If only the Trump administration would step in and demand fairness from the Bureau of Land Management for ranchers and farmers in memory of the late LaVoy Finicum

To the BLM, hippies and nudists more equal than ranchers with cattle

By —— Bio and Archives--June 26, 2017

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No rancher’s cattle straying away to graze the grass on land the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) considers their own will ever get away with it.

While seven ranchers still languish in jail awaiting trial from incidents connected to the 2016 Malheur National Forest Standoff where rancher LaVoy Finicum was shot down under questionable circumstances, up to 30,000 aimless hangers on to the Rainbow Family of Living Light have outfoxed he BLM once again.

A sort of Occupy Wall Street of the Forest, The Rainbow Family of Living Light has been Vice.com described as “a loosely organised troupe of nudists, hippies and itinerants that meets every summer for a month-long love-in”.

Were it not for their gatherings numbering in the tens of thousands, the odd murder (here) and the heaps of trash they leave behind, Rainbow Family remains as elusive to the authorities as the so-called Bigfoot.

“The Associated Press reported 600 members of the Rainbow group are already camped near Flagtail Meadow in the park, but Malheur National Forest officials are expecting between 10,000-30,000 to arrive by July 4.

“The group refused to sign a special use permit, required for groups of more than 75. The group has noted that it claims no leader, and consequently there is no one to sign such permits.”

Even their website homepage is “unofficial”.

The Rainbow group doesn’t gather only in American forests, they stage gatherings in Belgium, Israel, France, Mexico and Canada.

“Started in the late 1960s as an outgrowth of the anti-war and hippy movements, the Rainbow Family of Living Light describes itself as “the largest, best coordinated, nonpolitical nondenominational nonorganisation of like-minded individuals on the planet. (Vice.com, June 24, 2014)

” The flagship Rainbow Family Gatherings, which have occurred every July since 1972 in a different US national forest, are like longer, more authentically weird versions of Burning Man, bringing together upwards of 10,000 “Rainbows” from a cross section of fringe culture: bikers, Jesus freaks, computer programmers, naked yogis, and gutter punks looking to escape “Babylon,” the Rainbow shorthand for the various evils of modern life. The gatherings are free and open to anyone. No one is in charge, and nobody can tell anyone else what to do.”

“If you asked 20,000 Rainbows why they go to the gathering, you would probably get 20,000 different answers,” said Rob Savoye, a “Rainbow” who has attended gatherings since 1980 and runs the unofficial Rainbow website WelcomeHome.org. “I know rednecks, Orthodox religious people who go to the gatherings, so it’s really hard to put a label on it.

“People are tolerant, accepting of different stuff,” Savoye added.  “A lot of us have had rough family lives, and the Rainbow has sort of filled that void for us.”

“Of the problems that we’ve seen at the Rainbow Gathering, nudity is the least of our worries,” said Dave Whittekiend, the US Forest Service supervisor for the Uinta-Wasatch Cache National Forest, where this year’s gathering is being held. The big concerns, he added, are “drugs and violence”.

“In preparation for the official start of the Gathering next week, local authorities have told residents to avoid the campsite and start locking their doors. “While many members of the Rainbow Family are upstanding citisens (sic), a small segment of their population have reportedly caused significant and detrimental impacts on nearby communities,” the county said in a public letter, warning of possible panhandling, trespassing, public urination and nudity.

“Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have also taken steps to avoid the Gathering, including relocating two nearby girls camps, and continue to closely monitor the situation,” said LDS spokesperson Eric Hawkins.

“Although arrests and police run-ins have always been a hallmark of the Gathering, in the past these issues were dominated by an ongoing conflict with the government. For more than three decades, state and federal officials tried to shut down the Rainbow Gatherings, or at least force the “Rainbows” to sign a group-use permit with the National Forest Service, driven by what Savoye said was “permit envy” of the Bureau of Land Management, which exacts hefty fees from Burning Man.

“The Forest Service wanted that money,” said Savoye. But because the Rainbow Family has no leadership, there was no one for the feds to deal with. “The government always thought that there was a leader of the group hiding somewhere,” he said. “So they spent a bunch of years throwing people in jail, trying to find someone to sign the permit.”



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“Tensions reached a boiling point at the 2008 Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming, when Forest Service law enforcement officers fired pepper balls at Rainbow Family members during a clash at the encampment. A report published by the Wyoming ACLU after the incident found that it was part of pattern of “harassment and overzealous enforcement” in the Forest Service’s relationship with the Rainbows. Since then, the two parties have reached an uneasy détente, although the Forest Service continues to deploy a National Incident Management Team of about 40 federal law enforcement agents to the annual gathering, at a taxpayer cost of about $500,000 (€367,000).

“The Rainbow Gathering prides itself on being unorganised, so we’re not going to invest an extraordinary amount of time trying to enforce the permit issue,” said Whittekiend. “We treat it as a special event, similar to a fire.”  

“The years of government confrontation have diminished turnout at the Rainbow Gatherings, said Michael Niman, a journalism professor at Buffalo State College and author of People of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia. As a result, he said, the event has become less mainstream, attracting more hardcore elements of the hippy fringe. “As police harassment increased, the fact that Rainbows kept showing up at the Gatherings made it like an act of civil disobedience,” Niman said. “People usually avoid conflict, so one of the things that has happened is that you’ve seen a shift in the mix at the Rainbow Gathering, toward folks people perceive as scary.”


“Although Niman insisted that reports of violence at the Rainbow Gatherings have been overblown, he conceded that as attendance has fallen off, the events have started to attract other drifters and vagrants who may not have come for the crystal worship and talking circles. “There’s been a crystal-meth problem, a crack problem, a homeless problem,” he said. “You’ll start seeing kids from nearby cities – they have no place else to go, so they’ll show up at the Rainbow Gatherings.”

“While these new arrivals are obviously a nuisance for local law enforcement, they are perhaps more troubling to the Rainbow Family, a movement that members say is ill-equipped to deal with knife-wielding lunatics and wedding marauders. “The crowd has changed,” said Savoye, with a touch of sadness. “For many years, the Gatherings were against the use of drugs, except maybe a little pot. Partly, that was to preserve a sense of community. Now, we’re dealing with kids who come to gatherings and use drugs and incite violence. And the Rainbow Family is not really set up to deal with that kind of behavior.

“A lot of these kids end up hanging out more in town and causing trouble with the locals. It’s an embarrassment,” he added. “It’s a little bit of a drag that we’ve sort of become a refugee camp.” 

If only the Rainbow Family’s gathering in Malheur National Forest for this year’s July 4th weekend would draw attention to the ranchers holding out hope for justice in Nevada and Oregon jails.


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If only the Trump administration would step in and demand fairness from the Bureau of Land Management for ranchers and farmers in memory of the late LaVoy Finicum.

‘The Ballad of LaVoy Finicum’

..LaVoy Finicum was only one rancher, a citizen trying to eke out a living in a livelihood the government is making all but impossible with the smothering red tape of bureaucracy.  And that’s why his death that came as he was standing knee-high in the Oregon snow is all the more unforgettably tragic.

LaVoy Finicum’s last ride

This is the first of a series of articles about the events surrounding the investiture of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge administration buildings by a group headed by Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven and Carol Bundy.  The Bundys are well known for the events in Nevada that played out in April 2014.  In that incident, the Bundys, along with hundreds of other patriotic Americans, went beyond “civil disobedience” and entered the realm of “civil defiance”, defying, with arms, the intrusion of the Bureau of Land Management into the long time operation of the cattle part of the Bundy ranch operation - denying rights that had existed for years and denying them their pursuit of the family business.

Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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