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Rallying Once More

Wed, 13 Nov 2002 - South Bend Tribune (MI)
©2002 South Bend Tribune - All Rights Reserved
Contact: VOP@sbtinfo.com - Website: www.southbendtribune.com
Author: Adam Jackson, Tribune Staff Writer

Supporters remember Rainbow Farm shooting victims Crosslin, Rohm

VANDALIA - A chilly wind from a leaden sky buffeted the small group of people Tuesday afternoon as they waved signs at passing traffic along Michigan 60.

But Mother Nature's cold breezes couldn't extinguish the enthusiasm of the group's members, or divert them from their goal-honoring the memory of Grover "Tom" Crosslin and Rolland Rohm, who were killed in a standoff with police over the course of Labor Day weekend in September 2001.

The two men, who owned and operated Rainbow Farm Campground, were staunch supporters of the movement to decriminalize marijuana. To that end, they staged festivals and concerts at the campground which featured pro-personal rights and pro-marijuana themes.

However, police say the festivals also featured illegal drug use and sales, which led to undercover investigations, police raids, and criminal drug charges, for which Crosslin could have been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison; Rohm faced 15.

On the same day Crosslin failed to show for a court hearing, neighbors of the campground reported that the two men were carrying weapons and setting fire to the buildings on the property.

Thus began the five-day standoff, which ended when the two men were killed separately by police sharpshooters, while both reportedly brandished weapons.

While both men are now dead, their mission continues, in gatherings such as the one on Tuesday.

About two dozen people turned out to remember their fallen friends, and to denounce what they feel is unjust persecution resulting from the federal government's ongoing war against illegal drugs.

"The war on drugs is a war on people," Nora Callahan said. "That is something we feel very strongly about."

Callahan is one of the founding members of the November Project, a grass-roots effort based in Colville, Wash., dedicated to ending what the group says is an unfair, government-sponsored assault against American citizens.

The group was one of the sponsors of the gathering, which included a roadside demonstration, a protest at the Cass County Courthouse in Cassopolis and a quiet remembrance ceremony at the now-desolate campground outside Vandalia.

Callahan said the deaths of Rohm and Crosslin are a perfect example of the casualties in the government's war on drugs.

"This proves that (the government) will kill people over nothing," she said. "We can't let (Crosslin and Rohm's) story ever die."

Those who turned out to brave the cold Tuesday are working to make sure it doesn't. Some, such as Delores Taylor of Charlotte, Mich., drove more than 100 miles to attend the event, even though they never had the chance to know the two men before they were killed.

"I'm interested to find out more about why this happened," she said. "That's one way to make sure it doesn't happen again."

At the campground, demonstrators walked quietly through the overgrown fields, looking at the charred remains of the buildings that were burned to the ground during the standoff. One of the last remaining structures is a wooden stage, where bands once played during the pro-marijuana festivals the property was known for.

It was on that stage where the group gathered to share memories -- and to express ongoing outrage at the tragedy that resulted from the standoff.

"This showed me that the government can just come in and do whatever they want," said Shirley DeWeese, Crosslin's sister. "It is still hard to believe."

And even harder to forget. After a small prayer ceremony, as members of the group filed back to their vehicles, Callahan noted that from the ashes of tragedies like Rainbow Farm- which she called the "Waco" of the drug war-can come the resolve needed to make their battle a successful one.

"The movement against this war is growing and getting broader," she said. "None of this drug war is about being just or right-it is about killing people."

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