USA v. RAINBOW FAMILY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OP AMERICA,
v. Civil Action No. 96-183
THE RAINBOW FAMILY,
a/k/a RAINBOW NATION,
aka RAINBOW FAMILY OF LIVING LIGHT,
a/k/a GATHERING OF TRIBES,
THE RAINBOW FAMILY VISION COUNCIL,
THE RAINBOW FAMILY TRIBAL COUNCIL,
THE RAINBOW FAMILY COUNCIL,
and UNKNOWN MEMBERS,
PARTICIPANTS IN THE 1996 OSCEOLA FAMILY GATHERING,
AND ELIZABETH A. CREMIN,
FRANCIS XAVIER COBB,
JEFFREY P. MCCONNAUGHEY,
JAMES A. PIRTLE,
LAURA MAE EVANS.
JENNIFER W. FRYDRYCHOWSKI,
WILLIAM D. ADAMS,
ERIC W. EASTRIDGE,
DAVID JAMES CAPPIELLO,
CARL D. JAMES,
ROBERT J. FULLER,
RACHEL L. VAUGHN,
TIMOTHY M. MONNOT,
GRETCHEN K. STUART,
SHEILA L. GILMER,
DAVID C. BESSEL,
CURTIS R. TIEDT,
CHAD P. BULAU,
DANIEL A. FOUNTAIN,
SHANA H. EVANS,
WILLIAM WAYNE CRISPIN,
INDIVIDUALLY, and as representatives of the class of
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
1. In this action, plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that
United States Department of Agriculture regulations
concerning noncommercial group uses of the national forests, are
valid under the United States constitution. Plaintiff also seeks
an injunction against the Defendants from violating the
regulations at issue.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. This court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1331, 28 U.S.C. secs. 2201-2202, and 16 U.S.C.
secs. 528-531. Venue in this district is proper pursuant to 28
U.S.C. sec. 1391(b).
3. The plaintiff in this action is the United States of
America. The United States Department of Agriculture is an
executive department of the United States of America and is
responsible for protecting and administering the United States
National Forests, including responsibility for promulgating and
enforcing regulations with respect to National Forest Service
lands including the regulations at issue.
4. On information and belief, the individual defendants are
members of the Rainbow Family (also known as, inter alia, the
Rainbow Nation. the Rainbow Family of Living Light, and the
Gathering of Tribes, the Rainbow Family Vision Council, the
Rainbow Family Tribal Council, and the Rainbow Family scout
council), a loosely-knit organization of persons who gather
together in the national forests to Celebrate peace and harmony
with nature and with one another.
On information and belief, the individual defendants
are participants in the ongoing 1996 Rainbow Family gathering on
the Osceola National Forest who have either identified themselves
to Forest Service officers by producing driver's licenses or
aliases For example, defendant "Wakeem" has identified himself
to Forest Service officers as being in charge of running the "A"
(or "Alcohol") camp the gathering: defendant "Butterfly" has
identified herself to Forest Service officers as being in charge
of the "Granola Funk Kitchen" at the gathering; defendant "Adam"·
has identified himself as being at the "Welcome Home" position at
the gathering; defendant: "Jose" has identified himself as being
in charge of the latrine digging for the gathering; And defendant
"Bob Jones," who is also a participant in the gathering, has
identified himself as an Elder of the Rainbow Family.
DEFENDANT CLASS ACTION
6. Plaintiff brings this suit against the Rainbow Family as a
defendant class. A class action can be maintained in this case
pursuant to Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. Rule 23(b)(2), on the basis
that class members have acted or refused to act on grounds
generally applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate
final declaratory and injunctive relief applicable to the class
as a whole.
7. The prerequisites to class certification under Fed.
(a) The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
(b) There are questions of law or fact common to the class.
Rainbow Family members have refused to comply with permit
requirements of the Forest service regulations at issue. 35
C.F.R. Part 251(b) (effective as of September 29, 1995, see 60
Fed. Reg. 45258) which relates to noncommercial group uses of the
national forests, on the basis that such regulations violate
their rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
(c) The defenses of the named defendants are typical of the
defenses of the claims of all class members, particularly the
alleged violation of First Amendment rights.
(d) The defendants who are representatives of the class have
the requisite personal interest in the outcome of this action and
will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
8. The regulations at issue concerning noncommercial group
uses of the National Forest system lands and the instances in
which Permits for such uses are required, are found at 36 C.F.R.
Part 251, subpart B ("group use regulations").
9. The group use regulations were promulgated by the Secretary
of Agriculture, Pursuant to his statutory authority to proscribe
rules and regulations concerning uses and preservation of lands
under the National Forest System. See 16 U.S.C. sec. 472; 16
U.S.C. sec. 551; 16 U.S.C. sec. 515.
10. The United States Forest Service, an agency of the
United States Department of Agriculture. is charged with managing
the resources of the National Forest System far multiple uses as
well as for the provision of goods, services, and other amenities
for future generations. The Forest Service is authorized to
manage diverse public, private, governmental, and commercial uses
of National Forest system lands. 16 U.S.C. secs. 528-531.
11. On May 6, 1993, the Forest Service published a proposed
rule to regulate noncommercial group uses of National Forest
System Lands in compliance with First Amendment requirements of
freedom of speech and assembly. The purpose of the rule was to
allow the Forest Service to protect forest resources, to address
concerns of public health and safety, and to allocate space among
different group uses. After an extensive notice and Comment
period, a final rule was adopted and became effective on
September 29, 1995.
12. Under the group use regulations, when use of certain
National Forest System lands by a group of 75 persons or more as
desired, a proponent of the gathering is required to complete and
return an application for a permit or "special use authorization"
to the Forest Service at least 72 hours in advance of the
activity. 35 C.F.R. sec. 251.54(a) & (f). The information in the
application is restricted to general information
concerning the time, place and manner for activities subject to
the rule. 36 C.F.R. S 251.54(p).
13. The authorized Forest service officer will evaluate
applications for noncommercial group uses according to specific,
content-neutral criteria related to the protection of the
environment, public health and safety. and allocation of space
and resources within the national forests. 36 C.F.R. sec.
14. All applications for noncommercial group uses are deemed
granted and a special use authorization issued for those uses
unless an application is denied within 48 hours of receipt. 36
C.F.R. § 251.54(f)(5).
15. It an application is denied because it does not meet the
regulatory criteria, the authorized officer will notify the
applicant in writing of the reasons for the denial. 36 C.F.R. sec
251.54(h)(2). If an alternative time, place, or manner will allow
the applicant to meet the requisite criteria, the authorized
officer is required to offer that alternative. Id.
16. Since approximately the last week of January or the first
week of February, 1996, Rainbow Family members have been
gathering on a site in the Osceola National Forest, Florida. The
gathering is ongoing and expected to run through the week of
February 26. 1996.
17. On or around February 2, 1996, U.S. Forest Service
District Ranger Keith Lawrence met with approximately five to six
participants in the Rainbow Family gathering in the Osceola
("Rainbow Family gathering"), including one individual who
identified himself as "Jose."
18. District Ranger Lawrence provided each individual with a
printed notice stating that non commercial activities involving
more than 75 people require a permit, as well as an application
For a special use authorization under the group use regulations.
19. On or around February 2, 1996, Forest Service officers
posted additional notice of the permit: requirement at the
bathroom facilities around the site of the Rainbow Family
gathering and along the entrance roads to that site.
20. On or around February 5 to February 6, 1996, the Rainbow
Family gathering at the Osceola National Forest exceeded 75
21. To date, no application for a spacial use authorization
has been/ received by the Forest Service with respect to the
Rainbow Family gathering nor has the Rainbow Family given any
indication that such application will be filed.
22. The "Rainbow Guide for 1995, Summer Edition" indicates
that the forest Service group use regulations are
unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution. See Attachment 1.
23. Since approximately February 5 to February 6. 1996, any
and all participants in the 1996 Rainbow Family gathering in the
Osceola National Forest have violated the Forest Service group
24. Plaintiff realizes and incorporates herein paragraghs 1
to 23 above.
25. By intentionally and knowingly failing to apply for a
special use authorization under 36 C.F.R.. sec 251(b) and holding a
gathering of over 75 persons in the Osceola National Forest,
defendants are in violation of plaintiff's group use regulations.
Pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment: Act, 28 U.S.C. sec.
2202, Plaintiff prays that the Court:
A. Declare that plaintiff's group use regulations, 36 C.F.R.
§ 251(b) comply with the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution and are otherwise legally valid.
B. Declare that the 1996 Rainbow Family Gathering in the
Osceola National Forest is in violation of plaintiff's group use
C. Enjoin the defendants and their officers, employees,
agents, servants, contractors, and attorneys, and all those
acting in concert with them, from attending, conducting or
participating in any way in a gathering within the National
Forests in the states of Florida and elsewhere in the United
States in violation of the group use regulations.
D. Order the defendants to take such affirmative actions as
to provide notice of the injunction to Rainbow Family members
inform all means of available public and private media and to
inform all members of the Rainbow Family that a violation of the
injunction is punishable by contempt of this court.
Award the United States its costs of suit and any other
relief/to which it may be entitled under the law.
FRANK W. HUNGER
Assistant Attorney General
CHARLES R. WILSON
United States Attorney
Assistant United States Attorney
Florida Bar No. 075 0069
THOMAS W. MILLET
ANJALI A. ASHLEY
U.S. Department Of Justice
801 E Street, N.W..
Room 1026 U.S, U.S.
OF COUNSEL:Leslie Lagmarcino
Officer of the General Counsel
Department of Agriculture
Attorneys for Plaintiff