Letter from Rainbow Family Legaliaison Volunteers 1/26/93

January 26, 1993

TO: White House
ATT; Carol Rasco, Domestic Policy Advisor
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

FROM: Rainbow Family Legaliaison Volunteers
P.O. Box 5604, Takoma Park, Maryland 20913

SUBJECT: Request for clarification of the Agriculture Department's position with respect to U.S. Forest Service rulemaking proposal, currently pending Office of Management and Budget approval, which would restrict the right of peaceable assembly on public lands.

This rulemaking proposal would establish administrative restrictions on the right of the people to peaceably assemble on the public lands for the purposes of expression and/or religious exercise.

For the past 20 years the Rainbow Family, among others, has gathered on public lands. Last year there were over 200 such gatherings, large and small. The largest being in Colorado during July with many thousands of people attending. Attached is additional information regarding the history of the Rainbow Gatherings and the Forest Service. Appendix A

Despite agreements to act with "an attitude of positive cooperation" (Appendix B), the National Forest Service has consistently assumed a confrontational posture with respect to these gatherings. This adversarial attitude has resulted in:
1. Court cases, settled, after considerable time and expense, in favor of the right of the people to assemble. E.g., United States v. Israel, No. Cr-86-027- TUC-RMB (May 10, 1986; 53 Fed. Reg. 16548 (May 10, 1988), amending 36 C.F.R. Sec. 251.50 (1987); United States v. The Rainbow Family, 694 F. Supp. 294, (June 1, 1989, J. Justice, USED Tex. CA No. L-88-68); 55 Fed. Reg. 8498 (March 8, 1990).

2. Injury, harassment, and arrest of many people.

3. Exorbitant amounts of public funds spent to support a large, but unnecessary police presence (e.g., Appendix C), and

4. A climate of administrative secrecy so hostile that, notwithstanding previous assurances of "positive cooperation" (Appendix B), the agency not only refuses to divulge the substance of its present proposal, but even its official regulatory designation (from previous experience --see, draft of the rulemaking proposed submitted by NFS to OMB on February 22, 1990 -- we suspect it will be designated as an amendment to 36 CFR 2.51).

The Rainbow Family Legaliaison requests a response to the following questions:
* Have the proposed regulations currently under consideration for Office of Management and Budget (Don Arbuckle j395-7340) approval been (as reported by the Washington Post, January 24, 1992, page A-18) rescinded by order of Leon Panetta?

* If that proposal has not been rescinded is the current administration willing to hold a public hearing in an attempt to resolve this ongoing conflict in a spirit of peace through reason?

Thank you for your assistance.


D.C. Scribe

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