Something that BMorg are always attempting to hush up are the details of the annual arrests. It used to be reported every year in the Reno Gazette-Journal, but since they appointed dedicated Burning Man beat reporter Jenny Kane that type of coverage has stopped. We have to try to piece the information together however we can.
I filed a FOIA request in January to get the 2017 arrest data from the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, but so far they haven’t even acknowledged it. Thanks very much to our source DS who sent us the 2015, 2016, and some 2017 information below. The information we received includes the names of all people arrested in 2015 and 2017 and what they were charged with, compiled from the local paper. Don’t panic! We won’t be publishing the names. We hope to get more 2017 information soon.
The official reports confirm a shockingly large number of sexual assaults – 15 in 2015, 11 in 2016 – and way more missing children than were previously reported. The rapes, not prosecuted; the children (thankfully) all found. No wonder BMorg wanted this hushed up. Sexual offenders who fail to register are a recurring problem. Kidnapping, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, jailbreaks, and celebrities with armed bodyguards are all issues at Black Rock City. Don’t think that just because you’re “home”, that means you are safe – and don’t think for a moment that having a rule “no guns” means there are no guns there.
In fact, the Sheriff specifically states that he does not believe he can provide for the safety of Burners.
BMorg vs PCSO
This has been an ongoing battle for many years. The cops think they should get more money as the festival gets bigger and goes for longer, BMorg thinks they should keep all the money
for themselves to give to artists and make the world a better place. BMorg has big lawyers and political clout, they tell the Sheriff where to stick it, so to meet the budget required the Sheriff’s Office feels compelled to arrest and cite more Burners – to make their side of the argument stronger. “Look at all these criminals, our budget’s not big enough!”. Burners who pay $500-$1200 a ticket are thus used as pawns in an argument that people with $40 million per year of ticket money are having with local officials over 50 grand.
Pershing County normally has a population of approximately 6,800 people within the County. This population includes approximately 1,600 inmates incarcerated at the [gated community of the] Lovelock Correctional Center. For this population, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office has 13 full time Sworn Law Enforcement Deputies, including the Sheriff, to perform all of the duties statutorily mandated for the Sheriff’s Office. This equates to approximately 1 Deputy for every 400 persons permanently residing in Pershing County, minus those incarcerated.
During the approximate 10-12 days of the active portion of the Burning Man Festival, the population of just the Festival balloons to upwards of 80,000+ persons. Still with only the 13 Sworn Full-Time Deputies within the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. Based on this population, it would appear the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office would need to have approximately 200 Deputies to provide similar staffing for the visitors to the Burning Man Festival. However, Burning Man provides approximately 800+ ‘Black Rock Rangers’. These employees of Burning Man are mostly made up of volunteers, some of whom have very limited training, to interact with the population and attempt to mitigate issues before they rise to the level of a Law Enforcement Response. Some of the Rangers are trained enough to provide a force multiplication, to a limited extent, for Law Enforcement.
The Problem, In a Few Charts
2015 Report – Highlights
- 1 death before the event
- 15 sexual assaults reported
- sex offender failed to register
- 6 children went missing – all found
- incident with nude man and his nude 4 year old child at adult event
- 1 arrest for kidnapping
- celebrities bringing armed bodyguards
- an inmate tried to escape from the temporary jail
- event ran for 9 days, previous discussions were around 7
- big load on Sheriff’s office while construction/tear down happening
- year end load processing all criminal cases, court dates etc
- “the comradery [sic] which was built during this event will extend through the state” – from cops, Feds, agencies working together
- integration with Humboldt Medical Team, who were kicked out for CrowdRX
You are more likely to get a citation from the BLM than the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. The cops issued 143 citations and 175 verbal warnings. That makes 677 citations total for 2015, plus 43 arrests
2015 Sheriff’s Report:
2016 Sheriff’s Report – Highlights
The Sheriff actually says that after consulting with “entities” about Burning Man’s ability to deal with a critical incident like a mass casualty event, the results were “extremely dismal” and that he cannot in good conscience provide adequate safety to citizens attending the event.
9 people including Burning Man organization employees were arrested on the site before the event began, charged with “possessing trafficking levels of narcotics”
- 46 arrrests (43 in 2015)
- 152 citations (+326 BLM, total 478)
- sex offenders failing to register
- 11 sexual assaults reported
- 1 arrest on playa
- 2 reports after the festival, after victim returned to Reno and went to hospital for treatment – started by Reno PD
- several reports of missing or lost children – not just the single Amber Alert we were told about, that closed exodus for 8 hours
2016 Sheriff’s Report
2016 Burning Man Response
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