November 3, 1982
Asst. Director for Recreation Management
This letter is in regard to what we see as the need for
clarification of the rights of people to religious assembly on
public lands. Yearly since 1972 our group, Rainbow family Tribal
Council has sponsored such religious assemblies which we call
Rainbow Gatherings, Additionally, these Gatherings are assemblies
wherein we petition the government to change its domestic and
international relationship to one of Peace by -- among other
actions --our being a living example of a peaceful lifestyle.
Due to increased surveillance and the current law enforcement perspective concerning our Gatherings we are going to address the following in this letter: I. Clarification of the appropriate duties of the law enforcement agencies; II, The special use permit -- which involves Forest Service planning and
policy; and III. Previous and present report practices especially in relation to the Washington State Gathering of 1981.
The U.S. Constitution is explicit in guaranteeing to support
the, people's unalienable right to peaceable assembly and religious
expression, The associated rights of the people to free, expression
and free association are likewise mandated by the Constitution
to prevent interference or harassment by private, public or
political interests, These rights of expression and association
are essential to the maintenance of a free society.
In fact there has been interference with the Rainbow Gathering
and the rights of the people attending the event, on the part
of various local, regional and federal agencies.
During the most recent Gathering held outside of Council,
Idaho, July 1982, the U.S. Forest Service enforcement division
in conjunction with the county sheriff's department recorded
license plate numbers of practically every vehicle entering.
Gathering, This has been observed and noted by many family
members and was admitted to openly on many occasions by several
officers from both agencies, For example, on the evening of
June 20th Sheriff Jim Hileman in the presence of federal law
enforcement ranger Steve Jefferies spoke to two Rainbow Shanti
Sena (security people) stating it was his "duty" to record these
This was done over our objections and constitutes clear
violation of numerous civil and religions liberties.
Section P 4 of our operational plan with the U.S. Forest
Service provides for the Rainbow Family to have sole responsibility for security within the parking areas, Thus this intrusion
amounts to breach of contract.
More importantly, the act of recording all license plate
numbers of those attending interferes with the freedom of
religion and the right of peaceable assembly.
First, the members of any church might be afraid to attend
if they were subject to identification checks enroute.
Second, this interferes with the members' ability to concentrate on religious and spiritual activities.
Third, the list of Gatherers obtained from license plates
violates the U.S. Constitution by creating a prior restraint
resulting in a chilling effect on freedom of expression, speech,
association and assembly for religious purpose or right to
petition for peace.
Fourth, the license checks produced no warrants, no stolen
cars, nor fugitives, One may conclude that law abiding citizens
attended the event. This indicates no probable cause for such
Fifth, this action can make people afraid to attend next year.
An additional interference has been the excessive presence
of law enforcement on site.
This presence constitutes breach of contract as specified
in our operational plan in writing with the Forest Service that
provides for the Tribal Council to have sole authority for
security within the site; also in oral agreement with the sheriff's
department and Forest Service on June 10th where it was stated
by Ranger Gene Benedict and Sheriff Jim Hileman that "low key
law enforcement" was their planned course of action.
with respect to our operational agreement, intelligence
gathering by observation and photography amounts to unauthorized
security, The continual presence of the sheriff's and ranger's
teams amounts to an unauthorized security force.
These activities interfere with basic Constitutional rights:
the mere presence of sheriff's posses and intelligence gathering --
interferes with freedom of expression, speech, association, and
exercise of religion since surveillance photography and intelligence gathering causes a chilling effect on such freedoms.
Picture yourself attending your church picnic and being
subject on arrival to license checks, police photography,
and aerial surveillance of your camp, as well as horseback
surveillance teams that photographed and took notes even in
the personal camping areas of your assembly. This constitutes
invasion of privacy.
The separation of church and state becomes violated when
the vestibule of the church becomes a potential police state.
No clear or present danger of violence exists, The
Rainbow Gathering has consistently presented an overwhelmingly
crime-free environment, even at peak periods with 10,000 or
more people present.
Few law violations by gatherers have occurred. in this
year's situation, there was one incidence of illegal purchase
of salmon, one reported burglary attempt (which was later
reported in the Council Idaho newspaper as not being associated with the Gathering), two vehicles stolen from the
Gathering, some stolen travelers checks, and a few petty thefts,
These do not constitute a major or even minor set of
circumstances of law-breaking.
The Rainbow Council has a consistent record of working
cc-operatively with law enforcement agencies whenever a
particular situation has presented the need.
The fact that license numbers were taken down and other
`surveillance done did neither prevent nor cause the few
incidences to be resolved. Only the incident of July 10th
with Heidi Saugen who on her way from church was "busted"
for possession of her sacrament (marijuana) resulted from
this illegal and unauthorized surveillance.
Additionally, an "affinity group" chose to Gather at
Mud Creek, 40 miles away from the Rainbow Gathering, This
group was threatened with arrest, roundup, and possible
National Guard action by the county Sheriff, if they bra not
Gather with the Rainbow Gathering. This affinity group has
given us written testimony of this harassment.
Although we can understand the presumed burden of the
county Sheriff having two peaceable assemblies in his jurisdiction, this type of "high-handed" action could be prevented
by his having clear written statements from the Forest Service
and Justice Department on duties concerning such events.
Through this letter we are registering our formal protest
of this treatment of the affinity group's Gathering.
Our equal protection rights have been violated due to
differential treatment. There are no license checks on
local church parking lots, University of Idaho football
game parking lots, nor the town of Council's 3rd of July
annual Porcupine Races, nor any other mass Gatherings,
This is prejudicial and discriminatory treatment.
Recording the names and addresses of car owners
amounts to compiling a membership list which cannot be
obtained unless on actual, clear and present threat to the
U.S. Government (Communist Party of Indiana vs. Whitcomb,
414 U.S. 441, 1914).
The names and addresses and license numbers obtained
should be turned over to our Tribal Council pursuant to the
freedom of association clauses of our Constitution, We have
the right to know who we are and to protect membership from
government intrusion and harassment,
In regard to the Special Use Permit submitted to us
by the U.S. Forest Service: This is invalid and unenforceable
since it was never agreed to nor applied for. The federal
government through their agent Forest Supervisor Kenneth
Weyers presented it to us without application; it was unsigned
by the Tribal Council, This clearly fails to meet contract
law requirements. Neither was there any meeting of the minds,
and the papers in question were issued unilaterally.
Further, the bill for $25.00 and related penalties
which was presented along with the permit is illegal in
view of the Constitutional provisions preventing the government from requiring even a penny for a group of people to
assemble for religious purposes, This fee restricts people's
freedom of association, freedom of religious assembly, and
right to gather to petition, Additionally, at its basis it
is invalid due to an unenforceable contract, Furthermore the
penalty clauses violate the usury laws by requiring excessive
interest, And in the perspective of the whole Gathering,
many recognized participating religious groups included in
the event are being taxed illegitimately by this fee.
The right of the Rainbow Family to Gather is supported
both by Statutory and Constitutional law.
It is a firmly settled matter in U.S. case law that the
rights of people to assemble for religious purposes shall
not be interfered with for secular purposes, nor because
regulatory agencies deem interference appropriate, nor because
the religious views expressed might be unpopular, nor because
local ordinances make such prohibitions, In each instance the
law has held for the people's right to attend and maintain
their religious assemblies.
From July 1972 through July 1976 there were no special
use permits, Nor was there any special use permit in 1981;
also in 1980 there was a permit signed under duress of
federal officers impeding the entrance to the Gathering.
There is currently the ongoing tradition of operational
plans without special use permits or permissions, This
includes also a tradition of oral contracts and agreements
regarding occupation of lands, duties and proceedures,
Insistence on special use permits now constitutes an estoppel
in pais of a functioning set of agreement relationships.
These operational plans are available in the reports
of the U.S. Forest Service from previous years or from our
We have obtained, under the freedom of Information Act,
the report made concerning our Gathering last year (1981) on
the Colville National Forest. Without going into overbroad
detail, let us inform you that the report is full of factual
lapses and some blatant lies that could not have been in good
faith recorded from the available evidence. Such statements
as that our doctors are without M.D. certification or that
"homemade hand grenade" materials have been found are utterly
without basis in fact and should lead the reader to serious
questioning of the reliability of the report as a whole.
Additionally, the time, effort and taxpayer expense that
has gone into these often elaborate reports, often covering
very far-fetched material, seems to be a wasteful and unproductive work that could have its positive aspects accomplished
by much more modest means.
Further, it was stated to several of our liaison persons
on different occasions by federal agents that biographies,
computerized, with numbers for easy access, of people the
government presumed to be our "leaders" were available to
law enforcement. Yet, this item about biographies was not
mentioned in the 1981 Washington Gathering report.
In regard to the issue of public policy towards us which
the Colville report recommends, we feel most strongly that
there is a great difference between a public policy that
supports the people's right to Gather and promotes a positive
cooperative relation between the people and the public
service agencies, and a policy which restricts the people's
right to Gather thru increased regulation, surveillance and
In order to evolve a national policy which may involve
public hearings, congressional or departmental review, etc.,
we would be willing to appear and testify about group use of
public lands especially in regard to religious or spiritual
peaceable assemblies or Gathering to petition the government,
We have a great deal of documentation and material which
could be presented on this matter.
Our purpose in writing you is to ask for clarification
on some of these matters and to make certain requests,
1. That license plate numbers be returned to us and that
any copies whatsoever stored with any government agency be
eliminated; this includes any computerized notations or any
other extensions of this surveillance.
2. That you take a public and actual position that will
in fact protect our civil liberties.
3. We ask for clarification of the rights and duties
of the officers of the law as regards religious assemblies.
4. We ask for clarification of your position as regards
the legitimacy of these actions in breaking our agreements.
5. What is the agencies' probable cause for all this
6. Where does the duty of an officer or agent to protect
the community end and their intrusion into the privacy of
7, What grounds, if any, do you see for the U.S. Forest
Service and the local Sheriff to record and process the license
plate numbers of all those attending the Gathering?
8, W hat is your position regarding the legitimacy of
the special use permit and fee request?
9, Why have enforcement teams grown in numbers when the
size of the Gatherings has remained relatively the same?
10. What is the need for the long and often unfactual
and irrelevant material produced in the U.S. Forest Service
11. What is the Justice Department policy and Forest
Service policy concerning the right of the public to Gather
on public lands for peaceable purposes?
historically and traditionally the United States has
backed religious freedom. We have seen patterns of surveillance
and the presence of overreaching authority throughout the
II years of our Gatherings. Yet there has been no concrete.
evidence of violence or crime that would call for such
activity and interference.
We see in air this documentation indication of a
prejudicial and discriminatory stance on the part of the
federal government and county authorities.
We see this as the result or a misguided concept of what is
the right and proper duty of the officials involved?
Therefore we are respectfully sending you this request
for clarification of these matters.
Sincerely, for the Rainbow Liaison,
Ma Gyna Carla
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