Family because of the concept of equal protection under the law. What’s going on with the over-policing in Dahlonega is disgusting when you see all the violations of 4th and 5th amendment law, it’s not American, ”Metz told APN.
“They generate income from a peaceful group… it is disgusting to see the sheriff deputizing for federal forest agencies to help him harass people for being different.”
Don Wirtshafter, an Ohio lawyer and Rainbow participant, told APN in a telephone interview that he was “angry with the use of the federal court system for minor traffic violations that the Forest Service wrote ”.
The Forest Service wrote 900 citations and they had the option of giving the citations as a warning or mandatory appearance in federal court in Gainesville, Georgia.
But “for the Rainbow Gathering, they issue these tickets as a mandatory appearance, so you had this masquerade of people leaving the forest and going to court.” Wirtshafter said and added “this court does not accept cash and everyone who shows up has a bill to pay later over the internet”.
However, if they had not appeared in federal court, a federal arrest warrant would have been issued against them.
There are hundreds of formal complaints from Rainbow participants regarding intimidation, harassment, and violations of civil and constitutional rights by law enforcement officials who conducted a massive illegal search for drugs without cause. specific.
Stay tuned to AFN for coverage of the many lawsuits that are sure to follow from the Rainbow Family Gathering in Georgia.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2018)
UPDATE 1 and CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that previous Rainbow Gatherings have gone without incident in terms of law enforcement actions. In fact, there have been incidents at previous Gatherings.