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[This is an excerpt from Rainbow Gatherings, Chapter 9, The No Rain Gathering, about a regional gathering on the border of Virginia and West Virginia. Pocahontas County and Marlinton are in West Virginia.]
The second Saturday started out with everybody in a somber mood.
During the night a teenage brother had been given some LSD and somehow wound up walking a long distance down the road and the hill from the gathering. A Pocohontas County police officer came to the gathering late that morning and asked if anyone there had any information on him. They had picked him up in response to some phone calls about him, and taken him to the county jail in Marlinton. He was found dead in his cell. The police’s story was that it was a suicide.
This man I will give the full name of, because this book may be the only memorial there is to him: Dominic Moya.
The news sent a shock wave thru the gathering, and a council down in the meadow was called to discuss it. The circle formed, an Om was said, and the feather was passed while everybody spoke their feelings.
Some people who had known him told us more about him. He had been homeless and transient for quite some time, and he talked bitterly of the times he had been in Albuquerque and the run-ins he had with the police there. He was deathly afraid of cops, and this latest encounter combined with the LSD had apparently sent him off on a fatal bad trip.
Some people were asking who it was that had given him the LSD, saying that was extremely unwise, but nobody confessed and nobody seemed to know. Some others cursed the police for handling him insensitively, tho nobody at the circle was there to have witnessed any of it. Others asked why nobody had been watching him and preventing him from wandering off in his intoxicated state. Finally we all saw it as a chain of events that could have been broken at any point by somebody, but nobody did because nobody imagined that it could have ended this tragically
Somebody produced some sheets of paper that he had drawn some pictures on, and they were obviously the expressions of a tortured mind: pictures of weapons and people being struck by them, big black clouds, and faces with pained expressions. There was one picture of a man being kicked by a shoe at the end of a pant leg with a stripe down the side like a policeman would wear, and the label A.P.D. on it [Albuquerque Police Department]. Somebody found a piece of thick cardboard and mounted the pictures on it to make a display, and leaned it against a rock. Some other people put incense sticks, crystals, and other talismans like I had found around Peace Poles by it. I never found out where it had been taken after the gathering.
After this gathering I heard more about this from Robbie Gordon, who became involved in the investigation of his death by an insurance company. Somebody used one match to set a whole box of them ablaze, and this flare-up freaked out Dominic’s amped up mind and he ran away in panic. He went into a woman’s house, startled her, and got into an altercation where he threw a chair thru a window, then he ran off again into a nearby field. He finally came back to the road around sunrise, and a man passing by in a pickup truck offered him a ride. He sat behind the cab in the bed. The man stopped at a café and went inside, leaving Dominic sitting in the truck. There happened to be an axe lying in the bed, and Dominic picked it up and started brandishing it. Someone sensed that there was something going wrong in his mind and called an ambulance.
The ambulance came accompanied by a police car, but the police decided to take him themselves after Dominic succeeded in kicking out a window of the police car. He was taken to the jail and not allowed access to any of the several medications he was taking for the nine hours he was there.
Felipe Chavez and a sister visited him in his cell. He was terrified and spoke to Felipe in Spanish. He kept saying, “Van a matarme, van a matarme” (they are going to kill me) over and over again, and he was begging for help. Robbie said he had seen some photographs of him that were taken after his death, and he saw many bruises on his body, especially in the lower back and the legs.
There was a lot of evidence to the Rainbow people who got involved in the investigation that Dominic’s death was due in a great deal to these beatings. Robbie also suspected kidney failure from being taken off of his medications. The police said that he had strangled himself with the electrical cord that was on a TV. The official outcome of this investigation upheld the suicide story, and no police were punished in any way for misconduct. The insurance company settled with his parents for $7500.
Most of this was not known to us standing in the circle that second Saturday afternoon, we just knew that a Rainbow brother had died and that it hadn’t had to happen. It took the feather about 45 minutes to go around, and it was the most focused council that I had ever been at. Nobody wandered off on different subjects, and everybody, even Quetzalcoatl and Zeus, spoke directly, briefly, and respectfully. As I had seen before in the meadow in Texas where No Guns was hit by the jeep, all of the disparate energies in the anarchy that so often quarrel among themselves jelled into a focused spirit when it was confronted with a sincere crisis like this.
This circle of shared catharsis was effective in starting the gradual reconstruction of everybody’s spirit, and the rest of the day and the following Sunday were mostly a laid back time of treasuring what good feelings we still had. There was a moment on Sunday morning when I was standing at the edge of the meadow overlooking the short cliff and the stream below. The sun was warming my shoulders exposed by the tank top, and a gentle warm breeze was making the skirt of my dress caress my legs – the lovely feeling of freedom that I was going to have to put away for the winter. I was supremely happy but also sad.