09/18/11 Steve Wishnia

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Remembering Tom Croslin and Rollie Rohm, gunned down at Rainbow Farm a week before 9/11 for their beliefs w/ reporter Steve Wishnia, Rev. Steven B. Thompson, Atty Matt Abel, Melody Karr and "Nikki" + MJ Borden: Does drug war = war of terror? & DTN Editorial: "What is Benefit of Drug War?"

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / September 18, 2011

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Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

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DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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DEAN BECKER: Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. We are going to start this off with an opinion piece I sent to 9 newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Post. In sequence, none of them wanted to print this opinion. And I hope someday soon to rub their nose in their ignorance. Here it is:

What is the benefit of drug war?

America is waging an eternal war wherein our efforts directly empower the enemies we seek to destroy. Our mandate to the world ensures planet wide corruption via the hundreds of billions of dollars that flow each year into the hands of barbarians. Shall we forever entice criminals to seek these enormous profits so easily generated by defying laws against a select few plant products?

We must work to disprove the postulation of former head of the CIA William Colby who stated: “The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government.” Given that US banks have been convicted of laundering hundreds of billions of dollars for the cartels and considering the escalating number of instances of governmental and organizational corruption entwined with drug war, the concept is not inconceivable.

The easiest way to take these hundreds of billions out of the hands of barbarous criminals is to move cocaine, heroin, cannabis, LSD and amphetamines to Schedule III of the US Controlled Substances Act. Adults would then, with the advice of their doctors avoid dangerous contaminants and overdose. With the black market then micro-sized, we would have enormous prison space available for anyone who would dare sell drugs to our children. The US is the dominant force of the drug war and when our nation backs down from it's eternal pipe dream, the civilized world is certain to follow.

Within the last year, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the US Conference of Mayors and both the National Black and Latino Police Associations along with the NAACP and many other international organizations and individuals have called for an end to the current mechanism of drug war, and yet few individual mayors, police chiefs or other authorities have dared to speak to their constituents of this need for change, let alone act to make it so.

Should we not heed the words of esteemed individuals and organizations who say it's time to tax, regulate, control, decriminalize, legalize or otherwise deal more sensibly with the problem of the ludicrously named “controlled substances”?. Let us quench our thirst for justice and open this dialogue not just on the editorial pages or the occasional broadcast of two-studio banter, but rather we must have an open, national debate on the subject of drug war.

What is the benefit of drug war, what have we derived that offsets all this horrible blow back? I challenge the intellect, the rationale for waging this drug war on a daily basis via my radio shows. For more than a decade I have requested interviews with the ongoing series of directors of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to absolutely no avail. They have proven themselves unwilling to set a date and time to simply pick up the phone for an interview. I can come to no other conclusion but that they are riding a dead horse, for as long as doing so will pay the bills.

If forced to respond to the words written here, drug war proponents will likely say I am a delusional doper perhaps in league with the terrorists, cartels and gangs that I constantly seek to eliminate. The truth remains however that there is not one high echelon proponent of drug war willing to discuss this subject on my radio shows or in any open, public venue.

Drug war proponents much prefer the bully pulpit, unsavory snitches, long term incarcerations, thwarting new science and always standing forth with a high-powered weapon at the ready.

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DEAN BECKER: That was a Drug Truth Network editorial and it serves to open the discussion about overreach, about government forfeiture laws and SWAT teams that run amuk all leading to needless deaths, families destroyed and continued support for criminals worldwide.

The deaths of Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm is a supreme example of justice denied. A week before the terrorists of 9/11/2001 50 FBI made sure to bring terror to Rainbow Farm.

STEVEN WISHNIA: I’m Steven Wishnia and I’m a freelance journalist.

DEAN BECKER: Steve, back in 2001 you were working for High Times.

STEVEN WISHNIA: Right, I was news editor.

DEAN BECKER: And you wrote a story about what happened at Rainbow Farm. Tell us how you first heard about that.

STEVEN WISHNIA: We were familiar with Rainbow Farm. They invited us out and I went out there for the first time for Hemp AID ’99. Basically they were doing these festivals there – Hemp AID on Memorial Day weekend and Roach Roast on Labor Day weekend.

People describe it as a cross between mini-Woodstock, a Union picnic and a pot legalization rally with bands playing and political speakers and petitions for legalize initiative for Michigan.

Things went really bad there in 2001 after they were raided. The cops found that Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm who were the owners of the campground were growing pot in their house. So they had to cancel the festival and things were just really going downhill.

The prosecutor in the area was a fanatic – fundamentalist Christian Republican - who absolutely hated that these two gay hippies were bringing 3,000 people into their county to smoke pot and listen to rock and roll. It was like 3,000 people giving him the finger.

MATTHEW ABEL: My name is Matthew Abel. I am Cannabis Council PLC in Detroit. They really wanted to press the issue that there was no reason why marijuana should still be illegal and frankly I agree with them. I salute them but they paid for it with their lives.

At the time it was the lead story in Michigan and probably throughout the country but for the 9/11 attacks in New York, well, that story would have stayed prominent in the news. But as soon as 9/11 happened every other story was out of the news.

It was quite a tense standoff for a good time and the person who later became Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, was the Attorney General and apparently was on-site. It’s the typical story of government overreaching, overreaction and terrorism on the people who are generally peace loving folks. It certainly could have been avoided but they weren’t the types to sit back.

What Tom and Rollie were trying to do which was to legalize marijuana and so that their deaths are not in vain we need to continue the fight. We really need to repel prohibition. That’s what it is. It’s way past time for that in this country.

STEVEN B. THOMPSON: My name is Reverend Steven B. Thompson and I am the local director of Benzie County NORML and I’m also the current director of Michigan NORML. Obviously Rainbow Farm and Tom and Rollie were very much cannabis activist. They felt that the cannabis prohibition laws were terribly wrong and a violation of our civil and property rights as American Citizens.

Back in 2000 and 2001 we were running the PRA campaign, the Personal Responsibility Amendment, and we were trying to do it strictly on a volunteer basis to get a statewide voter initiative on the ballot that would basically end cannabis prohibition all together here in the state of Michigan plus allow our farmers to grow hemp again. It would have also ended the asset forfeiture laws.

Sometimes I think this is why Tom and Rollie and Rainbow Farm were targeted because we were well on our way in a volunteer effort collecting our signatures to qualify for the ballot. There were thousands and thousands of people that attended Rainbow Farm over the years when it was in operation and yet there was only about 30 or 50 of us that showed up…basically key leaders came in to protest and demonstrate against what was taking place out at Rainbow Farm.

We went in on the grounds to discover that basically they had …where the farm house itself had burnt down, they had bulldozed everything that burnt right down to the basement. Everything was cleaned and yet there was all these beer cans and whiskey bottles laying all over the grounds. Anybody that knew Tom and Rollie and how stringent they were about recycling and about their displeasure for alcohol knew that did not come from them. That came from the ones that were there to murder them.

The thing that bothers me the most is that once we got on the grounds we immediately covered the areas where Tom was taken down and Rollie was taken down with tarps so as not to disturb the areas so that further investigation could be done because both areas showed that both men suffered multiple gun wounds after the FBI sniper took Tom out. Basically the first shot was a fatal shot because he shot him in the head but then they went over and stood over his body and put a few more bullets in him. Anybody that was there and seen the evidence for themselves knew that that had taken place.

DEAN BECKER: Again, reporter Steve Wishnia.

STEVEN WISHNIA: Tom was a very strong-willed guy. There may have been an element of suicide by cop in it that I think by the time it reached the end of August of 2001 they both felt they were just backed into a corner.

If I remember correctly some of the people I talked to from in and around the farm community – they were like a couple cornered animals. They had been arrested and they had been charged with felony cultivation. Rollie’s son who was 10 or 12 had been taken away and put into foster care. Then they were likely to lose the farm to forfeiture. They spent the last week of August 2001 giving away their stuff to people.

One person said, you know, Tom had told him or her that he wanted to see this go to good people instead of to the cops and the state. One of the things with the forfeiture laws is the state standard of proof is much lower than it is in a criminal trial. So it’s much easier for the state to take something through forfeiture than it is to convict someone of a criminal charge and put them in jail.

Tom’s funeral was on Monday the 10th and Rollie’s was on Tuesday the 11t h. So, 9/11, you know, national story overshadowed this.

MELODY KARR: My name is Melody Karr and am living here in Mesick, Michigan. I was kind of a late-comer to the farm. Basically my first festival there was Hemp Aid ’99 and after that…I mean first coming there was immediately apparent that it was a community. It was what I had been looking for.

I was kind of sounding the alarm on my own, preaching to the choir but I didn’t have an activist community to go to. I immediately started volunteering there and I met Tom and Rollie but I couldn’t say that I became friends with them until after the bust in May 2001.

I heard about the bust and heard there was a court date coming up for Hemp AID. Peter was looking at having an injunction brought against Tom and Rollie to keep them from having Hemp AID. They were trying to get it declared a public nuisance. When I heard about this I started calling around the state trying to find, you know, “What are we going to do?”

I called the local NORML down there and nobody really seemed to have any plans. I and a couple of my friends just showed up that day and protested on the corner in front of the courthouse. There were 5 of us out of all those thousands of people. That was when I actually started to become friends with Tom and Rollie.

We went to a couple of their court dates that summer. Of course we were working on the PRA for the second year in a row so when we were out and about we stayed there a couple times.

Obviously there were a lot of people there just for the party. To me it was immediately obvious…they had an activist tent there. They had people actively signing folks up to register. It was where Greg Shmidt unveiled the PRA in 2000 which was a voter initiative designed to not only introduce medical marijuana as we were able to do several years later but industrial hemp, personal use for adults 21 and over.

So that was the first place that I ever had a chance to really become involved in activism. To me it was obvious that that was the point. The announcements from the stage, they were constantly talking about getting involved, stopping the drug war, writing your legislators, running for office yourself – all the things people can do to get involved.

It was a party, for sure, and apparently a lot of people that was all they saw but it was definitely a party with a purpose.

By the time I started going there they were pulling people over on the land and they would have several people pulled over on these narrow roads, searching cars. The second year I went to farm, in 2000, I actually…I was caravanning with my niece and her boyfriend and they were…there was a police officer waiting on route 60 and once we turned onto the back road, he followed. He passed me and pulled over my niece and her boyfriend who were in front of us.

I guess I just really didn’t think about how it would look to the officer, I just didn’t want to get separated. So I pulled over too. That put my people in front of him and me behind him and that officer came out of his car with his gun pointed…It was me and my three kids in the car – they were like 9,11 and 13. He was obviously terrified.

(chuckling) His gun was shaking, he was pointing it at us and yelling and like, “Everybody’s hands up!” I had totally not even thought about the crossfire implications because that’s not where my head was. But I got to wonder what kind of things they tell the police officers to get them so pumped up.

My kids are in the car going, “Uh, mom he’s pointing a gun at us.” And I’m like, “Yeah, you should put your hands up and be quiet now guys.” It was pretty apparent at that point that this was actually a shooting war.

NIKKI: My name is Nikki. I was formally employed there. I ran the Joint – it’s called the store down there – the store that Tom and Rollie owned. And I managed the campgrounds, did odd jobs for them – took care of Robert (Rollie’s son). It was just a place where people could go and be free and be in peace in solitude and enjoy themselves and listen to good music and just hang out and have a good time.

We ran the PRA petition for Michigan to decriminalize marijuana and we had plenty of booths set up around the area - tents and everything - campers could go up and sign the petition and that would help a lot.

I had just started, personally myself, doing the books about a couple months before they came in and raided us for tax evasion. That was their foot in the door and they saw paraphernalia laying around in the store. They saw our smoke room, of course, and that’s when they went back and got another warrant to search their house and found them growing pot.

All they were were clones – it wasn’t anything big. Tom had sent a letter to the prosecuting attorney, Scott Peter, and told him that there will be bloodshed on my land before you take away my property and my family. Basically they ran an injunction to shut us down for one of our festivals that we were having – one of our yearly festivals. And we couldn’t have the festival because of the injunction.

Basically we went to court and they basically kept putting injunctions on them and basically making it hard for them to live and survive. My boyfriend at the time worked at a dairy farm. His name if Buggy Brown and he worked at a dairy farm. A piece of it backed up to the Rainbow Farm and he saw the smoke back there and Rollie had told him to leave and not come back.

Tom, I guess, had set fire to the campground store building and someone called the authorities and told them that if they came out there there’d be gunfire and that was not the case I don’t think Tom and Rollie would have done that. But they were trying to send a message that they just basically gave up. They had no other route to go. They took everything from them.

Actually I live down the street at the old Vandalia Elementary school. I rented a room out there and that’s where the FBI and the SWAT all set up there little post. They just [expletive deleted] around and drank and ate and just sat around until stuff started happening and everything…until Tom was killed…

Actually one day one of the Mennonites were having church there Sunday morning. They had brought in helicopter and landed it right there in front of school where the Mennonites were having their church.

They were very disrespectful. They told me if I left I couldn’t come back through there and I live there. When I came back through with my laundry the cop was giving me a hard time. Being cocky and saying that I couldn’t go back in there even though I showed him my ID and it showed my address as that address. There demeanor was just cocky and arrogant.

When we got to go out to the farm, after the police and FBI and everybody had left, you could see down by where the new stage was a tree rubbed on and sandwich baggies where the sniper had been post there. I’m assuming that’s the one that shot and killed Rollie. The other one – I don’t know where he was when he shot and killed Tom.

When I got into the press conference - one of the media members didn’t show up so I was allowed to go in. I wish I had never went in because I suffer from PTSD because of this. I saw pictures of Tom and Rollie’s autopsy and a picture of Tom’s head blown clean off his head pretty much. And Rollie shot to death and everything. It was just horrifying.

I once knew these men and now I’m looking at them in an autopsy picture. They mutilated them. But basically it was like “cowboys and Indians”. They murdered them in cold blood.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, Melody Karr.

MELODY KARR: They were autopsy photos. They were gruesome. There were multiple gunshots. I mean I’m not a forensic pathologist, I’m not a…I don’t know what those photos proved other than complete brutality and overuse of force.

I know that the autopsies also …the autopsy of Rollie reported that body parts were missing – including his testicles. I just know that…of course you know that Michigan has medical marijuana now and I know in my heart that that would not have happened without Rainbow Farm.

A lot of the people who were the most involved in the campaign - not only the statewide campaign but the local initiatives that led up to it – folks that were most involved in all of these efforts met at Rainbow Farm, were inspired by Rainbow Farm.

I quit a perfectly good job to collect signatures for the 2008 statewide initiative because, I mean, Tom and Rollie died for this how could I do any less?! How could I let the effort go by without giving it my best effort?

I just…I don’t know how it could have gone differently. I think, obviously, if the laws were sane it would have gone way differently. I think if there had been some flexibility in the thinking of the authorities it could have gone differently.

I mean, Derrick DuCrane, the stage manager told them if they wanted to cool the situation out they should go to the evidence room, get the best herbage they had in there and send it in. Of course they weren’t going to consider that – that was totally outside their realm of even possibility but it’s the kind of thing that could have diffused the situation. That could have given them the chance to reconsider. But, instead, they just had to follow this play by play, “OK, you do this – we do that.” And it just led to a big escalation that no one wanted to back down from.

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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Loss of personal freedom, family and possessions, ineligible for government funding, education and licensing, housing or employment, loss of aggressive mindset in a dangerous world. This drug’s peaceful, easy feeling may be habit forming.

{{{{{ gong }}}}}

Time’s up!

The answer: Marijuana. Made by God….Prohibited by man.

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MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados! I'm Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks, Are the "War on Drugs" and "War on Terror"
the same?

An article in the University of Pittsburgh Law Review states, "Well before
the twenty-first century, the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, and the resulting War on Terror, the country and
Supreme Court already had been fighting another war for thirty years-the
so-called "War on Drugs"-and it was every bit as devastating to civil
liberties, although slower and more methodical, than our new "War on Terror"
promises to be."

The link between the two is described rhetorically by the Transform Drug
Policy Foundation, "Like the war on terror, the war on drugs is framed as a
response to an exceptional, existential threat to our health, our security,
and indeed the very fabric of society. .. The "Addiction to narcotic drugs"
is portrayed as an "evil" the international community has a moral duty to
"combat" because it is a "danger of incalculable gravity" that warrants a
series of (otherwise publicly unacceptable) extraordinary measures."

The results of this rhetoric were outlined in a Drexel Law Review article
concerning the U.S. Patriot Act, "the Passage of the Uniting and
Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept
and Obstruct Terrorism Act [shortly after 9/11] substantially increased the
authority of the government in surveillance, border security, terrorism
policing, money laundering policing, and intelligence gathering."

The University of Pittsburgh Law Review concludes, "methodically and largely
unnoticed in the name of the War on Drugs, and now more rapidly and apparent
in the War on Terrorism, our free, open society is casually losing its
grip."

These facts and others like them can be found on the Drugs and Terrorism
subchapter of the Drug War Facts Interdiction chapter at
http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

If you have a question for which you need facts, please e-mail it to me at
mjborden at drugwarfacts.org. I'll try to answer your question in an upcoming
show.

So, remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get
the facts at Drug War Facts.
 
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DEAN BECKER: That’s our tribute to Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm and Rainbow Farm. Please be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.