Police use strong-arm tactics at Rainbow Gathering

Dear Editor,

I am writing regarding the Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering of the Tribes that has been setting up in the Green Mountain National Forest in Mount Tabor. I am a California native who has travelled to Vermont in order to volunteer my time and labor at the gathering. Rainbow Gatherings mean a lot to me, and they give me an annual opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July in a peaceful way with hundreds of my closest friends and family, as well as thousands of wonderful people I have not yet met. I want to express gratitude to all of the local folks I have met, who have visited the gathering site and enjoyed themselves, eaten dinner at our free communal main daily meal, or shared a cup of coffee or a cigarette or few tall tales around the campfire.

Local participation is what gives each gathering its own sweet unique flavor. To all those folks in the area who have not yet come to visit the gathering, I encourage you to come on out! Entrance is free, participation is encouraged, and everyone with a belly button is welcome!

Unfortunately, along with the sweet moments at this gathering, there has been a dismayingly overzealous show of force by Law Enforcement.

Since around June 20, Brooklyn Road (FS10), the road to the trailhead, has been patrolled hourly by Law Enforcement Officers. Cars are being pulled over for petty violations like broken taillights, expired inspection stickers, or wide turns. Then the drivers are pressured and intimidated into consenting to vehicle searches. When consent is denied, the officers have had K-9 units walk around and sniff the cars. When the dogs alert, the officers then search the car, often turning up no contraband despite alleged indication by dogs. These strong-arm tactics are inappropriate, and appear unconstitutional. One individual was detained for about an hour while officers retrieved a K-9 unit to search his car with. This appears to be in violation of the 2015 Rodriguez v. United States Supreme Court ruling which found that police officers could not legally extend a traffic stop in order to retrieve a police dog for a search.

So I am writing to condemn the bullying and clearly targeted behavior of the police officers at the gathering. They are not regional officers, they are a special team assembled in Washington D.C. and sent to the Rainbow Gathering each year to police the peaceable assembly. Shame on you, Incident Command Team!

But to everyone, welcome home! We love you!

Adam Buxbaum, California

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