Marijuana Killings at Rainbow Farm

Were Grover (Tom) Crosslin and Rolland Rohm determined to become martyrs for the right to smoke pot?

If you believe the press reports on the shootings at the Rainbow Farm in Vandalia, Michigan, last month, that's the only conclusion that makes sense.

Unless, of course, the official version is as rubbery as the "facts" in the shootings at Ruby Ridge and Waco, and the Olympic Park bombing.

Farm owner Crosslin, 47, was shot after reportedly pointing a gun at an FBI agent on Labor Day Monday and refusing to drop it as ordered. His housemate Rohm, 28, died the next morning after pointing a rifle at a Michigan State Police trooper and again refusing to drop his weapon.

The two were under investigation for drug activities which took place at the 34-acre farm, home of the annual HempAid and RoachRoast festivals. They died in an apocalyptic setting, having set fire to the buildings on the farm, which was targeted for confiscation as part of the War on Drugs.

Last week, the press painted two views of the men: on one hand, they were described as generous, peace-loving hippie types who distributed Christmas presents each year to poor folks in Vandalia from the back of their pickup truck. On the other, they presided over what the Free Press described as an orgy of nudity, sex and drug use -- even involving children as young as seven years old smoking pot.

But whatever Crosslin and Rohm were, they clearly believed in their 4th Amendment right to privacy and the sanctity of the home -- a constitutional right which has been under fire so often this past decade. It's the right to be free from unwarranted search and seizure by the government in one's own home.

Unfortunately, they crossed the line of what is allowed under the 4th Amendment by breaking the law on their property in a highly public manner. You can't announce a pot festival statewide and not expect the cops to come calling -- it's like waving a red flag at a bull.

Yet so many questions remain unanswered in the shootings. Why weren't family members allowed to negotiate with the men early on? Why weren't non-lethal measures used, such as rubber bullets or tear gas? Why the head shots instead of a leg? Why didn't officers remain at a distance for a few days until tempers cooled down?

And most of all, why did Crosslin and Rohm commit virtual suicide by pointing rifles at officers on the scene? The two were unabashed supporters of marijuana, but friends and family members said they doubted either was inclined to die for their beliefs.

Yet, as a friend said, "You can push people until they break. I think they were pushed until they broke. That's not the people I knew."

Sometimes, as H. L. Mencken once said, "Even reasonable men are driven to raise the black flag and slit a few throats." As marijuana activists, Crosslin and Rohm probably weren't "reasonable" men as most citizens would define that term, but still, there has to be some doubt as to whether they were crazy enough to submit themselves to execution by FBI and State Police snipers.

Today, many arrests are routinely videotaped, and one can only imagine that an engagement involving both the State Police and the FBI was taped. We need to see those tapes at once to verify the facts of this case. We need to know that citizens aren't simply being executed willy-nilly whenever a 4th Amendment issue is at stake. Nothing less than our freedom depends on it.

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