Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Playing the Game

Karin's Ideas on how not to pull the Go Directly To Jail Card

There is a game that is being played at the gathering every year, and if you don't know the rules, it can really make your gathering miserable. Just a quick hello to Law Enforcement reading this post, you already know the rules you are using, so read or don't read (makes no difference to me).


When you come home this summer, the roads leading into the gathering will have strategically placed teams of law enforcement officers from the United States Forest Service whose sole goal in being there is to bust you for something. Now of course, they're hoping for something large like an ounce of pot so they can prove to the powers that be that they are protecting the public from hardened criminals. However, they will take anything they can get. This means that broken tail light, a failure to use a left turn signal even though you're in a parking lot at 2 AM and no one else is around. The list goes on and on: beads hanging from your rear view mirror, lack of car seat for a five year old child who is really skinny, faint brake lights, etc. They will stop you, pull you over, and find something, almost anything and then write a mandatory court appearance ticket. While they do this, they will take a photo of you in addition to all the usual stuff.

If you don't show up on time at the mandatory court appearance, the USFS LEOs and the US Marshals will come back to the gathering, use the photo they took to search for you by face, arrest you and take you off to jail. (Yes for the most part, even a broken tail light will result in a mandatory court appearance when you are in the vicinity of a gathering even though back home that would not be the case).

This game doesn't stop at the road, but continues into the gathering. If you see cops, please put your dogs on leash and take whatever steps necessary to be 100% legal. If they stop you for smoking a joint, take the ticket and go to court.

This is the game. I recommend trying not to play. If, however, you do end up in the game, DO NOT BLOW OFF YOUR COURT DATE! Some years the courts are so overwhelmed they are will to take a $10 fine for some stupid infraction. I personally have had experiences ranging from paying a $40 fine with six months to mail in the money to having all charges dropped. Both of which trump spending a couple of days in jail. Therefore, let me say it again: Do Not Blow Off Your Court Date. If you receive a ticket and you're not sure what to do, go to INFO and ask who to talk to. Most years there are various lawyers who show up at the gathering and many of these wonderful brothers and sisters will go to the court dates and be there to provide free legal advice. Take advantage of what ever help people are willing to provide if you don't have your own lawyer.

If you blow off your court date, a federal bench warrant will be issued for your arrest and you can be yanked off the street at any time in the future and sent directly to jail, you won't pass GO and there won't be family around to support you. Please deal with it as right away. Many times if there is a fine, you won't have to pay it right away.

Karin's tips for a safe journey home:

If you plan on driving, make sure your car and driver is 100% legal-all lights work, valid insurance and registration, seat belts, car seats for children. Our government assumes that we are criminals. Please try to arrive during daylight hours as the roads into gathering sites can be tricky and we want you to arrive home safely.

If you will be sharing a ride, please meet the folks you'll be riding with at a local coffee shop, make sure you feel comfortable traveling a long distance with them, and establish the ground rules. If you are coming via bus, plane or train, try to connect up with a ride from your destination before you get there. If you are planning on hitchhiking, please travel with a buddy, only bum rides during the day and if you get a bad feeling from a ride, PLEASE don't take it. There will always be another one. Make sure you know the laws regarding hitchhiking in the state we will be in this summer.

*Always* say no to requests for search, no matter what they tell you. It is not illegal for cops to lie to you, and they often will do so to get your consent to search. "You might as well give us permission, because if you do not, we will go get a warrant and you will be here for hours." This is a bluff. Don't fall for it. Their time is much more valuable than yours.

If they insist on searching over your objections, don't prevent them physically in anyway - but continue to repeat "I do not consent." Ask for names and badge numbers, write down time, place, and what happened in detail. Every little thing matters in a court of law, even the things that don't mean much to you or me. If you can, take pictures, videos, and/or tape recordings. If you are not being detained, but can observe and/or record family being detained, please do so. the 5 minutes of video you provide may help keep your brother or sister out of jail.

Also, if they ask you if you have contraband, and tell you that if you have just a little bit and give it to them that they will not search you, tell them no. Never, never, never incriminate yourself. That means don't consent to anything, don't give them anything but your license, registration, and proof of insurance, don't admit to anything. When approaching the Gathering site, remember that you're coming as friends in somebody else's back yard. Treat the local folks with the courtesy, respect and concern that they deserve as members of the Family of Humankind. Be Loving and Kind. Don't be rude, steal, trash the town, disturb the Peace, or try to "shock" people. Be mindful of others' sensitivities. Remember the original Golden Rule when dealing with BOTH Babylon AND Rainbow: Treat Others the Way you want to be treated! Please, make your journey a safe one. Don't be under the influence while driving.

Let's all get home safely.


  1. Most states prohibit anything from obstructing the view out the windshield, and you can be pulled over for stuff hanging from your mirror, stuff on the dashboard and any kind of sticker other than an inspection sticker on the windshield. You'll probably get a pass for an EZ Pass unit, but I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't. Most states also prohibit any kind of non-factory installed tinting or stickers on the front driver and passenger side windows.

  2. Nice site, very informative. I like to read this.,it is very helpful in my part for my criminal law studies.

  3. I want to use rainbow umbrellas to obscure their observations and searches for faces. Bring Rainbow Umbrellas to the Gathering and surround the LEO's when they come into camp.

  4. Hey Hey much love to all can't wait to get home THANK YOU for all the info it is so helpful. as far as the law goes remember to think positive, nothing but good vibes and pray for some of your good karma to be cashed in. much love hope everyone arrives safely, dont forget your instruments whaaaahooo.PEACE