Rainbow Family Gathering includes federal courtroom
Posted Jun 27, 2014 3:07 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward
The Rainbow Family of Living Light, a free spirited group that meets and camps on federal land annually with the goal of achieving peace and love on earth—although an attendee was recently arrested for attempted murder—has itsown federal courtroom at this year’s gathering, which takes place near Heber City, Utah.
A federal magistrate hears matters in a camp trailer-turned-courtroom, Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman with the Utah U.S. attorney’s office, told the Salt Lake Tribune. According to the Associated Press the event is expected to draw approximately 10,000 people.
Rydalch mentioned that Utah federal courthouses in Salt Lake City, St. George and Moab are long distances from Heber City, which is near the Wasatch Front.
"It’s more efficient to have court up there," she said. According to the Tribune, federal marshals, prosecutors and public defenders rode to the remote site together, and hearings were held Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead. So far, the Forest Service has issued 21 citations, ranging from marijuana possession to off-leash dogs.
Karin Zirk, who told the newspaper that she has attended the Gathering for 25 years, says that the mobile federal courts are common. According to her, some see it as harassment for minor offenses.
"Sometimes I feel like the forest service law enforcement are trying to provide a show of strength in the hopes that they’re going to intimidate people," she said. "But that doesn’t really fly well in a group of counterculture people. I don’t know how well it flies anywhere, but I can totally tell you it doesn’t fly well in this community."
According to the AP, the Wasatch County Sheriff's office expects to find marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine in the next few weeks.Also, Lelilani M. Novak-Garcia, who reportedly goes by the nickname “Hitler,” was arrested at the Rainbow Family Gathering for attempted murder Monday, the St. George News reports. She accused of stabbing a Salt Lake City man multiple times.
A Forest Service representative told the AP that for the most part, Rainbow Gathering attendees have cooperated with officials and want to know how they can limit their negative impact on federal land.