**************Begin forwarded message*************
D. Wirtshafter, Attorney at Law
S. Addison, PCU_/Free Assembly Project
1 January 2009 - PUBLIC RESOURCE INFO -
Rainbow Investigation by OIG - I. Full Info ~
~ Witness Statements & Evidence are needed for an Inspector General's
investigation of Rainbow Gathering harassment... a new opportunity
to bring extreme Forest Service tactics to light, and stop interference
in peaceable public gatherings for expression and prayer.
** BACKGROUND ~
In a phone conference with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on 12/9/08, outgoing Under Secretary Mark Rey disclosed that an investigation was launched last July in the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG), related to incidents at 'Rainbow Gathering '08' in Wyoming. Our factfinding started the next day, with phone queries to OIG headquarters in DC, followed by a faxed letter on 10/13.
A response came by phone on 12/18 from their office in Denver, where this case was referred... the Assistant Special Agent In-Charge confirmed the protocol for public inputs, and discussed their procedures at some length.
This advisory draws on the counsel of experienced volunteers & legal workers around the gatherings, presented in 2 parts:
Here, "I. Full Info ~"... reporting complete facts on the OIG investigation, its scope, status, and requirements, and providing suggestions & resources for preparing submittals.
In tandem, "II. Discussion ~"... examining the process & politics of an Inspector General review, with concerns for key issues in any 'Rainbow' investigation, and cautions on possible outcomes.
** SCOPE OF INVESTIGATION ~
The stated focus is the July 3 incident at Kid Village -- defined at the outset by the original request within USDA, although the OIG Special Agent could not confirm the source or substance by phone.
In this light, it was made it clear to him that this was NOT an isolated incident, but "extreme and bellweather" in a long pattern of escalating harassment, crossing a new threshold of violence: It was the first 'Rainbow' gathering where LEO's had actually fired weapons (of any kind) at unarmed people -- although in recent years various provocations have approached this level of danger.
The July 3 incident is significant and worthy of investigation in its own right -- but it is inextricable from the broader history, and has to be understood in this context. To this end, some background perspectives were outlined in the call -- especially the 'Group Use' permit controversy which has raged for 12 years and remains unresolved, and the targeted police roadblocks which were found unconsitutional in 2 Federal courts, yet persist.
Curiously, the lead agent on this OIG case was unaware of the concurrent investigation and ensuing Report of ACLU-Wyoming. All this was explained on the phone, and their October 3 Report was conveyed with thanks in a followup eMail to the Denver office.
** SUBMITTALS TO USDA-OIG ~
The following address is confirmed, with a further option of using email:
attn: William Busby, Asst. Special Agent In-Charge
USDA Office of Inspector General -- Investigations
12136 W. Bayaud Ave. - Ste. 210
Lakewood, CO 80228
~ Reference 'Investigation.... Rainbow '08....' (this is flexible), Case # KC899-0025.
~ Send materials by Certified Mail to confirm delivery, if possible.
1st -- they need 1st-hand written accounts of the July 3 incident, as well as photos and video documentation provided by the makers... supported facts are useful, proselytic rants are not.
Then -- also document other incidents & issues at the Wyoming '08 Gathering, to establish the pattern of official actions and sway of applied policies at this event... (this may extend to previous gatherings as well, 'pushing the scope' -- more on this in Pt. II).
Send signed/affirmed originals*, with reliable contact information... agents may need to follow up by contacting witnesses directly, and sometimes interviewing them in-person.
** PREPARING MATERIALS:
-- Writing a Statement: Give a simple chronological account of the incident(s); short numbered paragraphs are best. State the location, date, and time, what you were doing there; describe what occurred with careful details on actions & statements made, and provide names, agencies, & badge numbers of the Officials involved. Say what YOU know or observed... reports from known sources can be noted, but unconfirmed hearsay is not useful.
If helpful, use this 'OIG-Rainbow' Statement Form, prepared as a formal
presentation to this case investigation, with instructions included --
downloadable in 'RTF' format, easily adapted as a clean final document.
-- *Signing with Affirmation: Per OIG, it was "not critical" to sign with a notary, but this is still the best way to confirm one's identity as signer. As an alternative, include the following affirmation at the end, which serves to authenticate the statement & signature under Federal law:
"I declare under the penalties of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746
that the above statements are true."
-- Submitting via eMail: Sending statements by postal mail is better, but OIG agreed to accept information by email as well. You cannot actually 'sign' an email, so the above Affirmation is especially important. It's a good idea to compose your statement as a printable attached document (Word '.doc', 'rtf', or 'txt' format), cleaner than an in-line message on an email page. Also, request confirmation that it was received and entered into the case record.
- - Presenting Photos, Videos, & Audios: If you took photos or videos of an incident, or made an audio recording, such items must be 'authenticated' - i.e., affirmed as a true record of events, made by you personally. (Download an all-purpose 'Authentication' form here, ask for help if needed.)
This carries far more credibility than anonymous Web images or 'YouTube' videos... and it makes these items usable for legal purposes, and admissible as evidence if needed.
-- Preserving Documentation: Rights advocates & allies need to know what goes into this investigative record, what statements and records are presented, and to make sure that these materials are preserved for public-interest research and legal purposes. An agreeable attorney can protect this information and share it appropriately... please send copies of OIG submittals, and/or cc- by email:
Don Wirtshafter, Attorney email:
PO Box 18 (7002 State Rte. 329)
Guysville, OH 43735
Questions, ideas, debate, and support are encouraged.
Respectfully: scottie addison Don Wirtshafter
PCU_/Free Assembly Project Attorney at Law
St. Louis, Missouri Guysville, Ohio