Regional Special Agent in Charge
August 12, 1996
This is in response to our conversation concerning the 1996 Rainbow Gathering.
It appeared at the onset that there was little coordination with the U.S.
Attorneys office that handled that district in Missouri. The only direction I
remember getting that would involve the U.S. Attorney's office was to try not
to arrest anyone under Federal Statutes as there was not any jail space and the
Federal Magistrate was going to be gone on vacation.
In relation to the above paragraph, the Rainbow Family, early on in the
process, requested a 20 MPH speed limit be placed upon the road from the
Highway to the "Front Gate" of the gathering. This was done by Supervisor's
Order and radar units were borrowed from the local county Sheriffs Office.
There was no clear direction given on where we were to draw the line between a
Warning Notice for Speed and a Violation Notice. Shift Supervisors were
allowed to set up whatever parameters they wanted. My shift wrote Violation
Notices for 28 MPH and above. I an unsure what the other shift did. My
concern in all of this is that because of lack of coordination with the U.S,
Attorney's Office we were later told that the U.S. Attorney's Office was going
to dismiss all citations that were written between 20 and 30 MPH, This should
have been known from the first, before we started writing Violation Notices .
"Safety Checkpoints" were established on the County/Forest Road that led to
the Gathering site. I do not believe the checkpoints were set up in accordance
with Missouri State Law until after I had asked several Highway Patrol Officers
what the law was and did our checkpoint meet the state criteria and then
discussed this with Jim Scott and Mike Ashby. After this discussion we
received signs to set up in the road so the checkpoint would conform with
Missouri state law but this was after several days of having a checkpoint set
up and many Violation Notices written. There was no written plan, diagram or
supervisors signature on 8 plan that I ever saw. The diagram, plan and
signature may be Missouri Highway Patrol policy rather than state law but every
place I: have been if you have a checkpoint you have to have at least some kind
of plan in place particularly if the checkpoint is going to be run 24 hrs a day
for 10 days.
(Jon, you may delete this if you went as I am not sure of the facts - but I am
not sure if you can set up a checkpoint to target a particular group. If that
group is conducting an illegal event then I: believe you can, but if the event
is legal, which this one was, then can you set up a checkpoint to target that
particular group?? When the gathering was held on the Superior Z was told the
checkpoint had to be set up on Highway 61 so as not to target one particular
group. Anyway, I: am not sure of the case law on this issue.)
One final point that bothered me was that we were checking registration and
insurance at the "Safety Checkpoint" under the auspices of a Supervisors Order
for "Violation of any Missouri State Law". I heard of several Violation
Notices being issued for no proof of insurance and not having proof of
registration. I talked later to a Missouri Highway Patrol Sergeant who advised
me that it was not required to have proof of insurance in your vehicle.' You
had to be insured, but there was no law that said you had to maintain proof of
insurance in your vehicle. Also you do not have to carry your registration
papers in the vehicle with you. If the vehicle is not registered you will
receive a citation but you don't have to have the papers with you in the
vehicle. As a consequence of this lack of communication and coordination with
state and local authorities our LEO's and Officers from other Federal Agencies
wrote Violation Notices on things that were not state law.
In closing - I was asked to sit in on meetings between Line and concerning
how things should and should not be handled in and around the gathering in
relation to Law Enforcement. I am a firm believer in Law Enforcement but I
also realize that we still work with, and for, the line officers of the Forest
Service. I do not feel that LE made an effort to work with line in resolving
the many issues that we were faced with. I feel the LE personnel involved went
to the chief without trying to work things out internally and this led to
greater chaos than was necessary.
/a/ John F. Smith
John F."Pancho" Smith
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