Sheriff warns Supes, community about Rainbow Family Gathering

A Rainbow Family Gathering.

Lassen County Sheriff John McGarva warned the Lassen County Board of Supervisors and county residents about the potential issues associated with the upcoming Rainbow Family Gathering held in the Plumas National Forest. He said he and other law enforcement agencies, including the Susanville Police Department, are ready to respond to the public safety threat.

Lassen County Sheriff John McGarva.

While the event will not begin for several days, he said the group’s presence is already affecting the county because participants have already started to arrive.

He said their presence here in 2004 was “not pleasant. They are anti-law enforcement, they are anti-government, some more than others. They have decided to have their annual gathering in the Indian Creek area in the Plumas National Forest which is between Susanville and Antelope Lake.”

McGarva said he and the Plumas County’s sheriff have been discussing how they’re going to staff this from both ends. McGarva said the directions the group has given are to go straight up Janesville Grade. Tha’s the best way to get there.

“I will be augmenting patrols on everything that borders that mountain range, because they could also go up Gold Run, Milford Grade and Doyle Grade. They can go up several different areas,” McGarva said.

He offered his opinion of the group.

“They believe the world is theirs,” McGarva said, “and they should help themselves to the possession of others because they’re for everybody. So, we will definitely have a robust presence. We will be dealing with any criminal violations appropriately and swiftly. I’ve already given direction to staff on where I want patrols targeted. We will be present and we will be seen. I believe the primary districts that will be affected are Districts 3 and 5 — where they come through the most. Most of them are probably going to come through the Susanville area. The access from Plumas County is not great, so we’ll probably see most of the ingress and egress.

“I wanted to brief the board and let them know we have been aware of this. I’ve been working with the Forest Service for probably the past month. It was not anticipated it would be this close to us … There were some concerns about a gathering at Roxie Peconom over the last weekend. That dropped itself in there, we had no idea it was coming, it wasn’t supposed to. We were very present out there. Captain Carney went out and met with their leaders and let them know they are not well received in the community, nor are they welcome, and they will see a lot of us if they stay here.”

The official dates of the gathering are July 1 through July 7, but McGarva said Rainbow Family Gathering folks have already started arriving. He said people can start showing up, according to the RFG website, June 20 and last time they were here, he said they stayed “until the snow flew.”

District 1 Supervisor Chris Gallagher asked McGarva if retailers had been made aware of the risk, and the sheriff said yes.

“We will be prepared,” McGarva said.