Rainbow Farm: Drug War Waco


Date: Tue Sep 11 2001 - 02:04:30 EDT ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

September 8, 2001

Fond memories of Rainbow Supporters recall slain pair, their ideals and good times

By ADAM JACKSON
Tribune Staff Writer

VANDALIA -- Scores of mourners grieve the deaths of Rainbow Farm Campground
owner Grover "Tom" Crosslin and his friend, Rolland Rohm.
Crosslin, 46, died Monday after he was shot by FBI agents stationed around
the campground.
Rohm, 28, met a similar fate when a Michigan state trooper shot him
Tuesday. Authorities said both men were brandishing guns at law-enforcement
officials when they were killed.
But in the hearts and minds of those mourners, the two men and the ideals
they stood for live on, along with the fond memories they have of the
34-acre campground which served, some say, as a gathering spot for those
promoting harmony, trust and friendship.
On the drive leading into the campground, which is located at 59896
Pemberton Road, family, friends and supporters of the two men and their way
of life gathered Friday to keep a vigil over the property.
Against a backdrop of burned buildings and an American flag flying
upside-down at half-staff, they recounted the good times they had at the
campground and their frustration at the way the recent five-day standoff at
the property ended.
"I only ever had a chance to come here to stay one time," the Rev. Steven
Thompson said.
"And as soon as I drove in, I felt like I had come home."
Thompson, who serves as the director for the Benzie County chapter of the
National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said
he attended the "Whee 2000" festival in July 2000 not only for pleasure,
but also to help drum up support for the Michigan Personal Responsibility
Amendment, a movement to decriminalize the personal use of marijuana and
legalize the growing of industrial hemp plants for use in cloth, paper and
other manufactured products.
And he admitted that he and his friends had smoked marijuana while at the
festival. But he firmly denied allegations brought up by law-enforcement
authorities of the sale of drugs, use of hard drugs, and sexual acts out in the open.
"I saw absolutely none of those things," Thompson recounted Friday. "What I
saw was people enjoying themselves in a safe and friendly atmosphere."
Others who gathered at the campground Friday spoke of a place where the
words loneliness, helplessness and hunger were not part of visitors'
vocabulary. One man, who identified himself as Cass County resident Buzz
Daily, said Rainbow Farm regulars and visitors alike were always willing to
lend everything from a hand to a ham sandwich to anyone in need at a festival.
"No one ever went hungry or got cold; everyone was always happy to share
with you," he said.
"You could leave everything out at your campsite when you were walking
around, and no one would steal it.
"People could trust each other."
When minor problems did arise, campground officials were quick to speak to
the friends of the problematic person, said Daily, a Rainbow Farm regular
and festival volunteer worker. That alone was usually enough to defuse the
situation before it got out of hand.
"I never saw any brawls or drunken behavior," he said. "Everybody was
peaceful. They were just there to have fun."
And from what Maurice Williams saw, that's how it was at Rainbow Farm from
the campground's beginning in 1993 to last weekend's standoff. Williams, a
now-retired 40-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, was the
person who sold the land to Crosslin in 1993, and developed a friendship
with him that lasted throughout the years of the operation of the campground.
"Oh, I came up here to visit all the time," he said. "(Crosslin) always
made up a place for me to stay in the house.
"I was a VIP," he laughed.
Williams, who still lives in Chicago, said he leased the land to
sharecroppers for more than 40 years. He said he intended to retire there,
but decided to sell the land to Crosslin instead. But he still loved the
rolling fields and natural setting of the plot, and tried to come back for weekends and festivals.
"There were plenty of people out there, but the only problem I ever saw was
the mosquitoes," said Williams, who drove out to the campground to chat
with supporters Friday. "We used to call them 'gallonippers,' because when
they nipped you they'd take a gallon."
The mosquitoes are still there, and likely will be long into the future.
But the future of Rainbow Farm is not known. A civil forfeiture proceeding
initiated last spring against the property is still ongoing, which means
the land may still be seized from Crosslin's family.
Some, like Thompson, believe that Rainbow Farm will live on through
increased awareness of what they say is the folly of enforcing laws that
prevent people from enjoying personal freedom on their private property.
"They've martyred Tom and Rollie," Thompson said. "I hope this wakes people
up to what the government is doing."
Others, like mourner Jeff Schifler, say that no matter what the future
brings, the end of the old Rainbow Farm Campground will always leave a
hollow spot in supporters' souls.
"I tried to spend every summer there," he said. "Rainbow Farm was my home."
------------
Staff Writer Adam Jackson ajackson@sbtinfo.com (616) 687-7001

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September 9, 2001

Remembering Crosslin

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Mourners express disbelief that deceased was violent

By ADAM JACKSON
Tribune Staff Writer

ELKHART -- In shiny Cadillacs and beat-up Volkswagens, they came from
Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.
Some dressed in suits and ties. Others wore tie-dyed T-shirts and sandals.
But for the more than 500 mourners who flocked to the
Walley-Mills-Zimmerman Funeral Home and Crematory on Saturday morning,
there was one common purpose: to remember Grover T. "Tom" Crosslin, owner
of the Rainbow Farm Campground in Vandalia.
Crosslin, 47, died Monday when he was shot by FBI agents during a standoff
at the 34-acre property at 59896 Pemberton Road. Authorities said that he
brandished a weapon at an agent keeping surveillance on the property.
Crosslin's supporters, though, have expressed disbelief that the man they
remember as kind, generous and gentle could act in such an aggressive
manner. Many of those connected to Crosslin flocked to the area for the
funeral, some setting up camp in a makeshift site at the intersection of
Michigan 60 and White Temple Road.
Others, like Paul Daum of Ann Arbor, simply drove to town for the day to
pay their respects to a man who they say was unjustly killed.
"This is a sad day for everyone, everywhere," he said. "Man, I never saw
him (Crosslin) do anything to anyone. He was a real good guy."
The service, which was preceded by an hour of visitation, began at 11 a.m.
at the funeral home. A spokesman for the funeral home said the ceremony
consisted of music, a eulogy from a minister, and several speeches by close
friends and family of Crosslin.
The spokesman also confirmed that Crosslin's body is slated to be cremated.
On Friday, friends who were keeping a vigil at the campground said the
ashes, along with those of 28-year-old Rolland Rohm, who was killed in the
standoff by police one day after Crosslin's death, will be scattered this
week in a private ceremony at the campground.
Funeral services for Rohm will be at 2 p.m. EST Tuesday, also at
Wally-Mills-Zimmerman, which is at 700 E. Jackson Blvd. in Elkhart.
Visitation for friends and family will be from 3 to 8 p.m. EST Monday at the funeral home.
----------------------
Staff Writer Adam Jackson ajackson@sbtinfo.com
(616) 687-7001

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September 9, 2001

More questions than answers at Rainbow Farm

<>

VANDALIA -- Melody Karr stood as a protesting sentry last week near the
intersection of Michigan 60 and White Temple Road.
She had many questions swirling in her head. And she was angry about them.
The 37-year-old Mesick, Mich., resident couldn't figure out why it came to
this: Rainbow Farm Campground owner Grover T. "Tom" Crosslin and Rolland
"Rollie" Rohm were both dead.
Crosslin, 46, had been fatally shot Monday afternoon by FBI agents, and
another Vandalia man, 18-year-old Brandon Peoples, was injured. Rohm, 28,
had been fatally shot Tuesday morning by Michigan State Police troopers. In
both cases, the men were shot after reportedly pointing loaded .223-caliber
Mini-14 semiautomatic rifles in the direction of law-enforcement officers.
The deaths came during a five-day standoff that began the Friday before
Labor Day about an hour before both men were scheduled for a Cass County
Circuit Court bond revocation hearing. They faced illegal drug and firearms charges.
Authorities said that Crosslin and Rohm, Rainbow Farm roommates, had
violated terms of their bond and an injunction by conducting festivals at the Pemberton Road site.
It was part of a pattern of illegal activities at the 59896 Pemberton Road
site for years, Cass County Prosecutor Scott Teter said. Crosslin, through
his farm, Web site and fliers, had long advocated the decriminalization of
marijuana use, particularly for medical purposes.
More than 100 officers from the FBI, MSP and the Cass County Sheriff's
Department ended up being part of the standoff. Ten buildings burned to the
ground on the 34-acre Rainbow Farm compound; all that was left was a chicken coop.
So Karr wanted others to know her pain, holding aloft a handwritten sign
bearing the words "THEY KILLED THEM."
Karr said she didn't know how long she and her fellow protesters would continue.
"I think as long as it takes to get some answers," Karr said.
That could take some time.
Teter said it would be at least three weeks for all the agencies' reports
to come together to review the events of the standoff. He has also asked
the Michigan Attorney General's Office to review it, too.
"No one wanted this to happen," Teter said.
But it did. And questions linger.
"This is a tragedy that was directed by the FBI under their rules of
engagement and official protocol that only includes a shoot-to-kill option
with a show of lethal force," said Dori Leo, Crosslin and Rohm's Kalamazoo attorney.
"I knew what would happen to Tom after we talked. Tom was the defiant one.
But Rollie was scared," said Leo, a former Cook County, Ill., prosecutor.
The resulting tragedy is what kept protesters, friends and some family
members on vigil several days last week underneath a canopy on M-60, about
three miles from Rainbow Farm.
The violent ending was a combination of the custody battle over Rohm's
13-year-old son, Robert, whom Crosslin's family lists as his son, too, in
his obituary. Robert had been taken away by Michigan's Family Independence
Agency due to the criminal charges and child neglect allegations, authorities said.
It was also about other pending criminal and civil court matters, Cass
County Sheriff Joseph Underwood and Leo said.
Rohm and Crosslin were both facing charges of growing marijuana,
maintaining a drug house and various weapons charges, the result of a
two-year undercover investigation. If convicted of the charges, both were
facing years in prison.
On the first day of the standoff, after setting fire to some buildings, it
is believed that Crosslin, Rohm, Peoples or a combination of the three
fired at a news helicopter from WNDU-TV, Channel 16, South Bend. Because of
that shooting, which punctured the helicopter's stabilizer, Crosslin ended
up being charged Monday with federal felony charges on aircraft destruction
and firearms possession.
Crosslin "was angry at the government," said his sister, Shirley DeWeese, of Elkhart.
Perhaps he was. But Teter said he carried out his anger the wrong way.
"You can't ignore the laws you don't agree with," Teter said.
"It was unarmed murder," said Trena Moss, who knew Crosslin and Rohm and
who runs the Hillsdale County chapter of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Teter was out to destroy this place."
Teter disputes such notions.
"We haven't handled this one any differently than any other," he said.
But Crosslin and Rohm were never caught selling, so he couldn't charge anyone.
"We didn't want to raid the festivals," he said of the 3,000-strong
gatherings. "We didn't want another Kent State."
A quirk in the drug law made it difficult to prosecute because drugs were
used and sold outdoors, Teter said.
"We aren't talking about people smoking a couple of joints, though that's
illegal, too," Teter said. "We had no choice but to investigate. There were
kids at these festivals. There were fliers advertising them in our high
schools."
The campground had been among Cass County's best-known landmarks. A
state-issued sign pointing the way to the farm was taken down last Tuesday
nighthours after Rohm's death.
Crosslin's funeral was Saturday in Elkhart, and Rohm's funeral is Tuesday.
"Maybe they were justified," Leo said of authorities. "But it's too bad it
had to end this way."

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End of the rainbow

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by Jacob Sullum
September 11, 2001

Despite what pot smokers say, it's not true that marijuana never killed
anybody. It killed Grover Crosslin and Rolland Rohm.
Crosslin and Rohm were shot to death during a five-day standoff with police
at the Rainbow Farm Campground in Vandalia, Mich. Cass County Sheriff
Joseph Underwood Jr. said the men, who lived at the campground together and
were free on bail after being arrested in May on drug charges, had both
aimed guns at law enforcement officers.
The confrontation began on August 31, when Crosslin, Rainbow Farm's owner,
started setting fire to buildings at the campground, which the government
was planning to seize through civil forfeiture. During the standoff, shots
were fired at a news helicopter and a police airplane.
This outburst of violence belies marijuana's image as a drug of love and
understanding, the image that Rainbow Farm, a notorious haven for pot
smokers, sought to promote with its peace signs and dancing
bears. Advertised as a place where "families with alternative lifestyles
can relax comfortably and privately in the beautiful rolling hills of
Southwestern Michigan," the campground brazenly appealed to hedonists by
proclaiming, "At Rainbow Farm FUN is still legal."
In case you didn't get its subversive message, Rainbow Farm openly admitted
that it supported marijuana legalization. The "Alternative Campground and
Concert Arena" regularly hosted events such as HempAid and RoachRoast, the
very names of which were an affront to decent, drug-free people everywhere.
The name of Rainbow Farm's "coffee bar" was The Joint, its logo an
obscenely fat marijuana cigarette. The campground also had a Hemp Gift
Store and a shop called Smoke World that sold "pipes and accessories,"
ostensibly "for use with tobacco and legal herbal blend products."
A disclaimer on the campground's Web site insisted that "Rainbow Farm DOES
NOT promote the use of illicit drugs by anyone." Who did they think they
were fooling?
Naturally, the authorities could not tolerate the sort of "alternative
lifestyle" practiced at Rainbow Farm. During a two-year undercover
investigation, state and local agents posing as hippies bought marijuana
from people attending events at Rainbow Farm. "You would be amazed," one
officer told the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune last May. "You go in there,
(drug use) is just everywhere."
The police shot videotape that documented the shameless behavior of Rainbow
Farm's customers. "In one scene," the Tribune reported, "a man handed a bag
of marijuana to another. Then, a group of people was openly passing a
marijuana cigarette as toddlers played nearby." There were also reports of
nudity and outdoor sex, none of it, unfortunately, caught on videotape.
The investigation resulted in six arrests. Crosslin and Rohm were charged
with manufacturing marijuana, operating a drug house and felony possession
of firearms, offenses that carry sentences totaling more than 20 years. The
government closed down the campground, put Rohm's 12-year-old son in a
foster home, and began forfeiture proceedings to seize the 34-acre property.
Sheriff Underwood described Crosslin as "agitated" by these developments,
and Crosslin's sister said he was "very angry with the government and the
way they have done things." But how long did he think he could continue
offending his neighbors' sensibilities?
"These guys weren't exactly growing corn," observed Charles Giacona, vice
president of the Right to Decency, a group based in Warren, Mich. A
Vandalia resident told The Detroit News the confrontation "was coming for
years, with those people out there advertising marijuana. They were rubbing
the cops' noses in it."
Rainbow Farm's defenders (believe it or not, there are some) offered the
usual lame excuses. "These people weren't hurting anybody," said one
(probably a pot smoker himself) after the arrests in May. What about the children?
Another likened the forfeiture of Rainbow Farm to "stealing", ridiculous,
because stealing is illegal. Some even suggested that people had a
constitutional right to gather at Rainbow Farm in protest of the war on
drugs, as if the First Amendment had anything to do with getting together
to complain about the government.
During the standoff, Crosslin's father warned that his son apparently felt
some sort of principle was at stake. "When he believes in something," he
told the Associated Press, "he's going to take it all the way to the end."
Vandalia Mayor Sondra Mose-Ursery explained that Crosslin thought "he
should be able to do what he wants on his own property." It's amazing what
people will believe after they've smoked enough dope.

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From: <lsn@libertariansocialist.com>
Subject: FBI Lied About Rainbow Farms Standoff
Date sent: Mon, 10 Sep 2001

FBI Lied About Rainbow Farms Standoff

Witness Says Crosslin Was Surrendering When They Shot Him

9/10/01

by LSN Staff (based on email from James Parker, Libertarian)

Rainbow Farms, Michigan -- The FBI and local police lied when they said
they shot Tom Crosslin after he pointed a gun at him, according to one witness,
Michigan Libertarian James Parker, who has been circulating emails on
internet messageboards attacking FBI and police claims.

Crosslin and two comrades were in a standoff with the FBI over the attempt
by the federal government to seize his farm, which had been a host for a
regular hippie gathering where participants would smoke marijuana, when FBI agents
shot him. A local sheriff had claimed at the time that he was shot after
pointing a weapon at officers.

According to those who witnessed the attack, however, Crosslin was in the
process of surrendering, and was merely carrying a weapon which he did not
drop quickly enough to satisfy the demands of local police.

Other witnesses have pointed out that the FBI refused to call in a third
party mediator to negotiate with Crosslin. News reports have failed to mention
that to "secure the area", FBI agents forced several local families out of
their homes at gun points, and shut down several major roads in the area. They
also reportedly used tanks to shut down anti-FBI demonstrations that
spontaneously emerged when people heard of the siege, and carried signs and
other protest material to FBI perimeter lines.

Libertarian Socialist News
Post Office Box 12244
Silver Spring, MD 20908

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Weed Waco

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by Steven Wishnia, Special to HighWitness News
08/29/2001

Rainbow Farm's annual Hemp Aid and Roach Roast festivals had made it a
center for pot partying and activism in the Michigan-Indiana area. The
killings capped local authorities' long-running efforts to shut it down.

VANDALIA, MI-Rainbow Farm owner Tom Crosslin, 46, and his partner, Rolland
Rohm, 28, were killed by police Labor Day weekend during a four-day
standoff at the farm here.
Crosslin was shot to death Sept. 3 by two FBI agents, allegedly after he
pointed a gun at them. Rohm was killed by Michigan state police in a
similar scenario early the next morning. Brandon Peoples, 18, who was
walking with Crosslin when he was shot, suffered minor injuries.
Rainbow Farm's annual Hemp Aid and Roach Roast festivals had made it a
center for pot partying and activism in the Michigan-Indiana area. "It's
the Waco of weed," says Ann Arbor Hash Bash organizer Adam Brook. "Just to
think this is all over pot, it's absolutely ridiculous."
The killings capped local authorities' long-running efforts to shut the
farm down. Busted last May, Crosslin and Rohm were facing charges of
growing marijuana, gun possession and maintaining a drug house-undercover
state police had bought pot and other drugs at several festivals, and
accused the pair of letting people deal on the property. State police and
Cass County Prosecutor Scott Teter had also filed papers to forfeit the
farm, and had put Rohm's 12-year-old son in foster care.
The week before the standoff, authorities moved to revoke Crosslin and
Rohm's bail, saying they had violated a court order banning them from
holding events on the property. On Aug. 31, instead of going to a hearing
on the motion, the two began burning the farm's buildings, and shot the
tail of a TV station's helicopter flying overhead. Over 100 state police,
county sheriffs and FBI agents barricaded the road by the farm.
"They thought it was a police helicopter," says "Buggy," a 34-year-old
Vandalia farmhand who served as a go-between between Crosslin, Rohm and
authorities during the ensuing standoff. "The government pushed people too
far. There was a motion to lose their land, and they'd already lost their
child." Family members and sympathizers agree that Crosslin was intensely
frustrated by the prospects of losing his land, his liberty and his family,
but question the police story and tactics. "It seems very suspicious to us
all," says Crosslin's cousin Jim Spry, a 53-year-old truckdriver from
Elkhart, IN. "Who knows that Tommy even had a gun on him?"
The pair's lawyer, Dori Leo of Kalamazoo, who was barred from the property
by police, says what bothers her most is the police and FBI snipers "who
lay in wait for a confrontation to happen."
"Why did they have to use lethal force?" she asks. "I still don't believe I
was in any danger from either of them. That's why I was willing to go in."
"Tommy smoked his grass for years," adds Spry. "He wanted to create a place
where people could relax and be free."
And other than Peoples, the only living witnesses left are in law enforcement.
tribute to the Rainbow Farm Campground.

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Lawmakers killed Crosslin and Rohm, not police

The following is a letter to the editor that I sent to the Herald-Paladium,
the Lansing State Journal, and my local rural weekly, the Charlotte
(Michigan) Shopping Guide as well as Senators Levin and Stabenow,
Congressman Upton, State Senator Gast and State Representative C. Brown:

To the Editor:

Reflecting upon the recent tragic events in Cass County, near Vandalia over
Labor Day weekend, I can't help but think it is the lawmakers who should be
held responsible for the deaths of Grover T. Crosslin and Rolland Rohm. The
lawmakers are responsible for either creating or supporting the war on
drugs, which in reality is nothing more than a civil war declared by the
government upon the people that it governs. Their actions in Congress and
the various state legislatures have either stripped or severely curtailed
all but the Third, Seventh and Tenth Amendment rights of many Americans.

Many people see an armed standoff situation that ends tragically such as
this one, and dissect it under a microscope to find fault with either law
enforcement tactics or the actions of the suspects. However, in this case
such an examination is not necessary to determine who the real killers are
in this instance. From the moment that Crosslin and Rohm took up arms,
police were doing their job to protect public safety, which is perfectly
legitimate. However, due to bad legislation, Rohm's son was removed from the
family home and placed in foster care and Crosslin's property was seized
before either man was convicted of any crime. These two actions alone
constitute a gross violation of the rights of due process and to be secure
against unreasonable searches and seizures, and would prompt many Americans
to take violent defensive actions much like those of Crosslin and Rohm.

Copies of this letter are being sent to Senators Carl Levin and Debbie
Stabenow, Congressman Fred Upton, State Senator Harry Gast, and State
Representative Cameron Brown, the elected representatives and real killers
of Grover T. Crosslin and Rolland Rohm. I hereby demand their immediate
public response to these allegations of culpability in the bloodbath at
Rainbow Farm Campground.

Sincerely,
William Dwyer
Charlotte, Michigan

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Standoff's violent end upsets few in Vandalia

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But some see shades of Waco, Ruby Ridge in deaths of 2 men

By Mark Hornbeck / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

VANDALIA -- This poor, conservative farming village in southwest Michigan,
where federal agents killed two men at a campground that promoted marijuana
use, isn't an anti-government enclave or a haven for extremists, residents say.
"This is a nice, quiet town. The people here are not what you would call
revolutionaries," said Dale Williams, owner of Trail's End Bait Shop.
The confrontation at Rainbow Farm, in which Thomas Crosslin and Rolland
Rohm died, "was coming for years, with those people out there advertising
marijuana," said Williams while selling bait to a customer.
"They were rubbing the cops' noses in it. I never would have guessed they'd
get shot. But this is not Waco, Texas."
Crosslin, 47, was shot dead Monday after a weekend-long standoff with
federal and local authorities over felony drug and weapons charges. On
Tuesday, Rohm, 28, met the same fate.
Crosslin and five others were arrested on drug charges in May after a
two-year investigation of marijuana use at Rainbow Farm, a 34-acre
campground that endorsed marijuana for medical, spiritual and recreational
purposes. The ongoing tensions led to the weekend showdown, authorities said.
Rainbow Farm was a local oddity, out of sync with the area.
"What is the impact of these shootings on our town? Zero," said Rocco
Papandrea, owner of a water filtration business and 30-year resident of
Vandalia. "These guys weren't really part of the community. They really
didn't have anything to do with us."
"If they raised their guns at FBI officers, then the FBI guys have to look
out for themselves," said Jessica Burt, a clerk in Papandrea's office.
Not everyone agreed with the FBI's actions. According to a handful who held
vigil for the dead men, the events of this week put Vandalia on the same
level as Waco and Ruby Ridge, the infamous sites of government-citizen gun
battles in the 1990s.
"It happened here in Vandalia this week, and it's happening all over the
U.S.," said Trina Moss of Hillsdale County, who was among a small group of
protesters huddled near a campfire on the east side of town. "Government is
over-reaching people's lives, and the sad thing is we're paying them to
look up our butts with a magnifying glass."
Moss stood near crudely drawn messages on plywood hung from road signs
along M-60 with references to Waco. "They killed them," one placard announced.
Atypical town
The deadly climax set Vandalia apart from its historic roots and from the
rest of bedrock conservative western Michigan.
Its residents would rather their town be known as a key stop on the
Underground Railroad, a place that offered shelter to fleeing slaves from
Indiana and Illinois before the Civil War. The area is home to many African
Americans, some of whom are descendants of the runaway slaves who settled there.
Vandalia is not a typical bedrock Republican, Christian Reformed, western
Michigan town. The only apparently active church in the downtown area was a
Buddhist temple. There is one red brick church that is boarded up and overgrown with weeds.
The farming community of about 360 people was devastated a few years ago
when its major employer, Bivouac, a van customizing company, moved to Indiana.
The ochre-colored pole barns that Bivouac left behind provided training and
target practice facilities for FBI agents and state police involved in the
standoff with Crosslin and Rohm.
Raymon Neal, a Detroit native who is a 10-year resident of Vandalia, was
surprised by the gun battle.
"Why now? The police have known for years what they were up to at Rainbow
Farm," Neal said. "I'm surprised it came to this. But I can tell you, the
people around here didn't want that drug activity going on so close to town."
Police said Crosslin and Rohm drew their guns before they were shot.
But Gerry Livermore, mother of Rollie Rohm, said she doubts that is what
happened. "I know Rollie wouldn't put his life in jeopardy knowing that he
has a 13-year-old son to care for," said Livermore, visibly shaken and
weary after a long drive to Vandalia from her home in Rogersville, Tenn.
During the standoff, police said it appeared a house and four main
buildings on the campground property were burned. Authorities also said
Crosslin shot a news helicopter as it flew overhead Friday. Shots also were
fired at an unmarked state police plane Saturday but missed, police said.
Both aircraft landed safely without injuries.
Crosslin's uncle, George Colwell, said the shootings were "very
unnecessary. Very uncalled for. It's murder. I feel like this is another
Waco."

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Police defend shootings of 2 men at Rainbow Farm

<>

Relatives of pair say they doubt version of fatal standoff

By Mark Hornbeck / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

VANDALIA, Mich.Tom Crosslin, who had been holed up in his house at Rainbow
Farm campground for four days in a standoff with police, crested a hill
dressed in camouflage gear late Monday and walked into a wooded area where
a three-man FBI observation team was set up.
Crosslin raised his .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle to shoulder height and
was fatally shot by two agents from a distance of about 25 feet.
The following morning, Rolland Rohm set fire to the L-shaped house about 6
a.m. and was seen about 45 minutes later pointing a similar rifle at a
State Police officer on a hill near the burning property. He was gunned
down from long range. Two State Police officers fired their weapons.
That's the story police and FBI agents related to reporters and camera
crews Wednesday during a walk-through at Rainbow Farm, about two miles
northeast of Vandalia, a tiny farming town in southwest Michigan.
There were four shooters, police said. They declined to say how many
bullets medical examiners found in the victims, who were wanted on drug and
weapons charges and who drew the attention of authorities last Friday when
they started burning buildings at the camp ground and firing at a TV news helicopter.
The two State Police officers are on administrative leave pending a state
investigation. Two FBI agents have been relieved of their weapons during a
federal probe but remain on the job. The actions are standard practice, officials said.
FBI and State Police officials refused to release the names of the agents
and officers involved in the shootings.
The FBI report will be turned over to the Cass County prosecutor's office,
which will decide whether the Crosslin shooting was justified. State Police
officials said they're not certain yet where they will send their report on
the Rohm shooting or what action might be taken.
The investigation so far has concluded that both Crosslin and Rohm were
carrying loaded weapons. Police said they're still at a loss to explain why
Crosslin and Rohm decided to hole up in the house and raise their weapons
rather than surrender.
"The weapon Mr. Rohm had was fully loaded, with a round in the chamber and
the safety off," said State Police Capt. Richard Dragoner.
All 10 structures in the compound have been reduced to stone foundations
and smoldering cinders. FBI and State Police evidence teams accompanied by
trained dogs were sifting through the ashes Wednesday. They found several
guns and rifles, a pipe bomb and more than 100 shell casings. No drugs or
marijuana plants were found at the scene.
"We suspect that any drugs that might have been here were burned in the
fires," said John Bell, special agent from the FBI office in Detroit.
"Law enforcement did not set the fires," Bell added. "And there were no
overt or aggressive actions taken by law enforcement."
More than 120 FBI agents, State Police officers and Cass County Sheriff's
deputies were at or near the scene during the standoff.
Relatives of Crosslin and Rohm and supporters of the marijuana legalization
effort they espoused said they're wary of internal police and FBI investigations.
"The only witnesses were police and victims, who are now dead," said George
Colwell, uncle of Crosslin. "I don't think we'll ever know the whole truth
about these shootings."
--------------
You can reach Mark Hornbeck at (517) 371-3660 or mhornbeck@detnews.com.

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Two Dead In Michigan Campground Standoff

<>

Vandalia Man Reportedly Upset With Government

September 4, 2001

VANDALIA, Mich.The standoff at a Michigan campground is over, after police
fatally shot the man who remained on the property.
Rolland Rohm, 28, was a friend of Grover Crosslin, who owned Rainbow Farm
near Vandalia. Authorities say he was shot after pointing his gun at a
Michigan State police officer and ignoring orders to put the weapon down.
Police say Rohm had asked to see his son and told them he'd surrender today
but instead menaced officers with the gun. The shooting happened around dawn.
Crosslin was shot and killed by police on Monday. The 47-year-old
reportedly came out of a building on the property and refused to drop his weapon.
The standoff with Crosslin, whose campground is known for its advocacy of
marijuana, dragged into four days and federal agents were enlisted to
relieve state and county police.
Police went to the campground Friday after neighbors reported that
buildings on the property were being burned.
Later, shots struck a police plane and a news helicopter flying over the
site but both landed safely.
Authorities say owner Crosslin (pictured, right) missed a Friday court
hearing on drug and weapons charges. And his property had been the target
of civil forfeiture proceedings.
The local sheriff said that Crosslin had made no demands. The man's
supporters had gathered at a site about a mile from the campground.
Supporters of the men were moved from their vigil and protest spots after
Crosslin was shot.

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Police open talks with man involved in Michigan standoff

<>

September 2, 2001

VANDALIA, Michigan (AP) -- Police have opened negotiations through a third
party with a campground owner involved in a three-day standoff during which
shots were fired at a news helicopter and a police plane.
Authorities did not identify their go-between and on Sunday had not
established direct contact with Grover T. Crosslin, 47, who is facing drug
and weapons charges.
FBI Special Agent Dawn Clenney said Crosslin has made no demands.
Sheriff's deputies on Friday went to the Rainbow Farm complex, described on
its Web site as an alternative campground & concert arena that supports
marijuana use "for a more sane and compassionate America." Neighbors had
said Crosslin was burning buildings on his property, which is the target of
civil forfeiture proceedings.
It appeared other people were also at the campground. Police did not know
who fired the shots that whizzed by an unmarked state police plane Saturday
and struck the tail of an Indiana television station news helicopter
Friday. Both landed safely.
Sheriff's Lt. Lyndon Parrish said she believed Crosslin was upset over a
$150,000 bond revocation hearing he skipped Friday. The hearing was set
because authorities believed he was violating terms of his release on
charges of felony firearm possession and drug charges.
Dori Leo, who identified herself to the South Bend Tribune as Crosslin's
attorney, said her client was upset because a child he helped raise was
placed in foster care following the charges.
Crosslin and five others were arrested in May after a two-year
investigation into allegations of marijuana use at the campground, just
before it was to host a weekend event promoting marijuana legalization.
About a mile away from the campground, about a half-dozen people displayed
placards in support of Crosslin and Rainbow Farm.

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Campground owner killed after four-day standoff

<>

September 4, 2001

VANDALIA, Michigan (CNN) -- A campground owner involved in four-day
standoff with police in rural southwestern Michigan was shot and killed
Monday evening, according to a source at the multi-agency task force
headquarters created to deal with the standoff.
The task force was composed of members of the FBI, the Michigan State
Police and the Cass County Sheriff's Office.
Tom Crosslin, 46, owner of Rainbow Farm Campground, was wanted on federal
charges for firing at an aircraft, in addition to state drug and firearms
charges.
Police and the FBI tried for four days to talk with Crosslin, who was holed
up in a house on the property along with two other people.
The standoff began Friday after gunfire was reported on the campground,
which according to its Web site advocates legalizing the use of marijuana.
A forfeiture proceeding was initiated against the property in May.
When sheriff's deputies responded Friday and found several structures on
fire, Crosslin began firing gunshots as they attempted to approach the
structures, authorities said.
Neighbors told police Crosslin had warned "all hell was going to break
loose," and officials evacuated nearby residents.
WNDU-TV in South Bend, Indiana, said its news helicopter was struck Friday
by one of the bullets as it flew over the scene to cover the fires. The
station broadcast pictures of a bullet hole in the helicopter's stabilizer.
Sheriff's officials notified area airport control towers Friday to keep
aircraft out of the area after several gunshots were also fired at an
unmarked Michigan State Police aircraft and a civilian aircraft.
Later that day, a warrant was issued for Crosslin's arrest when he failed
to make a scheduled court appearance in connection with a prior drug charge.
An official with the sheriff's office said authorities were going to revoke
Crosslin's bond because he was again allegedly involved in drug activity.
Another warrant, for felony possession of a firearm, was issued after
Crosslin was spotted carrying an "assault-type weapon," the sheriff's
statement said.
A statement from the sheriff's office said Monday that Crosslin also faced
"a federal complaint and [an] arrest warrant has been authorized for
attempted destruction of an aircraft."
Vandalia is in southwestern Michigan, about 30 miles north of South Bend, Indiana.

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FBI steps in to help relieve officers in Michigan standoff

<http://www.nandotimes.com/nation/story/72408p-1020687c.html>

By JAMES PRICHARD, Associated Press

VANDALIA, Mich. (September 3, 2001 8:13 a.m. EDT) - A standoff with the
owner of a Michigan campground known for its advocacy of marijuana entered
its fourth day, with police enlisting the help of a third-party negotiator
and with the FBI stepping in to relieve officers.
The campground's supporters gathered near the site Sunday as police worked
to end a standoff that has involved shots being fired at a news helicopter
and police plane.
"The word is out about what's going on," said Shirley DeWeese, whose
brother, Grover T. Crosslin, owns the southwest Michigan campground called
Rainbow Farm. "If they do kill him, it's not going to be the end."
Neighbors said Crosslin, 47, who faces drug and weapons charges, was
burning buildings on Friday on his property, which is the target of civil
forfeiture proceedings. Deputies went to the farm after hearing about the fires.
Police did not know who fired the shots that whizzed by an unmarked state
police plane Saturday and struck the tail of an Indiana television station
news helicopter Friday. Both landed safely.
The FBI said Sunday night that federal agents would relieve officers from
the Michigan State Police and Cass County Sheriff's Office, who have been
at the site. Cass County Sheriff Joseph Underwood Jr. said Crosslin has made no demands.
"It is the goal of all three agencies to resolve this matter peacefully,"
said John Bell Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit office.
Officers did not identify the third party assisting in the negotiations.
Sheriff's Lt. Lyndon Parrish believed Crosslin was upset over a $150,000
bond revocation hearing he skipped Friday. The hearing was set because
authorities believed he was violating terms of his release on charges of
felony firearm possession and drug charges.
Dori Leo, who identified herself to the South Bend Tribune as Crosslin's
attorney, said her client was upset because a child he helped raise was
placed in foster care following the charges.
Crosslin and five others were arrested in May after a two-year
investigation into allegations of marijuana use at the campground, just
before it was to host a weekend event promoting marijuana legalization.
A statement on Rainbow Farm's Web site says it "supports the medical,
spiritual and responsible recreational uses of marijuana for a more sane
and compassionate America."
About a mile away from the campground, about a half-dozen people displayed
placards in support of Crosslin and Rainbow Farm.
"We were hoping for a peaceful resolution and they're bringing in choppers
and artillery," said DeWeese.

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Standoff site probed

<>

Thursday, September 6, 2001
BY JAMES PRICHARD
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

VANDALIA - The pastoral beauty of the gently rolling land at Rainbow Farm
Camp Ground belies the violence that claimed two lives there this week.
Investigators from the FBI, Michigan State Police and the state fire
marshal's office searched Wednesday for evidence that might provide more
insight into the deaths of Grover Thomas "Tom" Crosslin and Rolland Rohm.
"We're trying to find out exactly what occurred here," said John E. Bell
Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit bureau.
Bell said investigators found several weapons, hundreds of shell casings
and evidence of a pipe bomb.
Crosslin, 46, a prominent supporter of the decriminalization of marijuana,
owned the 34-acre tract located about 30 miles northwest of South Bend,
Ind. Rainbow Farm hosted at least two music festivals each year, HempAid
and RoachRoast, according to the campground's Web site.
Crosslin was shot to death Monday afternoon during a police standoff that
started Friday. Rohm, 28, who lived with Crosslin at Rainbow Farm, was
fatally shot Tuesday morning.
In both cases, the men were shot by law enforcement officers after
allegedly pointing loaded, .223-caliber Mini-14 semiautomatic rifles in
their direction. An FBI agent shot Crosslin and two state troopers shot at
Rohm, though it's unclear whether one or two hit him, authorities said.
Crosslin's funeral was scheduled for 11 a.m. EST Saturday at
Walley-Mills-Zimmerman Funeral Home & Crematory in Elkhart, Ind. Funeral
arrangements for Rohm were pending.
The FBI had 15 to 20 people at the campground Wednesday, including members
of a national team from Washington, D.C., who are conducting an internal
investigation. Bell said this is standard procedure after every shooting
involving an agent.
Another 10 state police personnel were working at the scene, said Capt.
Richard E. Dragomer of the Paw Paw post.
The investigators spent much of their time sifting through the rubble of 10
campground buildings destroyed by fire. Nine of the structures were set
afire Friday and a fire was set early Tuesday at the two-story house where
Crosslin and Rohm lived, authorities said. Evidence of the exploded pipe
bomb was found in the home's basement.
Bell emphasized that Crosslin and Rohm set the fires.
"Law enforcement didn't start any of those fires," he said. "They were
started by the people on this property."
The burnt-out shell of a late-model Volkswagen Beetle sat next to what used
to be the campground store, where blackened shelves and chairs were among
the few recognizable objects.
Painted on a concrete wall of the house's basement were the faint words
"LET FREEDOM RING."
The only structures still standing at the campground Wednesday were a
doghouse and a chicken coop about the size of a garden shed.
A handful of people continued protesting the shootings at a site along a
road on the eastern edge of Vandalia, about two miles from the campground.
A Cass County sheriff's deputy arrested one protester, Brian McCullough,
38, of Gilbertville, Ky., on Wednesday at the entrance to the campground
and charged him with disorderly conduct. He posted a $100 cash bond and
later returned to the protest site.
McCullough, who drove to the campground with three other protesters, said
he was arrested after uttering an obscenity to the deputy.
Holding a handwritten sign bearing the words "THEY KILLED THEM," Mesick
resident Melody Karr, 37, said she didn't know how long she and her fellow
protesters would continue.
"I think as long as it takes to get some answers," Karr said.

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Pro-pot activist killed in standoff

<gt;

Man faced charges of firing gun at aircraft

September 4, 2001
BY BEN SCHMITT
and SHAWN WINDSOR
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

VANDALIA -- A campground owner facing felony drug and weapons charges was
fatally shot by authorities Monday night after a four-day standoff, police
said.
Grover (Tom) Crosslin, 47, was killed with one shot from an FBI agent's
rifle after pointing a firearm at the agent, according to a news release
issued by the FBI, Michigan State Police and Cass County Sheriff's Office
late Monday.
The perimeter of Crosslin's Rainbow Farm and marijuana advocacy campground
in southwest Michigan had become a kind of modern American tableau over the
holiday weekend, where politics, celebrity, crime and mass media converged.
It began Friday when Crosslin skipped a court date related to drugs and
weapons charges, allegedly set fire to some of Rainbow Farm's buildings and
began a standoff with police.
Federal officials suspect that Crosslin then shot and hit a news helicopter
and fired at a State Police airplane and a small private plane.
Shots were heard again Saturday, said police.
A federal warrant was issued Monday for the former truck driver and
flagpole installer alleging the attempted destruction of an aircraft.
On Monday while police tried to coax Crosslin from his 34-acre farm, his
supporters set up tents and a canopy with tables, a couch, a generator and
a television on a dirt lot about two miles away on M-60.
Many held signs. "Free Tom Now." "Stop Murder Now." "War on Peace." "Honk 4
Freedom."
Prior to Crosslin's death, authorities said they were prepared to wait him out.
"This could go on for days, weeks, even months," said Cass County Sheriff
Joe Underwood. County deputies and State Police officers had surrounded the
farm and camp the past four days. The FBI arrived Sunday. "It's a very,
very slow process. We have only had indirect contact with him through a
friend."
Underwood said he and his deputies were called Friday when neighbors saw
the flames and heard Crosslin say, "All hell was going to break loose."
Underwood said Crosslin may have set the fires in an attempt to ambush
authorities.
Crosslin's friends said they think he set the fires because he didn't want
to give his farm to the state. They also said he was angry that the
Michigan Family Independence Agency in May had removed from his home a
child he had helped raise, which Underwood confirmed.
The boy was said to be the genetic son of Crosslin's roommate Rolland Rohm,
28. Rohm also helped run the campground.
"They are trying to take his home and his family like it was nothing," said
Crosslin's sister Shirley Deweese, as she stood with Crosslin's supporters
on the highway leading up to the campground hours prior to the shooting.
"It's not just about the weed, it's about American people and the taking
away of American rights."
Crosslin's father, Grover Crosslin, foreshadowed the tragic ending with
comments he made hours before his son was killed: "When he believes in
something, he is going to take it all the way to the end. I don't have the
slightest idea what's going to happen here, but to me it doesn't look
promising because I don't see my son backing down."
Authorities said that shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, law enforcement
officers began negotiating wth Crosslin via phone. Negotiations
deteriorated, however, when officials refused Crosslin's demand for a
third-party negotiator. Crosslin became enraged, and made threatening
remarks and gestures concerning law enforcement officials.
Crosslin left a campground building carrying an M-14 rifle, accompanied by
a second man, Brandon Peoples. The two men walked the perimeter of the
residence, and approached an area where an FBI agent was stationed.
When Crosslin aimed his weapon at the agent, the agent fired one round,
fatally wounding Crosslin. Peoples suffered minor injuries.
Police said they were negotiating for Rohm's surrender late Monday night.
After the shooting, Rainbow Farms supporters in the area became enraged,
but no further violence was reported.
Grover Crosslin described his son as just another kid who was slightly
mischievous but never got into serious trouble. He said he dropped out of
high school and found work in manual labor.
"He's always been good with his hands," he said.
Last year, Tom Crosslin bought a large, red brick house near the farm that
once was part of the Underground Railroad, which helped transport slaves to
freedom in the North. Grover Crosslin said it was built in 1807 and that
his son was restoring it and planned to turn it into a bed and breakfast.
At the house Monday were a few friends and a sign that read: "Those who
deny a peaceful revolution demand a violent one."
Back over on M-60, the makeshift support camp grew larger through the day.
"I'm just praying that this is going to end peacefully," said Shirley
Deweese, Tom Crosslin's sister.
Even neighbors said they never expected this.
Rose Jackson, who lives close to the farm, said she's never had any
problems with the campground even though people in the area knew it
promoted marijuana. Indeed, Rainbow Farm claimed on its Web site that High
Times magazine had dubbed it one of the best "stoner spots in the world."
Crosslin bought the farm and campground about 15 years ago and used it to
promote the "medical, spiritual and responsible recreational use of
marijuana for a more sane and compassionate America," according to the Web
site. He hosted two annual hemp festivals, Hemp Aid and RoachRoast.
He also ran concerts, Merle Haggard played the farm in June, and a coffee
bar at the camp called the Joint, along with the General and Hemp Gift Store.
The whole enterprise began falling apart for Crosslin in May. He was
arrested on suspicion of manufacturing marijuana, maintaining a drug house
and felony firearms charges. The state began forfeiture proceedings on his
property. He was released on bond but told not to hold any more festivals.
Cass County Circuit Court issued an injunction that forced him to abandon
this year's Hemp Aid festival in May.
Crosslin eventually held a festival in mid-August. The prosecutor wanted
his bond revoked and a court date was set for Friday. When Crosslin and
Rohm failed to show up, the standoff began.
------------
Contact BEN SCHMITT at 810-469-8087 or schmitt@freepress.com. Contact SHAWN
WINDSOR at 313-222-6487 or windsor@freepress.com. Staff writer Peggy
Walsh-Sarnecki contributed to this report.