Two prominent Michigan marijuana activists were shot dead Labor Day weekend, during a police siege of the activists’ “Rainbow Farm” compound in Vandalia, Michigan.
Tom Crosslin, a 47-year-old events promoter who hosted pro-marijuana concerts and rallies on his rural Southern Michigan land, was shot dead by federal and state police on Monday. Rolland Rohm, 28, was shot Tuesday morning. Agencies involved in the fatal siege include the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Crosslin, Rohm and their allies have been sponsoring counterculture events, including two High Times “WHEE” festivals, for several years. Entertainers like Merle Haggard and The Birds graced the stage at Rainbow Farms happenings, which were also known for their freewheeling recreational activities, such as the famous “nude hippie mountain mud slide.”
Police and other anti-drug minions had spent years trying to shut down Rainbow Farms using techniques similar to those used against Oregon pot events promoter Bill Conde, New York events organizer Rob Uncle Sam, and Washington landowner-activist Gideon Israel. Crosslin had bitterly complained about police roadblocks, undercover officers, and other harassment, which he believed were being used to keep people away from his popular counterculture resort.
In May, police stormed Crosslin’s 34-acre property and arrested him in connection with alleged marijuana use and cultivation, as well as possession of firearms. Crosslin and his attorneys insisted that the arrests were a politically motivated attempt to shut down pro-marijuana activities that were generally peaceful and posed no threat to the community.
Authorities responded by investigating Crosslin’s accounting records and by court-ordering him to abstain from holding any more marijuana-related events on his land. They also initiated asset forfeiture proceedings, which Crosslin described to friends as “the government trying to steal my property because they don’t like my political views.”
Crosslin was out on $150,000 bond, facing 15 years in prison and the loss of his property when he allegedly defied the court order and held a pot event at Rainbow Farms in August.
Just before Labor Day weekend, officials told Crosslin his bond was going to be revoked. Crosslin responded by setting fire to many of the buildings on his property, and by allegedly shooting at media aircraft and police aircraft that flew over his home as the situation became an armed siege.
As Labor Day weekend commenced, squadrons of FBI agents and foot soldiers surrounded the farm. Although police reports about Crosslin’s death were not delivered in a timely manner and contain puzzling omissions, current reports indicate that an FBI agent killed Crosslin Monday afternoon when Crosslin and another activist discovered the agent on Rainbow Farms property. Police allege that Crosslin pointed a gun at the agent before he was shot.
The siege continued because Rohm and other Crosslin associates refused to surrender. Police say Rohm was shot early Tuesday because he too pointed a gun at an officer. Friends of Crosslin and Rohm who were camped near the Farm in a support encampment disputed police reports, saying that the dead pair were legally walking on their own property when they were shot in cold blood by police.
Crosslin was widely respected in the North American marijuana movement and even among his conservative non-pot smoking neighbors in Southern Michigan. He had a 20 year history of civil rights activism. He bought and restored a historic brick house built in 1807 that had been used by anti-slavery “Underground Railroad” activists during the 1800’s, intending to use the house as an educational “bed and breakfast.” He donated thousands of dollars to local charities, and worked hard to keep hard drugs, sexual harassment, and violence out of his popular events, which sometimes drew as many as 20,000 visitors.
Cannabis movement videographer and potographer Chadman, whose digital photos and movies have been widely distributed in cannabis media and mainstream media, told Cannabis Culture that he had been to a dozen events at Rainbow Farm in the last two years.
“Tom was a dedicated, caring guy,” Chadman reported. “He wasn’t a militia guy or a gun nut, but he did believe in the Constitution and in freedom, and he felt that if other people have a right to put on events where thousands of people get drunk, shoot guns, tie cattle in ropes and otherwise act crazy, that he had a right to provide a campground and entertainment for our non-violent marijuana culture. He hated the marijuana laws, and felt that people being busted for pot and the harassment of his events was a sign that America has become a police state.”
According to Chadman, Crosslin’s resolve hardened after his arrest in May.
“He felt that the government was trying to destroy his beliefs and his marijuana family,” Chadman explained. “He told people that he was beginning to think that he had to take this all the way, that he couldn’t go on allowing the government to attack him and his friends relentlessly without good cause, that he had to ‘go out in a blaze.’ He felt that the government was trying to kill him. I don’t advocate the use of weapons or violence as a way of legalizing marijuana, but Tom was pushed to this. He wasn’t a violent man or a wacko. I’m very sorry that he’s gone and that the other guy has been killed as well. Tom was a serious advocate for marijuana. I had great times at his events. They were well-organized and real fun. It’s so sad. I guess Tom just couldn’t take it any more. He decided to go out fighting. He’s another casualty of this stupid drug war.”
Rainbow Farm: www.rainbowfarmcampground.com