An anarchist response to the police murder at a Rainbow gathering near Tenterfield NSW

On April 16 Ryan Pringle, the 33 year old son of a former Balmain rugby league star was shot to death by police at a rural commune called the “School of Happiness” in Northern NSW. The details of this sad day are not completely clear, but it seems that Ryan had arrived at the camp earlier that day, as a group called the Rainbow Family Australia was preparing for a 6 week gathering.

After some time at the commune he began acting in a violent and erratic manner, threatening Rainbow Family members with a knife in what some of the group described as a ‘psychotic episode’. Three of the campers fled the scene and drove to the nearby town of Tenterfield where they alerted police to the disturbance. Pringle reportedly threatened the remaining 10 campers for nine hours, apparently punching three of them, and dislocating one man’s shoulder.

After police arrived Pringle reportedly dropped his knife and fled into the woods before returning with a crossbow and demanding police drop their weapons. It is at this point police apparently opened fire, first with a taser then a firearm.

Of the police actions, the Rainbow Family made the following statement ''We would like to thank the police officers who came to our aid... That the media paint the police in a less than glorious light is an offence to decency. They were, and are, our champions and we are forever in their debt.''

The Rainbow Family Australia are an ideal expression of the ideology of nonviolence and this tragedy perfectly represents the impossibility of pacifism in practice. When faced with the threat of violence, pacifism necessarily results in either default submission to the aggressor or the delegation of violence to those who practice it professionally.

For a pacifist to request and applaud violence carried out on their behalf, is not only blatant hypocrisy, but shows their ideology to be a cover for their own fear and rejection of the responsibility to protect oneself and ones comrades. Such sentiments and attitudes are sadly familiar amongst many privileged hippies and activists who passionately claim the righteousness of non-violence, while accepting the institutional violence of police and prisons as natural.

Like the Rainbow Family we believe passionately in the creation of communes as liberating alternatives to life under capital and indeed we believe that if a commune is to survive it must be defended. A commune must be safe space for its members or it must not exist. We do not look toward some imaginary world were all human beings will live in complete harmony, where no one will show aggression toward one another, nor do we believe we can travel to some far away location to escape from the violence of the rest of society.
We encourage those who set out to create communes and intentional communities to train themselves in individual and collective self defence and to have the necessary tools at hand to confront violence from outside but also from within the commune when the need arises.

Unlike the Rainbow Family we make no demands for peace under capitalism. The reigning status quo and the illusion of social peace is upheld by a constant war on the poor. The ever militarised police act as frontline troops against the nation’s internal enemies, that surplus population that exists without a stake in the market, those who fill the queues in Centrelink and outside charity vans, who live in parks, housing commissions and prison cells. For the marginalised, the indigenous, the young and rebellious, the police are not considered ‘champions’ to be celebrated, but oppressors to be evaded and resisted.

This year’s 150th anniversary of the NSW Police Force has already been dogged by numerous scandals, from an increase in complaints of police brutality to an increase in gun crime which police have shown themselves powerless to stop. In January Mark Murdoch, the force's second highest ranking cop was found attempting to cover up the public bashing of a cricket fan by his 24 year old cop son and in April senior police in one of Sydney’s largest commands were found to have been altering crime statistics.

The shooting death of Ryan Pringle was the third murder by NSW police in less then a month. On March 18, 21 year old Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti was chased, tasered and pepper sprayed by 6 police and died soon afterwards. On March 26, following a high speed chase policeman shot dead 34 year old Darren Neill in the food court of Parramatta Westfield.
Then on the 22nd of April, Police fired 6 shots into the windshield of a reportedly stolen car carrying 6 aboriginal youth in Kings Cross. The 14 year old driver was shot in the chest and the arm, while 17 year old Troy Taylor was shot in the neck, then dragged out of the car by police and repeatedly punched in the head, both have been charged in hospital, where they remain in serious condition.

There is a very real sense of outrage towards police simmering in parts of this society, a growing discontent with the potential to explode. An April 24 anti-police rally outside NSW Parliament was attended by many furious youth sick of constant police harassment and brutality; we stood with these youths on Tuesday in direct opposition to any calls for calm. Police violence is business as usual and if we wish to oppose it, we must be prepared to respond to in kind.

Many smaller expressions of rage against police injustice have gone unnoticed by mainstream media, such as the two anarchists arrested for painting messages at the site of Roberto Laudicio's murder last month. The two wrote “Disarm the pigs”, “No Tasers, No Guns. Mothers Keep their Sons”, "RIP Roberto" and “Solidaridao”, before being chased down and tackled by police. The pair were both charged with malicious damage.

To everyone sick of life under cops and capitalists, we extend a wave of solidarity but also a call to live, to dream, to attack and to liberate territory from police occupation and to form rural and urban communes based on our mutual desires.

Freedom to Michael Alan Jacobs and all prisoners of war.


Its a sad day at the old hippy commune when even they aren't safe from armed lunatics.I mean whats he doing there with a knife and a crossbow for Christs sake.They are alive...he is not ergot the world is a better place and one more nut job has been dispatched to where they deserve to be.As for attacking the commune for thanking the cops well would you have just talked to this clown when he has a crossbow aimed at you.I consider myself an anarchist at heart but not stupid and alas I'm not a pacifist as they only get themselves killed for no good reason.

That bloke had a family who he loved and they loved him also very much, you didn't know him nor were you there, there will be a inquest where the truth will come out, did you know that the 2 coppers that were there were Actually husband and wife. What the hell are nsw police thinking sending a married couple to what was supposedly a violent domestic situation, don't comment on things you know nothing about

Interesting commentary on my press release... We had this guy on the ground... one of us decked him then he pulled out the knife and got seriously violent... He punched most of the woman in the face and terrorized us for hours... with the knives... He was on designer drugs, acid, and alcohol. He had no sense of feeling like he was numb to pain and was a really big guy... his last face book post was "i am going hunting" and he meant hippies... he was not apart of our event, which had not even started... He was a friend of the owner of the property whom was an end of the world survivalist who had automatic weapons in the ground... I have been organizing these events for 15 years and this was unlike anything that went on before it... this is what i posted on my website after i had recovered.

In April 2012 I was caught in a crossfire… A drug crazed larrikin holding a crossbow, stood at the open passenger side door of my van. A country cop stood at my open drivers side door with his service revolver aimed at the larrikin. I was crouched in my drivers seat and my best friend was crouched in the middle seat. It was 10 pm on a cold Autumn night in Tenterfield three hours west of Byron Bay. The copper gave the larrikin every chance to drop the crossbow. I held on to my best friend feeling that I was breathing my last breath. Eventually the copper shot the larrikin dead a few feet in front of my van. The sound of the gun firing several times a few feet from my head made me leap out of my skin. I jumped out of my van and was pulled into a group hug as I hyperventilated in shock. I thru up. My worldview and my very being had been rocked to the core.

I met an Australian woman 2 weeks after the incident and she was surprised I still “hanging on” to the trauma. Maybe she was unaware that for some, it may take years to come to terms with violence. I found refuge with a Lebanese man whom also has experienced death as a youth in his homeland. His compassion provided sanctuary. A small circle of Israelis heard what had happened and when they saw me they did not ask how I was, they just hugged me. This what I needed. To feel safe. I will say that now I am 90% recovered. Empowered even. Transformed definitely.

What did I get out of all this? We are conditioned…. Blind faith in the media, education, religion and government has lead to an apathetic and complacent culture called Australia. I believe we as a people are warm and compassionate deep down. I see it when-ever there is a crisis. Regardless of race, religion or class we genuinely want to help. This is a country of big hearts yet on a surface level we have a culture of loneliness and isolation. Friends of mine from Spain, Israel and other cultures feel it keenly when they settle in Australia. The sun may be warm and we as a people are open and friendly but many find our culture to be cold. In my opinion it has to do with empowerment.

We do not as a culture empower or encourage each other. Our conditioning has us cut each other down to the point where we do it to ourselves. There is even a name for it. The “Tall Poppy” Syndrome. Then there’s the greeting, “How’s it goin c**t?” Or how about, “What the f**k you lookin at?” Are these the statements of a culture that is empowered or based on co-operation? I believe this is fundamental. “Have a shot of concrete and harden the f**k up” I hear some say. The oppression of women, the predatory nature of capitalism and inciting violence are based on a lack of ethics and no social conscience. The proof for me is in the children.

Many of my friends are parents and once a number of us went camping and I invited a friend of mine to join us. She is a state school teacher and remarked to me how amazed she was with the attitude of our children. She commented on their sense of confidence and the level of understanding they had in their communication with adults. This gives me hope.

A change is coming and I am apart of it. I will continue to inspire, empower and build strong communities, for that is our future. I believe in you. The people. The issues in front of us are many but so are we… I have learned that there is no one answer or one way to do anything. This is what your conditioning tells you. Question everything… Be the 2 year old that has just woken up for that is where we are. Waking up… The corporate world treats us like children, like we can not think for ourselves or make the best decisions and unless we are informed they are right. Seek independent views on important issues. Most of the media on TV is opinion not fact. Stand up for what you believe and you’ll probably find you are not alone. Put petty differences aside for we have more in common that what may divide us. Celebrate our diversity instead for that diversity shall expand our horizons. I implore you to please get off the couch, go next door, talk with your neighbour, walk to the end of the street, climb the nearest hill and shout!!. Demand and end to injustice. Demand ethics and transparency. And do not be quiet until it is done. We have the answers, we know what is right and we are not afraid…..

September 2012

Beautiful Aneira, totally agree!:)

You can not quote The Rainbow Family as having made a statement. An individual or many members may make a statement but they can never speak for The Rainbow Family as a whole. I personaly will not comment on what did or did not happen at this event as I was NOT there and anyone who believes they can know the rights or wrongs of this without having been there is foolish. I have been to many rainbow gatherings but I would not identify myself as a member of anything because that is not what it is about, except maybe being a member of the human race. I would also say that there are individuals who go to gatherings who would not define themselves as pacifists. Personnaly I don't take a stance on whether I am a pacifist or not. How can you decide you are a pacifist? Is this not being against violence? That sounds like violence against violence to me. I have seen violence at rainbow and it was ALLWAYS built up to and could have been chilled before it got to the physical stage. Peace is not non violence. Non violence is not peace. Peace is accepting what is and accepting the action that results from the moment being expressed purely without premeditation and therefore not knowing what said action would be. Action from a place of acceptence would rarly result in violence but you could not say it would never result in physical harm. This cannot be know.

As for this being an Anarchists response. Well how can you be an anarchist if you know how you are going to respond to a given situation. If you know you have premeditated so therefore planned it and a plan must have a rule. Where is the anarchy. I have met more anarchists at Rainbow Gatherings where most (not all) have few if any rules about how they live.

All such events should work out how exposed they are in security - they should have someone who is "capable" of handling it - all contingencies - or hire someone who can - this is the real world after day it will be different..