By Heath Urie,dailycamera.com – Five members of the “Rainbow Familyâ – a loose-knit band of hippies that preaches love, tolerance and peace and is best known for its large gatherings every July – were arrested Tuesday night by Boulder County sheriff’s deputies after a violent brawl broke out at the group’s campsite near Ward.
Deputies responded at about 6:30 p.m. to a report that a fight had broken out among a group of a dozen people camping out in the area of Ruby Gulch, located on state Forest Service property along the Peak to Peak Highway between the towns of Nederland and Ward.
When deputies arrived, witnesses reported that one man, a Nederland resident aged 34 or 35, was hit in the back of the head multiple times with a shovel and possibly stabbed in the neck during the fight, Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Lindsey said.
Some witnesses reported a second person being stabbed, although no other victims were located, Lindsey said.
“No one could tell us who was stabbed,â Lindsey said. “We still haven’t got much information.â
The injured man, whose name was not released, had to be air lifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. He has not been able to speak with investigators about the incident, Lindsey said.
Soon after the fight, sheriff’s deputies and Nederland police contacted a bus filled with as many as 12 people leaving the area of the reported fight, Lindsey said.
Andrew Joseph, 24, was arrested on suspicion of felony assault and menacing.
Three others – Patrick Register, 25, Jaron Smith, 30, and Jerry Mullenix, 34 – were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault for allegedly being involved in the brawl.
Ari Perlman, 34, was arrested on an active warrant, Lindsey said.
Sheriff’s officials said everyone allegedly involved in the fight was part of a “splinter groupâ of Rainbow Family members who earlier this month were kicked out of a campsite in Pinedale, Wyo., after the group became “very violentâ during a national assembly.
Lindsey said about 100 members of the larger gathering have so far made their way to the Nederland area. Authorities, he said, are keeping their eyes on them.
“They’re coming out still,â Lindsey said. “We always have patrols there. Every year, there have been problems (at the campsite).â
The event has shaken some members of the Rainbow community, which on Wednesday afternoon was made up of about 50 people sharing food, tents and other supplies at the bottom of a Forest Service access road about a quarter-mile from the Peak to Peak Highway.
A man calling himself Papa Stone, 38, of Seattle, said he’d been camping in the area for three weeks, and news of the fight led about half of the group to leave the site overnight.
“It’s not what we represent,â he said. “We represent free love. We’re out here showing people you can live with a group of people and share life without the complication of money and bills.â
Ken, a 26-year-old Florida resident who would only give his first name, was maintaining a “trading blanketâ along the access route Wednesday.
He said the fight should not reflect the group as a whole, and that the incident happened at a so-called “A camp,â where alcohol is prevalent. Alcohol is not allowed by the larger group, which has congregated deeper into the forest. Read more…