Ashes At The End of Rainbow Farm

Ashes At The End of Rainbow Farm
Posted by CN Staff on June 20, 2006 at 07:40:00 PT
By Michael H. Hodges, The Detroit News
Source: Detroit News
Michigan -- Some call it Michigan's own mini-Waco. Just one week before the September 11 terrorist attacks, FBI and state police sharpshooters took out the two owners of a pro-marijuana, libertarian enterprise known as Rainbow Farm in the southwest corner of the state.The dead men, Tom Crosslin and Rolland Rohm, had been charged with growing marijuana, running a "public nuisance" with their yearly hemp festivals, and operating a "drug house." Weapons charges also were filed.
The question that lingers five years later is how in the world a minor-league dope bust managed to go so wrong, and how this stoner utopia, albeit one with connections to the Michigan Militia, passed in just a few months from flawed paradise to nightmare -- a small-town tragedy detailed in a new book by Dean Kuipers, "Burning Rainbow Farm."At the heart of the story are two men, neither of whom was apparently willing to back down. One was Crosslin, whose belief that the government shouldn't control what adults put in their own bodies was absolute. He's now buried in a family vault.The other was Scott Teter, the Cass County prosecutor in 2001.Some paint what went on at Rainbow Farm as lawbreaking, pure and simple -- and lawbreaking of a morally corruptive sort. But for Crosslin and much of the ragtag community that gathered around the farm, his was a principled stand, an act of civil disobedience aimed at the War on Drugs.Like the FBI and state police, Teter, who now works in the Michigan attorney general's office, says he is prohibited from commenting on account of a pending wrongful death suit on behalf of Rohm.As for the people of the town of Vandalia, opinions still are sharply divided about the outcome. A Tale of Two Sides One of the big questions looming is whether putting FBI and Michigan State Police sharpshooters in the woods -- as opposed to starving the two men out -- was the right step."I just don't think they had to kill Tom and Rollie to get them," says Sondra Ursery, who was Vandalia's mayor at the time. "They were just two men."Others maintain Crosslin and Rohm got precisely what they wanted, says Dale Williams, who owns Trail's End Sports in Vandalia."The rumor was they committed suicide," he says, "to draw attention to their cause."The FBI has always maintained that the two men raised their guns at federal agents, who had little choice but to shoot to kill.But Crosslin's brother, Jimmy, who still lives a couple miles from the farm, insists that even agents on the scene were shocked by what finally went down."When my brother got killed," he says, sitting outside his garage, wearing a baseball cap with a marijuana leaf emblazoned on it, "me and my son went kind of crazy."The cops were trying to push us back," he adds, "but there was one state trooper there who had tears in his eyes. He knew it wasn't right."Author Kuipers, a Kalamazoo native now living in Los Angeles, first heard of the case when the Sept. 9 edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette arrived in his mailbox with Rainbow Farm splayed all over the front page.What snagged him, he says, was that the case "shows the way that we really use the drug war laws." Legal tools intended to break drug kingpins -- like forfeiture of property -- end up, in Kuipers' view, getting applied to cases like this, "a nuisance complaint," he says, "that has nothing to do with a violent drug dealer." Cannabis Capital of Michigan Jimmy says Crosslin began assembling the property on Pemberton Road that would become Rainbow Farm in 1993. As it evolved, the farm became his life mission.It was the place where Crosslin and Rohm, who were lovers, could raise the latter's son, Robert, and create a community of family and friends, many of whom took up jobs at or near the farm.The idea was to create a farm and campground with services -- eventually including a store, head shop, coffee shop, shower facilities and laundromat -- where alternative folks of all sorts could party without fear of disapproval or police interference.Soon enough, Rainbow Farm was the marijuana capital of Michigan. Crosslin, the politicized member of this pair, was a cannabis crusader and a big supporter of the Personal Responsibility Amendment, an initiative to legalize medical and private use that never made it onto the 2000 state ballot.Those who attended the annual Hemp Aid and Roach Roast festivals -- author Kuipers describes them as "part Woodstock, part union picnic" -- were routinely confronted, says Jimmy Crosslin, by Rainbow Farm activists urging them to register to vote.Doddery bands from the 1960s -- The Byrds and Big Brother and the Holding Company among them -- played Rainbow Farm's various festivals, belting out tunes while giddy festivalgoers slid down the aptly named "Naked Hippie Slide" on a nearby hillside.One rule was absolute, however, according to Jimmy and Crosslin's former manager, Doug Leinbach -- nobody connected to the farm sold pot. Period. Crosslin knew that was an express ticket to prison.In like manner, particularly once Teter began his investigation, hard drugs were actively discouraged. Indeed, a Rainbow Farm flier advertising Hemp Aid 2001 pointedly notes, "Nitrous oxide and other hard drugs suck! So don't bring them!"  A Prosecutor's MissionIt may sound far-fetched that two openly gay guys could run a marijuana campground unmolested in the most conservative corner of the state, but that's how things rolled along for several years. It changed shortly after Teter was elected Cass County prosecutor in 1996.The way the story played out from there seems to have hinged on misjudgment leading to escalation on both sides.In 1999, Crosslin, never a man to hide, began renting billboards to advertise Hemp Aid and Roach Roast.By all accounts, Teter did his level best to catch Crosslin. But the brass ring -- tying the farm to drug sales -- always eluded him, Kuipers says, despite the undercover narcs the prosecutor sent to their festivals.In March 1999, Teter sent Rainbow Farm a letter informing them that he would employ the forfeiture laws that are a key element of the War on Drugs to seize the farm if any hard drugs were ever found.Crosslin's reply was enraged and blunt, snapping that his "friends at the Michigan Militia" -- who'd helped police the hemp festivals one year -- would have ideas on how to handle the prosecutor's threats.Crosslin added that he and his family were willing to die "before we allow (the farm) to be stolen from us."In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombings, invoking the Michigan Militia in connection to a criminal enterprise seems a little like waving a red cape in front of any law-enforcement officer.Teter redoubled his efforts.In May 2001, he sent in officers looking for signs of tax evasion.They didn't find those -- but they did find 301 marijuana seedlings in the basement.The men were arrested and released on bail.A week later, officials seized Rohm's 12-year-old son on a school playground and placed him in foster care.At this point, Crosslin was looking at serious jail time for the marijuana offense, the permanent loss of Rohm's child and all that the men had worked for the previous eight years.Says Dori Leo, his attorney in Kalamazoo, "You understand that (in drug cases), they can take away all your property before you're even convicted. That's what I think tipped Tom over the edge." Fought The Law The endgame came on Aug. 31, 2001, when Rohm and Crosslin were supposed to appear in court.They never made it. Instead, Kuipers says, they signed wills leaving everything to Rohm's son and then alerted their immediate neighbors that they might want to vacate for a few days.The standoff began that Friday.In camouflage fatigues and carrying Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifles, the men began setting fire to the farm's outbuildings. At some point early on, according to press reports, somebody shot at a WNDU-TV news helicopter covering the fires, piercing its skin.Buggy Brown, who worked on a neighboring farm and knew Crosslin and Rohm well, found the area just outside the farm that afternoon swarming with law enforcement.Though he loved hanging out at the farm, Brown says he'd always had a bad feeling about an eventual run-in with the authorities."To tighten the noose around them like that, with (sharpshooters) crawling through the woods, was unnecessary," he says. "But I also know it was inevitable."Crosslin, who was armed at the time, was shot through the forehead Monday afternoon by an FBI sharpshooter, supposedly while retrieving a coffeepot from a neighbor's house.A neighbor's son, Brandon Peoples, who'd sneaked onto the property, was walking right behind him. Fragments of Crosslin's skull cut the young man's face.Kuipers, who has examined the FBI reports, says Peoples never could say whether Crosslin had raised his gun.Rohm, all alone in the house, agreed in late-night negotiations to surrender at 7 a.m. the next morning. Part of the deal was that he'd get to see his son before being taken away.But it didn't work out that way. Around 6 a.m., an upper bedroom in the farmhouse caught fire, and Rohm -- always the cheerful, low-key half of this couple -- was spotted running from the house, rifle in hand.Kuipers reports that state police roared up to the house in an armored vehicle resembling a tank, and ordered Rohm to drop his rifle.Rohm looked scared, according to Kuipers' account, and ran back into the house, possibly to get the couple's dog, Thai Stick.When he ran back out, the police say he took refuge behind a small pine tree and raised his rifle. One bullet fired by a state police sniper went through the butt of Rohm's rifle and into his chest. Like Crosslin, he never fired a shot.Says their attorney Leo, "When an animal does something wrong, we use a tranquilizer. When there's an escalation in human behavior, the criminal-law system moves toward deadly force."I'm not sure that's what America is about," she says. "And I'm not sure that's what the American people want."If Kuipers had to point at anything that caused the conflict to spiral out of control, it would be the Michigan Militia connection -- even though that seems to have been more glancing than substantive. Nonetheless, it formed part of Crosslin's retort to Teter, and may well have laid the groundwork for all that followed.Says Kuipers, "That really put the prosecutor and local police on a kind of war footing."Whether it was out-of-control rebels or heavy-handed government that created the final conflagration, for Jimmy, it all comes down to wasteful deaths in the end."My brother never did harm anybody," he says. "He just had his festivals and did what he could for the town." Rainbow Farm Timeline1993: Tom Crosslin buys the property for Rainbow Farm in Vandalia, Mich. The farm begins holding annual "hemp festivals." 1996: Scott Teter is elected Cass County prosecutor. 1999-2000: Rainbow Farm campaigns for the Personal Responsibility Amendment, a failed measure that sought to legalize private use of marijuana. May 2001: Crosslin and his lover, Rolland Rohm, are arrested for growing marijuana in their house. Rohm's son, Robert, is placed in foster care. August 2001: Crosslin and Rohm skip their court date and begin systematically setting fire to Rainbow Farm. September 2001: Crosslin is killed by FBI sharpshooters on Sept. 3; Rohm is shot the next morning. Note: Deadly ending at pot haven remains mysterious 5 years later.Source: Detroit News (MI)Author: Michael H. Hodges, The Detroit NewsPublished: June 20, 2006Copyright: 2006 The Detroit News Contact: letters Website: Related Articles & Web Site:Tom and Rollie Memorial Page Focus on 2001 Rainbow Farm Shooting Files Lawsuit in Rainbow Death Will Not Forget, Rainbow Farm Supporters
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on August 05, 2006 at 20:46:43 PT
Los Angeles Times: Rainbow Warriors
By Jennifer JosephPublished: August 6, 2006Michigan -- What's a high-school-dropout, Harley-riding, long-haul-trucking, fist-fighting, George W. Bush-supporting, pot-smoking, gay rural Midwestern real estate investor to do when he gets close to 40? For Tom Crosslin, the answer was simple: Buy a 34-acre semi-fallow farm in Michigan's Cass County, move there with a lover 19 years his junior and call it Rainbow Farm.Rainbow Farm was supposed to be a peaceful refuge where Crosslin, his friends and family could "all do some hunting and fishing, ride motorbikes, build big bonfires, smoke weed, make homebrew and spread out." Crosslin's buddies cleared the land, planted vegetables and built a few buildings. He organized summer hoedowns that grew into festivals called Hemp Aid and Roach Roast, featuring marijuana-legalization advocate Jack Herer and comedian Tommy Chong, with music by Merle Haggard and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Eventually, writes Dean Kuipers in "Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke," thousands of "travelers and Rainbow Family crusties, union workers, libertarian fomenters and conspiracy theorists, blue-collar weekenders, academics and spontaneous dancers" paid the farm's admission fees to camp out, smoke pot openly and dig the scene."Burning Rainbow Farm" is the story of how one individual created a safe haven in the middle of America, got politically active and ran afoul of the government. Kuipers, who has written for The Times and is deputy editor of Los Angeles CityBeat, became interested after reading about it in his hometown newspaper, the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette, in 2001.In perhaps the most questionable move since the Hells Angels were hired at Altamont, Crosslin brought in the Michigan Militia to do security at his shows. Instead of guns, they were armed with video cameras to tape law enforcement hassles. An overzealous local prosecutor named Scott Teter was waiting in the wings. Since some local cops had been known to enjoy the festivities at Rainbow Farm during their off hours, he contacted state and federal enforcement agencies. Crosslin's second fatal error was the decision to grow pot in his basement. He had sold most of his real estate holdings to support Rainbow Farm and was running out of money. Whatever his intentions — smoke it? sell it? — when state troopers came in on a bogus tax-fraud warrant, they found more than 200 immature plants, which were all the prosecutor needed for the government to seize Rainbow Farm.  Snipped: Complete Article:
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on June 21, 2006 at 13:22:17 PT
This is an Excerpt About The Drug Years
Excerpt:So the best part of these films is that they are quickly edited, with terrific footage and snappy interviews with Peter Coyote, Ray Manzarek, Jackson Browne, Ice-T, Tommy Chong, John Mellencamp and a host of experts, retired drug dealers and professional opinionators (including Henry Rollins, who seems to be VH1´s go-to guy on every subject). This is history delivered to you by VH1, and perhaps inevitably it has a ¨101 Greatest Moments in Drug History¨ kind of quality. Here´s the basic arc San Francisco was great, then Altamont where that guy got knifed at the Stones concert was a drag, and Charles Manson didn´t help, and then there was Vietnam and heroin and by then 30 million Americans were smoking dope so you got head shops and stoner rock and Colombian Gold, which was too hard to ship, so then you got cocaine and disco and we all have a blast, and then John Belushi died, and African-Americans smoked crack, so you got rap, and then you got rehab, and Reagan and the War on Drugs and parents getting concerned about it all. And that sort of worked, but then the kids started taking ecstasy and it was the ´60s all over again. Except for crystal meth, which makes you look like an angry, toothless gnome. But that´s the way it is. What are you going to do?
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on June 20, 2006 at 22:11:37 PT
Metrotimes: Shot Down on The Farm
June 21, 2006Tom Crosslin was a lot of things. A brawler with a mean streak, a charmer, a bully, a civic do-gooder, a pothead, a don't-tread-on-me rebel, a dreamer and a doer. He was Mr. Party and Mr. Charity and a hustler who envisioned Rainbow Farm, the campground and concert venue he established in western Michigan, as a "company town" for hemp festivals and endless festivities, not to mention a base for pushing a referendum to change state marijuana laws.Complete Article:
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Comment #13 posted by museman on June 20, 2006 at 14:16:02 PT
fading rainbows
Here is the naked truth of it. The way of the sword has only one end. Yet the need and desire to defend one's faith, belief, their lives and dreams seems to me a forgivable offense. This WAR as proven by this travesty to be a device easily used by petty criminals who use the framework of the judicial and representative system in place to create their little domains of power. This horror inflicted upon these undeserving men, their survivors, their friends, and their community is a result of this WAR, is example of an unreproachable juggernaught called Power that is hard at destroying everything but their control. "We hired and equipped a standing army of cops in the 80s and 90s. But instead of posting a cop at every subway station and bus stop in poor neighborhoods to protect people, or to protect our borders, we give the money to SWAT teams out in the middle of nowhere."So true. Starting in 1984, when Reaganbush officially started the WAR.1 year earlier on another less famous, but the original 'Rainbow Farm' the beginning of the WAR was brought to us one morning at dawn. We were (about 30 people including children) all in agreement about 'armed resistence' and I was the first person to confront the guns of the 'posse'. They wore no badges, no uniforms. Local rednecks 'appointed' and armed that morning.If it not for the fact that our town sheriff actually liked us, and gave us about a few minutes warning before the nazis stormed the hill, something else might have happened.The women and children were got safely into the woods, and a handful of us tried to gather our small gardens and run for it. I ended up having to confront the shotguns.As I saw their fingers literally twitching on the triggers, I silently prayed thanks that my family was hidden in the woods. We were careful, and no one was harmed. I eventually won a moral victory (7 days in jail, no fine, no probation-for what they carefully set as 2 felonies- 'manufacture and possession') by both Faith and Truth, but it could so easily have been a bloodbath. There were VietNam vets there that not only were armed, but trained.We chose non-violence and survived. So did the Rainbow Farm, which still exists today though I am about 20 odd years out of touch.2000 years ago give or take, as the story goes, the King of Israel (a Roman puppet) empowered his soldiers to bust into every dwelling and kill the newborns.Less than a generation later the entire nation was slaughtered.For a couple of centuries, being a Jew or a Christian, was an instant death sentence if caught.Then the Muslims slaughtered the rest of the pagans.Then the Christians slaughtered the muslims and Christians alike, because they all looked like Arabs.- the Crusades.The 'civilized' world lived in squalor, filth, fear and ignorance, which proved fertile ground for the Black Plague. Millions died because of the fear of 'witchcraft' so craftily put into the superstitious minds of the unlearned.The French revolution was supposed to be about 'liberty' but was more about bloody vengeance.In 1933 the Holocaust began.My point is that there is a spirit that exists within some of humanity which is predatory in nature. One that delights in the suffering of others, that revels in power and control of a base nature. These have always been the mercenaries and the enforcers. The more power they are given, as in this UNCONSTITUTIONAL WAR ON CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES the more likely there is going to be violence and destruction. They want you to be armed. They want you to protest. They want you to 'stand up'. SO they can shoot you down. This is nothing new.
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Comment #12 posted by global_warming on June 20, 2006 at 12:45:06 PT
have you 
come to your 'reality?
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Comment #11 posted by global_warming on June 20, 2006 at 12:01:22 PT
to find
so many sick and lost,frightened, secretly hiding,like slaves and animals,There is a Husband,That can chase the 'Blues Away,
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Comment #10 posted by global_warming on June 20, 2006 at 11:43:44 PT
for i am a lost soul
and so needs
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Comment #9 posted by global_warming on June 20, 2006 at 11:39:40 PT
It is 
Our foot and handThat 'reaches to grab
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Comment #8 posted by global_warming on June 20, 2006 at 11:33:36 PT
In Continuance
Is there "one" foot, who is not afraid,Life and Breath,It was promised,That, son of man.Had full understanding,Full with Grace,The foot of understating,Is unfolding,
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on June 20, 2006 at 10:49:52 PT
re:After they killed Tom and Rollie something died
It was only 2 people, yet that moment and date,Marks the place and time,The fools who have failedTo understand what was lost,
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Comment #6 posted by whig on June 20, 2006 at 10:00:08 PT
I agree with what you say. I don't think it was helpful to Tom and Rollie to be armed. I don't think cannabists should keep guns. We should be peaceful people, and we should not create any appearance otherwise.What happened to them was wrong. They should not have been killed. Their guns did not protect them.
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on June 20, 2006 at 08:51:53 PT
I don't endorse violence either. However, I've never had a kid, and I've never had my son stolen from me, permantenly, because of the cannabis plant. I can't even begin to imagine what that would do to me. I do see that neither Tom or Rollie killed or hurt anyone, even in their rage. Can the government say that?The other thing that really bothers me is the waste of the whole thing. 150 cops called in, the article showed some cops with police dogs going through the wreckage, it's ridiculous. How many tens of millions of dollars were spent on this project - busting a bunch of hippies off in the middle of nowhere? How many social workers could we have hired? Women's shelter's funded? Headstart programs? The expenditure of our collective resources on this is a disgusting to me. Together, we have FINITE money! There were hundreds of communes like this all over the US in the 60s and 70s, and they were left almost completely alone.  The thing that has changed is the exponential expansion of government since then. The government is 10 TIMES bigger now than it was in the 60s. Before the 80's, there simply weren't enough cops to chase down all the hippies out in the woods.We hired and equipped a standing army of cops in the 80s and 90s. But instead of posting a cop at every subway station and bus stop in poor neighborhoods to protect people, or to protect our borders, we give the money to SWAT teams out in the middle of nowhere.As I've said before, the scariest part is what happens when the money runs out. In Russia, most of the government enforcers just went freelance or work for the mafia now, after the economy collapsed. Look at what happened in Germany after WWI. All the veterans, men trained and shaped by their job as soldiers to be brutes, became brownshirts for Hitler and started in after their own people, and then the people in neighboring countries. Once you've created the genie, only good luck keeps it from getting out of the bottle, and once it's out, it won't go back in.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 20, 2006 at 08:39:07 PT
After they killed Tom and Rollie something died in me too. I know that Tom shouldn't have done what he did but they didn't need to kill them. 
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on June 20, 2006 at 08:28:56 PT
look at how it all works
Something mentioned very briefly here is the failed 2000 ballot initiative.  Just like Steve Kubby, Tod Mcmormick, Steve McWilliams etc. The ones who get invovled with the SERIOUS political process to change the MJ laws are targeted.Prosecutor Teter wasn't driven by his career ambition alone, he was representing a HUGE, powerful government community threatened by MJ legalization. Do you know how many cops, prosecutors, prison guards, prison builders, politicians, etc, would be affected by legalization?  Teter took this one for the team, knowing that he'd be rewarded for the rest of his life in his career. He's already been promoted up to the AG's office. I predict he'll be AG soon, then a national position like drug czar or something 20 years from now.  Just like Asa Hutchinson and John Walter, who did the government's dirty work decades before.  So they stole the man's child off a playground and then killed him. That is so repugnant to me. It makes me want to leave the US and stop supporting these pigs with my taxes.  That's the sad part of being American. We've got all this money and home theaters and cheap stuff at Walmart, yet there's a nagging dark side. Most of us have to indulge in a little make-believe fantasy to not feel guilty. At some level, everyone knows that among our peer nations, we're the angry, fat, slovenly bully. Polluting the world with our waste and greenhouse gases, bombing and torturing scads of innocent families to indulge our angry vendettas.  In the 60's, young people were asked to go even farther, they were forced to go overseas and kill the poor people.  That pushed a generation passed the breaking point. But this generation has been pacified by materialism and brainwashed by consumerism.I think it's about to get much worse, too! Just in the last few months, the Supreme "Court" has eliminated wetlands protections in the Clean Water Act, so greedy developers can build more totally tasteless, ugly, cheaply constructed strip malls and Mcmansions. The SC has removed protections for government whistle blowers, so that the thieving political class can steal from us evenly more brazenly. The SC has allowed cops to now break into to anyone's home, at any time. 
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Comment #2 posted by whig on June 20, 2006 at 07:48:14 PT
At the risk of seeming insensitive...
This relates to what I was saying the other day:'m not remotely justifying what happened here. But those who live by the sword often die by the sword, and I do not believe that cannabists should live by the sword.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 20, 2006 at 07:41:44 PT
Book Signing and Pictures
Michael H. Hodges Preview Book signingDean Kuipers signs copies of his new book, "Burning Rainbow Farm" 7 tonight Borders Books & Music, 34300 Woodward Ave., Birmingham 
Call (248) 644-1515
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