Meeting addresses concerns surrounding Rainbow Family gathering
DILLON, Mont. - We've been following this story since May, when we learned the gathering will be in Montana.
We went to Dillon Middle School where local law enforcement and the Forest Service held a meeting to address concerns surrounding the Rainbow Family Gathering. Rainbow Family individuals and community members addressed their concerns and law enforcement dispelled rumors surrounding the event.
At the meeting, the Forest Service and the police gave the latest news about the gathering. As of now, there are about 1700 people at the site, and they are expecting up to 20,000 people by the 4th.
This influx of people is causing a spike in crime.
Beaverhead Sheriff Jay Hansen said, "the crime is up and that's because there's additional people here, and when there are additional people, a certain percentage of that group is involved in criminal activity."
Rainbow Family individuals at the meeting spoke up against the rumors circulating around Dillon.
Rainbow Family individual "Sibling" explained, "the community has a lot of concerns and questions and it's the best direct line of communication to sit and listen to their concerns and answer them directly."
We asked "Sibling" about the reports of pan-handling, trespassing, and theft.
She told us, "the gathering is like a slice of American pie."
She explained that means there is a tough crusty edge and a sweet middle. She told us the majority of the people involved in the gathering are respectful and law abiding, but there are people who cause trouble.
Everyone we talked to said they hope these meetings will put to rest some of the community members' concerns
"It's the culture shock," said Sibling, "but by the end you'll see a lot of these folks that are dirty and funny looking are the hardest workers who will stay and do most of the cleanup."
By communicating openly and working together, law enforcement, the Fire Service, and the Rainbow Family hope to have an overall positive experience this year.
Another community meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Wisdom Community Center in Wisdom.
For updates from the Forest Service, follow them on Twitter, @fs_region1.