RED FEATHER LAKES, Colo. (CBS4)– They preach peace and non-violence but a stabbing at the Rainbow Family gathering has first responders changing their policy in regards to that camp.
The group is camping at Red Feather Lakes. Last week at least one person had to be airlifted to a hospital and several others were hurt in a stabbing.READ MORE: Snow, Rain A Welcome Sight In Colorado But Drought Still A Big Problem
Red Feather Lakes Volunteer Fire Department Chief Cris Meeks is advising her crews to wait to respond to calls at that camp until their own protection arrives.
“Absolutely, no, we will not go in without a law enforcement escort,” said Meeks.
Deputies said last week’s stabbing stemmed from a fight between members of the Rainbow Family. The group recently gathered in Utah and has set up camp in the Roosevelt National Forest between Creekmore and Lost Lakes.
Meeks said this year the dynamic seems to have changed, “I got the impression they were fighting a whole lot more than they were the year before and it makes everybody on the fire department a little bit uncomfortable because it did feel a little more aggressive.”
“If they get a 911 call, are they safe to go in? That’s certainly one of the concerns we have,” said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith.READ MORE: Colorado Community Uses 'The Social Dilemma' To Ignite Conversation About Unity, Change
Smith has agreed to Meeks’ request for deputy escorts. He visited the site and said he has beefed up patrols along County Road 73C where he has received reports of theft, panhandling, littering and violence.
“Certainly a pattern that’s different than maybe we saw 10 or 20 years ago with this group,” said Smith.
In the past week, deputies have arrested five group members, including two for the stabbing. The other three were arrested on outstanding warrants.
At one Rainbow Family campsite, members told CBS4 they are peaceful and welcoming. They said the stabbing was an unusual and isolated incident.
Some nearby businesses said they have felt the negative impact from the group.
“Our August bookings are probably half of what they were last year,” said Ramona Lake Cabins owner Rob Allman.MORE NEWS: COVID In Denver: Vaccine Focus Continues In Underserved Communities
According to Smith, there could be another 2,000 Rainbow Family members planning to arrive and camp in the area starting Aug. 1.