Standoff's Violent End Upsets Few in Vandalia

  Standoff's Violent End Upsets Few in Vandalia

Posted by FoM on September 05, 2001 at 07:58:03 PT
By Mark Hornbeck, Detroit News Lansing Bureau 
Source: Detroit News 

This poor, conservative farming village in southwest Michigan, where federal agents killed two men at a campground that promoted marijuana use, isn't an anti-government enclave or a haven for extremists, residents say. "This is a nice, quiet town. The people here are not what you would call revolutionaries," said Dale Williams, owner of Trail's End Bait Shop.  The confrontation at Rainbow Farm, in which Thomas Crosslin and Rolland Rohm died, "was coming for years, with those people out there advertising marijuana," said Williams while selling bait to a customer. 
"They were rubbing the cops' noses in it. I never would have guessed they'd get shot. But this is not Waco, Texas."  Crosslin, 47, was shot dead Monday after a weekend-long standoff with federal and local authorities over felony drug and weapons charges. On Tuesday, Rohm, 28, met the same fate.  Crosslin and five others were arrested on drug charges in May after a two-year investigation of marijuana use at Rainbow Farm, a 34-acre campground that endorsed marijuana for medical, spiritual and recreational purposes. The ongoing tensions led to the weekend showdown, authorities said.  Rainbow Farm was a local oddity, out of sync with the area.  "What is the impact of these shootings on our town? Zero," said Rocco Papandrea, owner of a water filtration business and 30-year resident of Vandalia. "These guys weren't really part of the community. They really didn't have anything to do with us."  "If they raised their guns at FBI officers, then the FBI guys have to look out for themselves," said Jessica Burt, a clerk in Papandrea's office.  Not everyone agreed with the FBI's actions. According to a handful who held vigil for the dead men, the events of this week put Vandalia on the same level as Waco and Ruby Ridge, the infamous sites of government-citizen gun battles in the 1990s.  "It happened here in Vandalia this week, and it's happening all over the U.S.," said Trina Moss of Hillsdale County, who was among a small group of protesters huddled near a campfire on the east side of town. "Government is over-reaching people's lives, and the sad thing is we're paying them to look up our butts with a magnifying glass."  Moss stood near crudely drawn messages on plywood hung from road signs along M-60 with references to Waco. "They killed them," one placard announced.   Atypical Town  The deadly climax set Vandalia apart from its historic roots and from the rest of bedrock conservative western Michigan.  Its residents would rather their town be known as a key stop on the Underground Railroad, a place that offered shelter to fleeing slaves from Indiana and Illinois before the Civil War. The area is home to many African Americans, some of whom are descendants of the runaway slaves who settled there.  Vandalia is not a typical bedrock Republican, Christian Reformed, western Michigan town. The only apparently active church in the downtown area was a Buddhist temple. There is one red brick church that is boarded up and overgrown with weeds.  The farming community of about 360 people was devastated a few years ago when its major employer, Bivouac, a van customizing company, moved to Indiana.  The ochre-colored pole barns that Bivouac left behind provided training and target practice facilities for FBI agents and state police involved in the standoff with Crosslin and Rohm.  Raymon Neal, a Detroit native who is a 10-year resident of Vandalia, was surprised by the gun battle.  "Why now? The police have known for years what they were up to at Rainbow Farm," Neal said. "I'm surprised it came to this. But I can tell you, the people around here didn't want that drug activity going on so close to town."  Police said Crosslin and Rohm drew their guns before they were shot.  But Gerry Livermore, mother of Rollie Rohm, said she doubts that is what happened. "I know Rollie wouldn't put his life in jeopardy knowing that he has a 13-year-old son to care for," said Livermore, visibly shaken and weary after a long drive to Vandalia from her home in Rogersville, Tenn.  During the standoff, police said it appeared a house and four main buildings on the campground property were burned. Authorities also said Crosslin shot a news helicopter as it flew overhead Friday. Shots also were fired at an unmarked state police plane Saturday but missed, police said. Both aircraft landed safely without injuries.  Crosslin's uncle, George Colwell, said the shootings were "very unnecessary. Very uncalled for. It's murder. I feel like this is another Waco." Note: But some see shades of Waco, Ruby Ridge in deaths of 2 men.Source: Detroit News (MI)Author: Mark Hornbeck, Detroit News Lansing BureauPublished: September 5, 2001Copyright: 2001, The Detroit News Contact: letters Website: Related Articles & Web Site:Rainbow Farm Campground Farm Known for Sex, Drugs -- Now Deaths Continue Search of Campground Kill Second Man at Rainbow Farms Articles - Crosslin 

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Comment #2 posted by meagain on September 08, 2001 at 05:01:15 PT

Wrong answer
Rainbow Farm was a local oddity, out of sync with the area. Excuse me half the people asked to sign the PRA petition are signing it. That shows you Rainbow Farm has been part of the community.strange this article doesn't mention the things that they did for the community. This article is bs.
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on September 05, 2001 at 09:41:52 PT:

Wolves need to eat; what's their excuse?
Why have we not seen an investigation of the ammo that was shot at the news helicopter? I know that the authorities often plant people in peaceful protests to cause a ruckus so they will have an excuse to use force to disrupt the protest; can they offer any assurances whatsoever that the bullets fired on the news helicopter were not fired by the police? We already know that they were stationed near the house (otherwise, they would not have had the opportunity to fire on Tom Crosslin and Rolland Rohm)--when can we have some evidence that the shots were, in fact, fired by someone affiliated with the campground?I realize I'm sounding quite conspiratorial, but they sure are inviting this by remaining hush-hush about the whole thing, then trying to cover their tracks by demonizing their victims. So, this reporter interviewed three people who didn't like the Rainbow Farm, then generalized those people's narrow mindset to the entire town. The responses reported in this article sound vaguely familiar--something like "they deserved a hangin'. We don't like their kind, so they got what they deserved fer comin' 'round here." Bigots.Dan B
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