Reporter: Jim Winchester
CUBA, N.M. (KRQE) - Rainbow Gatherers have flooded the Santa Fe
National Forest near Cuba preparing for Saturday's July Fourth peace
Still the peaceful theme of the annual event has not prevented its
share of clashes between participants and law enforcement.
Call them hippies, call them free spirits, but the Rainbow Gatherers
have endured for this their 38th annual gathering.
So has law enforcement reporting problems.
"Most of what we are seeing up there is a lot of drugs being brought
into this gathering," Denise Ottaviano of the U.S. Forest Service
said. "Not just small amounts.
"One seizure by itself was almost a pound of marijuana."
Law enforcers also have issued hundreds of traffic tickets, and that
has these gatherers beating a drum of disgust
"They're bothering people, giving tickets for taillights, they're
giving tickets for not having a seat belt in the back seat of a
cover," Rick Schwichtenberg said. "To me that's overboard."
On Friday law enforcers were taking no chances of clash like one they
had at last year's gathering.
Gatherers told News 13 they still felt they were being targeted.
"Many of us consider this our cathedral of nature, and guns have no
place in a church," John Roadrunner said.
"Armed men coming in with pepper spray guns," added Barry Summers.
"They are trying to provoke something, and it's just wrong."
But three days into the gathering and despite the complaints no major
problems have been reported.
"I think the cooperation this year has been better than in years past
Authorities insisted they are handling enforcement no differently
than they would any other large gathering of people.
The event officially ends on Tuesday.
Following the gathering, volunteer Rainbow participants said they
will spend a few weeks cleaning up and restoring the area where they camped.