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1997 Rainbow Family National Gathering

U.S. Forest Service Final Report

United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Washington Office
14th & Independence SW
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, DC 20090-6090

File Code: 5300
Route To:

Subject: 1997 Rainbow Family Gathering
Date: August 12, 1997

To: William F. Wasley, Director, Law Enforcement & Investigations thru J. Linton Jordal, Assistant Director

Attached is a final report outlining the law enforcement activity that occurred during the 1997 Rainbow Family gathering, Ochoco National Forest, Pacific Northwest Region, during the months of June and July.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

/s/ John M. Carpenter
Supervisory Special Agent

cc Kim Thorsen

Tom Lyons

June 15 through July 13, 1997)


The 1997 Rainbow Family Gathering was held in the State of Oregon on the Ochoco National Forest, during the months of June and July. Approximately 20,000 + individuals attended this year's gathering.

A Unified Command was established between the USDA Forest Service (FS), Oregon State Police (OSP), Crook County Sheriff's Department, Deschutes County Sheriff's Department, Wheeler County Sheriff's Department, and the Prineville City Police Department to manage the law enforcement and public safety aspects of this large, non-commercial group use event.

Rainbow Family Estimated Daily Population

Average  11,300
High     20,000
Low       1,250


FS Agents received a report of a large cache of firearms at the gathering site which were supposedly intended to be used to "ambush" law enforcement officers. A subsequent search of the area where the cache was reported to be located resulted in no cache of firearms being found.

FS and OSP officers documented a significant amount of illegal narcotics use during the gathering. On three separate occasions, during an approximately three hour period, officers observed a total of 26 narcotics transactions taking place inside the gathering area. These transactions involved marijuana, "paper acid"/LSD, hashish oil, illegal mushrooms, and valium. Officers observed "open" transactions relating to illegal drugs during this time and a large number of individuals were observed trading marijuana for various items. In addition, numerous individuals were observed using marijuana openly. Law enforcement personnel seized various types of paraphernalia containing marijuana residue during the event.

FS Officers and Special Agents referred two felony possession of a controlled substance cases to local authorities for prosecution. These cases involved marijuana and illegal mushrooms. FS Officers issued 18 Notices of Violation for Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana.

On June 21, five subjects, identified as organizers of this year's Rainbow Family gathering, were each issued a Notice of Violation by FS law enforcement personnel for Unauthorized Use/Occupancy of National Forest System lands, failure to apply and obtain the required non-commercial group use special use permit. The estimated size of the group at this time was approximately 2,000. The investigation was coordinated with the United States Attorney's Office, Portland, Oregon. On June 22, a subject who identified herself as a Rainbow Family member, applied for a special use permit. On June 24, the Forest Service issued this subject a special use permit for occupancy of National Forest System lands. The original cases, involving the five organizers of the gathering who were initially cited, was subsequently dismissed by the United States Attorney's Office.

Prineville Police Department investigated a Theft Third Degree at the Ochoco Thriftway, which escalated into a Robbery Second Degree. Security detained one suspect for Shoplifting and another Rainbow Family follower interfered with a 6' to 7' walking stick.

Prineville Police Department responded to reports of a man shooting a handgun at several young people in downtown Prineville. Subsequent investigation revealed that a 29 year old male resident and a 39 year old female resident thought several young people, whom they believed to be associated with the Rainbow Family Gathering, were making derogatory remarks toward the man and woman. The two subjects then went back to their resident, obtained a .38 caliber revolver and returned to the parking lot of Morgan's Cinnabar Lounge. The male subject then pointed the revolver at several of the young people and announced that if they didn't shut up, he would "blow their heads off". He then fired two rounds directly towards them. Them man and woman left the scene quickly and returned home. Officers from Prineville Police Department subsequently contacted the suspects at their residence, where they recovered the revolver, which was still cocked and loaded. The subjects were arrested. It was found that the young people who had been shot at were not Rainbow Family people but they were local residents who were in no way associated with the Rainbows. Alcohol intoxication was a factor in this matter. The male subject was charged with Attempted Murder, Attempted Assault in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Deadly Weapon and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. He was lodged in the Crook County Jail without bail. The female subject was conditionally released at the jail.

FS, OSP, and Deschutes County Canine Deputy searched part of the "A Camp" (alcohol use area of the gathering) for a reported sexual abuser. It was reported by the Rainbow Family members that a 40 year old WMA was living there with two 14 year old females and was trading sex for food. The search was unsuccessful; however, on arrival, a younger male was seen running from the area. A search for the male subject using the canine unit was unsuccessful in locating him.

One Rainbow Family shuttle driver, who was transporting Rainbow Family gatherers at the time, was arrested by OSP on a felony warrant out of Utah for Possession of Methamphetamine, with bail set at $10,000. He was felony suspended and was also charged with DUII and Possessions of Less Than an Ounce of Marijuana.

Logging was occurring on a FS spur road used by Rainbow Family people as a back door to the gathering. Two FS officers responded along with officers from OSP to assist FS with a confrontation between several Rainbow Family members and loggers. m e permit for logging allowed loggers to block roads during falling and loading. The Rainbow Family people demanded the loggers move their equipment; and one Rainbow Family member climbed a loader to gain attention. This action resulted in a verbal discussion between the loader operator and log truck driver. A complaint of menacing involving a Rainbow Family person with a knife was lodged. The Rainbow people agreed to work with FS and loggers to develop a schedule when cars could use the road.

While conducted a traffic stop, FS officers discovered two military explosive devices in a subject's vehicle. The subject stated he was in the military and his sergeant had given him the devices. The subject was subsequently arrested by OSP for Possession of Destructive Devices, a Class C Felony.

During the early part of the gathering, FS Officers heard what appeared to be a small caliber rifle shot coming from Indian Prairie. Other reports of shots being fired were given to an employee from the FS the previous day. Subsequent investigation of the incidents was unsuccessful in determining any suspect(s).


FS and Crook County Sheriff's Responded to fatal motor vehicle accident on FS Road 22, June 15, 1997.

FS set up medical tent which was staffed 24-hours a day near the gathering site at the Big Summit Ranger Station. The tent was staffed by medical personnel from Prineville, Oregon.

A bicycle accident resulted in one subject being treated for head injuries. Several days later, the subject returned with major infections in the wounds inflicted during his bicycle accident. He indicated he had been using several kinds of illicit drugs and participating in group mud bathing since the accident. He refused treatment again and left the medical tent.

One subject was treated for second degree burns as a result of her dress catching on fire from a campfire. She was treated at the medical tent and then transported to the local hospital, where she was treated and released.

One female subject was transported to the Prineville hospital for hemorrhaging.

Numerous subjects were treated for cuts and infections.

Four subjects suffering from overdoses were treated.

The Oregon Health Division recommended that all ground water at the gathering site be boiled as water resources were contaminated.


Ten missing juvenile runaways were returned to their families by law enforcement personnel. Numerous reports of Juvenile runaways and missing persons were received by cooperating law enforcement agencies.

A one page flyer was distributed by unknown subject(s) in Prineville, OR which invited kids and young adults to join in drinking of the nectar of the gods, nakedness, beauty, love and sharing along with a warning to anyone who tries to stop their recruiting would suffer their damnations. The flyer was signed "Rainbow News". It was disturbing to many residents of Prineville.

Rainbow Family members routinely attempted to control law enforcement access in the gathering, particularly in the main meadow area of Indian Prairie and bus village. Family members attempted to accompany law enforcement personnel during foot patrol and routinely yelled "six up" in an apparent attempt to warn other members of law enforcement presence. Rainbow Family members used CBs and other radio communication to notify other members of law enforcements presence and actions.

Two Forest Service Special Agents and the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) were interfered with and harassed by Rainbow Family members while driving through the bus village area of the gathering. Approximately 12 subjects attempted to stop the Agents from driving through the area, yelled obscenities and pounded on the Agent's vehicle with their fists. The Agents and AUSA were able to exit the area safely.

Conflicts between local residents/permittees and Rainbow Family members occurred, particularly involving the use of FS Road 2630. Rainbow Family members attempted to block public access on this road in what appeared to be an attempt to control access to the "Welcome Home" area of the gathering.

Minor vandalism occurred to road signs and logging equipment on an active timber sale in the vicinity of the gathering site. Law enforcement personnel received reports of possible timber protest activity by environmental activists, although no serious incidents were reported. Information was distributed by a group calling themselves "Oregonians for Environmental Rights" near Barter Village in the main meadow area of the gathering. Earth First publications were distributed at this site.

FS Officers were potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens during an attempt to control an individual exhibiting psychotic behavior as a result of a drug overdose along FS Road 22.

Between June 18 and July 2, 1997, FS law enforcement dispatch in Prineville, Oregon experienced a series of aggravating phone calls. The caller identified himself as "Ranger Malone" and attempted to gain information relating to law enforcement activities associated with the Rainbow Family gathering. The caller became abusive with his language when he was unable to gain the information he requested.

Law enforcement personnel responded to the Ochoco Forest Supervisor's Office in Prineville as a result of an individual exhibiting strange behavior. Officers determined the subject was mentally disturbed and had recently been released from a mental hold in a local hospital. The subject was later seen at the Rainbow Family gathering by law enforcement personnel.

FS Officers responded to numerous reports of narcotics use and nudity at the Walton Lake Recreation Area. Hypodermic needles were found discarded at Walton Lake Campground.

There were several thousand dogs at the gathering site, many of which appeared to be abandoned with one reported case of the Parvo virus, which can remain in the ground for up to a year. A number of small grave sites were located within the area, presumably containing dogs. There is the probability that the Parvo will spread to the area's coyote population.

Parking was a problem, particularly on FS 2630. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 - 7,000 vehicles were present during the peak of the gathering, July 4. Wheeler County Sheriff's Department, in cooperation with FS Officers, towed vehicles blocking the road or inhibiting traffic flow.

Oregon Health Division conducted a health and medical surveillance during the gathering. They reported a latrine problem because of the large crowds.

The Warm Springs Indian Tribe and Wasco Indian Tribe contacted the FS and reminded them of their duty to protect forest lands in the area of the gathering. This land is deeded property of the Tribes. They wanted special attention given to any of the sacred grounds (It is unknown if any of the gathering area was actually on sacred grounds).

Some local businesses reported a loss in business due to people loitering outside their establishments in the Prineville, Oregon area. Numerous cases of shoplifting occurred, particularly at the Ochoco Plaza.



Reporting Period June 15 - July 13, 1997
Law Enforcement Personnel Assigned
(June 20 - June 23) 15
(June 24 - June 30) 23
(July 1 - July 6) 29
(July 7 - July 13) 7
Support Personnel Assigned
(June 20 - July 13) 1
Forest Service Law Enforcement Activity (Summary Report)
Total Law Enforcement Incidents 680
Violation Notices Issued 142
Federal Arrests 0
Assists on State Arrests 11
Violations Reported
Possession Controlled Substance (Felony) Cases Filed 2
Possession Controlled Substance (Misdemeanor) Cases Filed 18
Possession Controlled Substance (Misdemeanor) No Cases Filed 24
Distribution of a Controlled Substance No Cases Filed 26
Possession Destructive Device 1
Stolen Vehicles 5
Stolen Property/Assault 1
Alcohol Violations 12
Recovered Weapons/Pistol 1
Being Publicly Nude (Walton Lake Campground) 12
Interference/False Reports 22
Disorderly Conduct 5
Fire Violations 18
Sanitation 19
Timber/Forest Products 5
Fish and Wildlife 4
Government Property 7
Occupancy and Use 101
Forest Roads and Trails 173
Off Road Operations 8
User Fees 2
Developed Recreation Sites 6
Wilderness Use 2
Agency Assist (Medical) 83
Agency Assist (Warrants/Bolos) 25
Public Assists/Motorists 62
Personal Property 5
Endangered Species 1
ATL/Law Enforcement 23
Motor Vehicle Accidents (Fatal) 1
Motor Vehicle Accidents (Other) 6


Reporting Period : June 25 - July 9, 1997
Officers Assigned
High 25
Low 6
Average 16.50
Law Enforcement Activities
Hazardous Violations 132
Other 409
Warnings 541
Other Activities
Carrying Concealed Weapons 1
Assault 1
Missing Persons 2
Runaways Located (Returned to Parents) 10
Possession Controlled Substance (Felony) 1
Possessions Controlled Substance 7
Prescription Seized (Warned) 1
False Information to Police Officer 4
DRE Evaluation 1
Recovered Stolen Vehicle 2
Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle 2
Warrants Served 14
Found Property 1
Truck Inspections 2
Suspicious Person 2
Mental Hold 1
Vehicle Interdictions 17
Consent Search with Dog 1
Motorist Assists 5
Public Assist 1
Firecrackers Seized (Warned) 1
Angler Checks 6
Boat Checks 1
Marine Board Violations 2


Reporting Period : June 13 - July 7, 1997
Officers Assigned
Open Container 2
Other Traffic Violations 29
Other Activities
Theft II 1
Possession of Marijuana 1
Motor Vehicle Accident (Fatal) 1
Motor Vehicle Accident (Other) 1
Warrant Arrest 3
Report of Kidnapping 1
Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle 2
Missing Persons 1
Found Property 1
Runaway Juveniles 2
Disorderly Conduct 1
Information Reports 7
Abandoned Vehicles 2
Other Traffic 1


Reporting Period June 23 - July 7, 1997
Officers Assigned 2
Activities Reported
Assists to Other Agencies 100
Warning Notices Issued 70


Reporting Period June 23 - July 7, 1997
Officers Assigned 2
Activities Reported: No reports available as of 8/12/97.


Reporting Period: June 1 - July 13, 1997
Officers Assigned N/A
Activities Reported:
Total Cases 337
Rainbow Related Cases 117
Missing Persons 9
Narcotics Cases 22
Total CAD Entries 3,257
Rainbow Related CAD Entries 348
CAD Vehicle Stops 1,210
Rainbow Family Arrests by Crime
AGA-Runaway Juvenile 1
Begging 3
Burglary 1
Criminal Trespass 11
Detoxification 3
Disorderly Conduct 3
Drinking in Public 2
Drug Crimes 9
False Information to Police 2
Failure to Present License 4
Forgery 1
Harassment 2
Minor in Possession of Alcohol 6
Minor in Possession of Tobacco 2
Misrepresenting Age 1
Offensive Littering 2
Robbery 3
Theft III 69
Warrants 5

Note: Reported incidents by Prineville Police Department occurred within the city limits or immediate vicinity of Prineville, Oregon.

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