Rainbow Revisited

Rainbow Revisited
Posted by CN Staff on September 01, 2002 at 11:14:40 PT
By Adam Jackson, Tribune Staff Writer 
Source: South Bend Tribune 
Rainbow Farm Campground today resembles nothing so much as a graveyard.Overgrown weeds choke fields that were once neatly mowed. Charred remnants of buildings and signs provide a haunting background to the rusting hulk of a late-model Volkswagen Beetle slowly decaying in a parking lot. And near the property's entrance at 59896 Pemberton Road, a spray-painted sign provides a simple epitaph: TOM AND ROLLIE ARE FREE.
That sign, painted on weathered plywood, begs some compelling questions about the lives of campground owner Grover "Tom" Crosslin, 46, and his friend Roland "Rollie" Rohm, 28, who died Labor Day weekend last year during a five-day standoff with authorities.Were the two men freedom fighters killed for their outspoken stance in favor of marijuana legalization? Were they criminals whose flagrant disregard for the law and public safety led to their deaths?The answers depend on who answers. Family and friends accuse law enforcement of foul play. Authorities argue they did everything possible to avoid the tragedy.The only two who know the reasons behind what happened are Crosslin and Rohm, and they took that knowledge to their graves.But here's the story as it unfolded last Labor Day weekend, pieced together using FBI, Michigan State Police and Cass County Sheriff's Office reports obtained by federal and state Freedom of Information Act requests from The Tribune, Cass County Prosecutor Scott Teter's report on the incidents, recent interviews and reporting over the course of the standoff and since.Trouble in paradise Crosslin opened Rainbow Farm Campground in the mid-1990s. By 1998, it had become well-known for widely attended festivals with names like HempFest and Roach Roast.People camped, listened to music and heard proponents of personal rights and marijuana legalization. The festivals drew thousands and the attention of publications such as High Times Magazine, a periodical centered around the marijuana lifestyle calling Rainbow Farm among the nation's top 10 "stoner" spots.The festivals also drew the attention of police with reports of loud music, public lewdness and illegal drug use. In May 1999, police undertook an investigation with undercover officers in an attempt to document Rainbow Farm's activities.Lt. Michael Brown, who commands the South Haven, Mich.-based Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) anti-drug task force, said in May 2001 the festivals had rampant sales and use of illegal drugs."You would be amazed," he said. "You go in there, (drug use) is just everywhere."With evidence from the probe and a tip campground employees were being paid under the table following two years of seeking to halt illegal activities at Rainbow Farm through other methods, police secured search warrants based on potential tax-evasion charges. Officers found more than they figured they were going for."There was a significant marijuana growing operation in the basement of the house, and there was marijuana all over inside the house," said Cass County Prosecutor Scott Teter, who had written warning letters on two occasions to Crosslin warning him his property could be seized as a public nuisance.The threats riled Crosslin, who replied back: "I have discussed this with my family and we are all prepared to die on this land before we allow it to be stolen from us."With Crosslin defiant, Teter ended up suing under an ordinance requiring permits of more than 500 people. Crosslin won both times, claiming the gatherings were sponsored by an Ohio-based group promoting marijuana legalization and that the ordinance exempted non-profits.But Teter wasn't done with Crosslin.On May 9, 2001, he charged Crosslin with felonies of manufacturing marijuana, firearm possession and maintaining a drug house. Rohm had been charged with manufacturing marijuana, maintaining a drug house and firearm possession, although the last two charges were dismissed about a month later.If they had been convicted on the charges, Crosslin was facing up to 24 years in prison and Rohm up to 15 years.With the allegations, Child Protective Services took Rohm's 12-year-old son, Robert, from the home, placing him in state foster care. The boy had been raised by the pair since age 4.Gideon Israel, a Rainbow Farm regular, had said: "It's been extremely one-sided. This is a very political issue we hope to resolve through the system."Most of summer 2001 was peaceful at Rainbow Farm. Both posted bond -- $150,000 for Crosslin and $25,000 for Rohm -- and moved home.But there were conditions.Besides no future drug use, Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge ordered no more festival gatherings pending a December 2001 court date.But that order was apparently ignored Aug. 17, 2001, when less than 500 people showed up for an impromptu Rainbow Farm event. Undercover police reported seeing both Crosslin and Rohm using marijuana.Because of that, Dodge scheduled a bond revocation hearing Aug. 31, 2001. But neither showed for their hearings, even though Crosslin had told his attorney, Dori Leo, he planned to."Tom was defiant," Leo admitted, adding "Rollie was scared."With both absent, Dodge issued warrants for their arrests on contempt of court charges.Start of a standoff At noon EDT Aug. 31 -- the Friday before Labor Day weekend, a dispatcher at Cass County Central Dispatch received a telephone call from Dan Owen, a Cassopolis man who noticed something strange while driving past Rainbow Farm.Owen reported a fire at Rainbow Farm, saying a pavilion was ablaze.The dispatcher hit tones for Newberg Township Fire Department and ambulance. Another call came in, from Bob McDonald, whose uncle, Carl McDonald, was a neighbor:McDonald: "They just had a fire call come for the, uh, over the radio, because ... a pavilion's on fire."Dispatcher: "Um-hmm."McDonald: "But, Tom Crosslin?"Dispatcher: "Um-hmm?"McDonald: "... came down and told my uncle here, about a half hour ago, to get the hell out of there, because there's going to be trouble because Tom and a bunch of other people are all dressed in camouflage attire. OK. And I've called up to Cass County before when uh, my uncle ..."Dispatcher: "And they said there's going to be problems, huh?"McDonald: "Well, here's the deal. My uncle also told me, and I called the police about it, that he's acquired .50-caliber guns."Dispatcher: "OK."McDonald: "Fifty-caliber, cause he said the bullet's about like, uh, six, seven inches long."Dispatcher: "All right."McDonald: "And he told them that they wasn't going to take them alive, so with the fire burning there, I don't know, it might be some kind of a ploy."Shooting the sky Upon hearing reports of trouble at Rainbow Farm, dispatchers rounded up emergency and police units, directing them to assemble at the intersection of White Temple Road and Black Street, about a mile away.The activity also attracted news media.A Bell Ranger helicopter with WNDU-TV, Channel 16, South Bend, was hovering overhead that afternoon, surveying the scene. Richard Voigt, a veteran pilot, was at the helm.He later told FBI Special Agent Christopher Favo he was circling about 1:30 p.m. EDT to film the fires when he got a call from WNDU that police notified them his helicopter was being fired on from the ground. Upon returning to South Bend Regional Airport, an inspection revealed a bullet hole in its tail.Shooting an aircraft is a federal crime. Because of that, more than 50 agents from the FBI joined the more than 50 Cass County sheriff's deputies and Michigan State Police already surrounding Rainbow Farm.Contacting CrosslinAs officials learned more, it became apparent communicating with Crosslin and Rohm was urgent.A stroke of luck came in the form of Tracy Brown, a 25-year-old Cass County resident known as "Buggy" to friends. A friend of Crosslin and Rohm, Brown had seen smoke coming from the burning buildings and went to ask about it.Brown was turned away by Rohm, who said "it was not a good time to be there," and asked him to leave. Brown did, heading to the police command post.Because of his friendship with the two, Brown became an intermediary, visiting at least 10 times during the eventual five-day standoff. The messages, mostly centered around frustrations Crosslin and Rohm felt with court actions threatening to take away their property, jail them and deprive them of "son" Robert.Both "Crosslin and Rohm were carrying rifles and held them in their arms," Brown told the FBI, adding he had also seen boxes of ammunition in the house."It was a shock to see the weapons and ammunition," Brown said.Support of friendsWith Crosslin and Rohm holed up at Rainbow Farm, supporters, friends and family erected a makeshift campsite at White Temple Road and Michigan 60. With signs protesting police involvement and backing the pair, those gathered hoped that the situation would end without tragedy.Rohm had said the week before that "everything was going well; everything was cool," said Melody Karr, a Rainbow Farm supporter from Mesick, Mich., and co-founder of the Michigan Cannabis Action network, a marijuana legalization advocacy group. "When we found out what was going on, we drove down right away."Supporters worried, believing police purposely kept them in the dark. A fright came when supporters caught a glimpse of activity in a building at a vacant plant near the command post."We could see (police) in there doing target practice," Karr said. "We started yelling; we knew what was going on. The next day, all of the windows in that building had been painted over."Over the weekend, the situation remained tense. Contact was limited to demands to speak with Robert.Meanwhile, teams of specially trained FBI and state police officers had taken to rotating shifts -- 12 hours on, 12 hours off -- at "observation points" around Rainbow Farm.Bolstered by a Michigan National Guard light armored car brought in to monitor the situation, the posts created a perimeter to prevent an attempted escape. If they had, "across the road from the house is all state land," Teter said. "It would be almost impossible to find someone out there."Both sides waited and watched, with the only exchange being terse reports from Brown and occasional bursts of rifle fire from the house.Crosslin's deathA wild card by the name of Brandon James Peoples entered the fray on Sept. 3, 2001 -- a Monday.An 18-year-old friend of Rohm and Crosslin, Peoples had heard news reports of the situation at the campground, and, after waking at around 1 p.m. EDT, had decided to visit his friends.With the police presence and the possibility of hostilities, Peoples simply took a circuitous route, walking past some police and approaching from the north. His plan was to try to talk his friends to give up or run away, and his presence to surprise authorities that morning.Rohm and Crosslin "invited me into their house," Peoples said. "They showed me a wire that they indicated would blow up or burn the house. They also said the yard was mined. (Rohm and Crosslin) both said they shot at the armored vehicle. They said they called it 'Sparky' because of the bullet sparks."Both said they were not planning to leave."By this, I thought they meant to stay until the end," Peoples said.Peoples would be the last person to see them together alive.Crosslin asked Peoples to help him get supplies, which he agreed to. Peoples and Crosslin left, walking along a trail past the police perimeter south to the home of Carl McDonald at 60152 Pemberton Road.Crosslin, his Ruger Mini-14 rifle slung over his shoulder, forced open the door, filling a garbage bag with a coffee maker, coffee filters, hot dogs and a 12-pack of Miller Lite beer. Spotting a .22-caliber rifle in a gun rack, Crosslin asked Peoples if he wanted it. Peoples said no, to which Crosslin said: "Don't you want to stick around and have fun?"The two retraced their route. Upon returning, Crosslin saw they had forgotten the coffee pot, and asked Peoples if he would return to retrieve it. Scared of booby traps, Peoples declined.Crosslin talked Peoples into going after he said he'd accompany the teen, and the two retrieved the Bunn Pour-O-Matic pot. On the trail back while stopping at a campsite to rest, Crosslin apparently looked straight into a position occupied by FBI Special Agent Richard Salomon, who was on the Rainbow Farm property's perimeter monitoring activity.Crosslin looked surprised, raising the Ruger Mini-14 rifle he was carrying to his shoulder, and appearing ready to fire at Salomon, who was only a few yards away. Crosslin never got off a shot."Both Salomon and (Special Agent Michael Heffron) fired simultaneously," Teter's report said. "The .308-caliber round fired by Salomon struck Crosslin in the forehead, killing him instantly."Heffron's bullet, a .223-caliber round, passed through a small tree and shattered, pieces of the bullet striking Crosslin in the hand and side.Peoples, looking down when the shooting happened, got peppered with fragments of Crosslin's skull and brain, injuring him some and making him hysterical.At the protest site near Vandalia, no one notified supporters of what had happened to Crosslin. With rain clouds building, some on hand had gone to make sure nothing exposed would get wet. It was at that point when one of the protesters noticed a special report on TV about the 4:40 p.m. EDT death."We were devastated," said Karr, noting that some of those on hand started screaming "Murderers!" in the direction of the command post."Some people wanted to rush the gates (at the post), but cooler heads prevailed," she said. "There was a lot of anger and despair."Ending it aloneAfter Crosslin's death, state police took over the observation post. At the same time, negotiators contacted Rohm in an attempt to get him to surrender peacefully.Negotiations even included a letter from Robert, who investigators agreed to bring in if Rohm gave himself up.The letter read:"From your son Robert"Hey dad please come out so no one gets hurt. I love you a lot we can do all of the fun things we did befor (sic) o.k. dad I love you a lot!!!"You rember (sic) all of the good things we use to do like playing paintball wars or playing bumper cars on the golf carts."I am safe and o.k. I am in good shape until you get out."Love Robert"Negotiators reported Rohm was quiet and composed, and sounded lethargic. When he failed to answer the telephone, police fired a nonexplosive 37 mm cannon round through a window of the house, prompting Rohm to answer the phone and ask why he was being shot at.Early the next day on Sept. 4, negotiations appeared to reach a successful conclusion. Rohm agreed to surrender peacefully in exchange for a chance to talk to Robert. However, he asked police to let him sleep until 6 a.m. EDT since he was tired.At 6 a.m., negotiators called. Rohm answered and agreed to stick to the bargain, but sounded groggy and disoriented. He was told to come out with his hands up, and move to the driveway's end without a weapon.The negotiator then heard a sound like the receiver of the telephone being laid on a hard surface, with Rohm being heard moving around inside the house. At that point, police heard a crackling noise coming through the phone.Five minutes later, just before 6:05 a.m. EDT, flames were visible. About 30 minutes later, state troopers close to the house said Rohm had exited, dressed in full camouflage and carrying a rifle.Rohm took up a position under a pine tree behind the home, looking toward the driveway. Worried he would try to escape, state police gave the order to bring the armored car to the house's side, ordering through a loudspeaker mounted on the car for Rohm to drop his gun.Michigan State Police Sgt. Dan Lubelan, and trooper John Julin, stationed nearby, said they saw Rohm lift his gun toward the car, and said they had concerns he would fire on the car as it cleared smoke coming from the house, which was now burning fiercely.Lubelan fired once, putting a round from his .308-caliber Remington sniper rifle through Rohm's chest. Julin, wielding a 7.62 mm M-14 semiautomatic rifle, shot eight times, hitting Rohm once in the leg. Lubelan fired again, but did not hit Rohm.An arrest squad, moving in using the armored car as cover, ran in and handcuffed Rohm's prone body. Rohm was pronounced dead at the scene.AftermathA year after the shooting deaths of Crosslin and Rohm, some still have questions about why the pair had to die.Police answer the same way they did directly following the standoff: Crosslin and Rohm might be alive if they hadn't taken aim at police. Police say little more than that."We're going to decline any interviews" about Rainbow Farm, said Special Agent Jenny Emmons of the FBI's Detroit Bureau.Michigan State Police Capt. Richard Dragomer, who commands southwestern Michigan's Paw Paw, Mich.-based 5th District, said any further information on the Rainbow Farm standoff would have to come from Cass County sources with the state police investigation now closed.Cass County Sheriff Joseph Underwood has said police did what they could to try to end the situation "very peacefully.""We did not go up to the house. We had observers back from the house. They engaged our officers that were out in the field," he has said. "There was no aggressive attempt made by law enforcement. They were engaged at the site."Teter, who conducted an independent investigation of the shootings, said the shooters acted appropriately in both cases, and ruled the killings justified."I can't think of anything (the shooters) should have done differently," he said. "I think they waited as long as they possibly could before making the decision to shoot."Teter cleared Michigan State Police and the FBI of any wrongdoing in connection with the deaths. Neither of the officers involved was disciplined or suspended for their actions.These days, there's little sign of the violent ends met by Crosslin and Rohm along sleepy, rural Pemberton Road. Except for the memorial sign, and scraps of "Police Line: Do Not Cross" tape tangled in the charred cellar where the farmhouse once stood, a casual observer might think Rainbow Farm Campground had simply been burned and abandoned.But to those who were there, the events of Labor Day weekend 2001 in Vandalia will never be forgotten.To Teter, Rainbow Farm is an example of the tragic consequences that can arise from a situation where the law is ignored."I can understand the pain and frustration of the people who cared about these men," he said. "But it needs to be understood that this resulted from a choice they made."They chose to live outside the law, and leave all these people who loved them behind to deal with the consequences."To Karr and other supporters, Rohm and Crosslin were killed merely for standing up for what they believed in. The main hope, she said, is that they didn't die in vain.She believes their message has come through loud and clear. At Hash Bash, a pro-marijuana festival in Ann Arbor in the spring, Karr kept hearing support for their actions."To the people in the movement, the sacrifice that (they) made will never be forgotten," she said, noting there will be a candlelight vigil in Cassopolis at the Cass County Courthouse starting at 6 p.m. EDT Monday night to remember the two."One woman kept coming up to me to ask about (them in Ann Arbor), and tears were just rolling down her face. (They) will not be forgotten."Note: Rainbow Farm resembles graveyard year after two lives lost.Source: South Bend Tribune (IN)Author: Adam Jackson, Tribune Staff Writer Published: September 1, 2002 Copyright: 2002 South Bend TribuneContact: vop sbtinfo.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Tom & Rollie Memorial Page Farm Remembered Agent Kills Rainbow Farm Owner Owner Shot Dead by FBI FBI Steps in To Help Relieve Officers in Michigan
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #8 posted by FoM on September 01, 2002 at 21:10:30 PT:
Click on my email and tell me what you are up to and I won't say a word but I would like to know. Only if you have time though. Good luck with whatever you are doing. I know you will do a fine job!Nice seeing you Industrial Strength.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by Dan B on September 01, 2002 at 19:29:06 PT:
With Regard to this article . . .
Sorry to anyone who was offended at my non-announcement in a comment for this article. I meant no disrespect.I, too, am angry about the Rainbow Farms catastrophe, and my non-announcement, which will become an announcement closer to the end of September, will speak at least indirectly of my feelings regarding not only Rainbow Farms, but also the many others who have been slaughtered by the guns of SWAT teams and military personnel in the name of fighting a war against some drugs.Dan B
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by Dan B on September 01, 2002 at 19:24:30 PT:
Industrial Strength
Good to see you still posting here. I thought I'd clear up your question about the placement of your apostrophe. Because "'tis" is a conjunction of "it is," one would place the apostrophe in front to signify that the first letter has been dropped. Like this:'tisThought I'd be of service in some capacity.By the way, I'll have an announcement to make at the end of September having something to do with drug policy reform in West Texas. I don't yet have all the pieces to the puzzle worked out, so I'll keep you guessing. Meanwhile, if anyone out there lives in West Texas, please drop me an email, and I'll fill you in as to the details--but you have to promise to keep the seceret until I'm ready to tell everyone. I'll explain why after you contact me.Thanks.Dan B
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by lookinside on September 01, 2002 at 19:17:46 PT
Tom and Rollie....
After watching our Shrub in action the last year, I wonder if 9/11 was done to cover up and hide Rainbow Farms.I know that seems farfetched, yet I believe the current administration would stoop that low.Notice how there isn't one witness, besides Peoples, who isn't a cop of some sort? They kept Peoples incommunicado for a substantial period. Until he agreed to sing the FBI song?I will NEVER trust ANY representative of the ANY government, ever again. They are nothing but murderous thieves and their brain dead minions.(Did I make my feelings clear?) 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by Industrial Strength on September 01, 2002 at 15:42:13 PT
Cor, blimey!
Well, well, well. Believe it or not, this site and more importantly the people involved with this site are second on the list of what I have missed most so far in the eleven days I have been here. Second only to my family and friends, which are one in the same. This is also the longest I have abstained from smoking in what must be about two years. I actually don't miss that all that much. Having said that, if anyone here knows where to score in the Neston area, let me know! lol. Believe it or not, I don't really feel like walking around Birkenhead trying to score. I would probably be robbed by a bunch of heathen Scalies...I know, too inside. It is actually more the same than I would have expected. Emblematic of the differences/similiarities is the fact that the McDonalds' here have paintings adorning the walls. The cars are different. Also the keyboards. For typing I mean. The beer is different as well. Draft bitter is almost worth the airfare! lol. Aye, 'tis' (I didn't know whether to put the ' at the beginning or the end, figured I would hedge my bets) a little bit different but alot the same. Everyone has a mobile phone and everyone seems to have a satellite dish. I do like it here but I'm hoping I will meet some people soon. Been doing mostly family orientated stuff since I got here. I don't really have much to say about the article but I hope my rambling is of intrest to at least one or two people. Particularly any dealers in the Neston/Wirral area! lol. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by boballen13 on September 01, 2002 at 15:08:02 PT:
"50 caliber" magic word from waco
How much dope was actually found and how many 50 calibers were lying around fully loaded with 6-7 inch ammo? How many of the governments claims to invade the rainbow "compound" were actually found valid? But most important, why was the news coverage of this action stepped on? What "authority" was used to keep this from the american public? But do remember on thing... it was a successful job of coverup and that makes one suspect that future atrocities will be forthcoming after the rainbow success! 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by CannabisMan on September 01, 2002 at 12:47:16 PT:
Humans are extremely stupid creatures
Here's why:* Humans don't work together as a species to achieve world peace &
happiness. Instead they keep wasting time killing themselves with poisons
such as alcohol & tobacco for the sake of making a single human have
economical power over other humans.* Humans deny their basic animal instincts for no fucking reason other than
religious crap. Humans do not practice free-love/sex in order to spread
their species far & wide. Instead they consistently wait and wait and wait
when in reality they could have sex with every female they see and spread
more humans around the planet.* Humans pretend to be above other animals by having ego complexes and God
complexes when in fact humans are animals themselves, they are just
suffering from depression and the God complex.* Humans try to exterminate a substance which makes them healthy & happy.
This is akin to a honey-bee population exterminating their own honey-comb.
Stupid? Yes, highly retarded in fact.* Humans make other humans urinate into a cup for the sake of religious and
political dogma in the effert to make that human a better worker when in
fact most humans are better workers with the WORKING MAN'S WEED.* Human's live in a state of fear constantly from their government for using
the human equivalent of honey for bees. (cannabis)* Human's do not fight back for fear of being locked up into cells by a
terrorist government.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on September 01, 2002 at 11:40:07 PT
Direct Link To Above Article With Pictures
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment