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Published 2:37 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- A downpour didn't deter friends of Rainbow Farm from gathering outside the old Cass County courthouse at 5:30 p.m. Monday on the second anniversary of the Labor Day weekend 2001 deaths of Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm.
Rain didn't give him second thoughts about taking part in the "remembrance vigil," Jacob said.
Its purpose is "to keep it in people's minds and as sort of a symbol of respect to the people who died. I didn't know them for a long time, but I stayed with them. We camped at the house for a while after the whole thing went down in the bust, while they were doing the court dates. I got to know them a little bit. They were really cool guys and I feel it's just a shame what happened."
While the "immediate issue" is remembering "Tom and Rollie," the "greater issue is the whole war on drugs and the war on the Constitution," said Greg, of Van Buren County. "A lot of our rights as Americans are being taken away from us. We're having to give up a lot of our rights to protect our rights."
He went to Rainbow Farm once for a concert, "so I can't say I was great friends with them. I had met them. I don't think they were doing anything to harm the community. I don't think our community is any safer today after they were killed."
As a school counselor, he's "terrified at being an activist out here. It's a real thin line I tread, but it's something I really believe in. We teach our kids citizenship and to be involved in your government. We are the government. That's what makes America work. People talk about 'The Government' like it's this entity out there. We're all the government. I have to be very clear that I'm not pro-drug. I think drugs are a public health issue -- not a law enforcement issue. This story needs to be told. It's one more example of the government trying to force people to comply and behave a certain way."
On Labor Day weekend 2001, "Tom and Rollie were executed by the forces of so-called law and order" at the campground near Vandalia. "They were not killed to protect the public safety, to punish them for smoking cannabis or because of the plants in their basement," according to the Michigan Cannabis Action Network announcement of the vigil.
Playboy's October issue features a nine-page article, "Siege at Rainbow Farm," which Melody Karr of Mesick characterized as "pretty decent -- as fair as anything else I've seen, more so than many. Word of warning: it does include graphic photos of Tom's and Rollie's bodies."
Cass County authorities on Friday of that fateful Labor Day weekend tried to peacefully resolve a standoff that developed around noon.
Three buildings were set ablaze.
There were reports of gunfire, including a shot that struck a news helicopter.
Law enforcement surrounded the 34-acre compound where they had made drug-related arrests in a May raid.
Black smoke billowed from a pavilion which burned to the ground. WNDU-TV Channel 16's news chopper, flying over the facility to check out an initial report of a fire, landed back in South Bend, Ind., with a bullet hole through its horizontal stabilizer.
Since firing on an aircraft is a federal offense, authorities cordoned off the area and evacuated homes near the campground on Pemberton Road in Newberg Township as a precaution due to the combination of flames and gunfire.
Grover "Tom" Crosslin, the property's owner since 1993, had failed to appear for a 1:30 p.m. court date related to civil forfeiture of the property. Prosecutors had hoped to revoke Crosslin's bond based on the resumption of drug dealing.
Labor Day weekend at Rainbow Farm in previous years meant the "Roach Roast" festival attracting thousands of people from across the country.
Cass County Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge on May 21 had granted a preliminary injunction to halt plans for a Memorial Day event, Hemp Fest.
Then on June 29 Dodge ordered that Rainbow Farm "may not be utilized for festival gatherings of a nature which have given rise to the nuisance conduct demonstrated at the hearing before this court on May 21."
That ruling came in response to a request by Prosecuting Attorney Scott Teter, now with Attorney General Mike Cox's office, and Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, now governor of Michigan, for a preliminary injunction to prevent any other gatherings while the nuisance abatement action filed against Rainbow Farm and Crosslin was pending.
Teter said investigation revealed ongoing and widespread use, delivery and possession of controlled substances, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, hashish, LSD, opium and prescription drugs at Rainbow Farm festivals.
Teen-agers attended the festivals for easy access to controlled substances. A veteran Calhoun County detective who worked the site undercover said a "gamut of drugs" were available, from event staff smoking marijuana to buys he made, including from a vendor.
Wherever there were people, there were people using drugs; drug use was "rampant," Dan Latta testified. Crosslin "was partaking in it," passing a pipe around, the detective testified.
Festivals were promoted through a Web site on the Internet that earned Cass County national notoriety in High Times magazine.
On April 21, 2001, in Berrien County's Sodus Township, Konrad Joseph Hornack of Eau Claire, whose vehicle collided with the Eau Claire girls softball team, died after leaving the "420" festival at Rainbow Farm.
Michigan Assistant Attorney General David Tanay said he had no problem with the legalize-marijuana message Rainbow Farm promoted, but that it did not correlate with what investigation showed to actually be occurring at the campground.
After a four-day standoff, in which the FBI and Michigan State Police joined local authorities, Crosslin was shot and killed Sept. 3 by a federal sharpshooter after reportedly pointing a rifle at him while hiking to a neighboring home for food.
Rohm died the next day after setting fire to the farmhouse he shared with Crosslin. Troopers in an armored vehicle moved in to arrest him, but shot him when he reportedly raised his rifle.