In a most sad manner, Lonnie Richey died in the traffic accident near to Gerlach that halted Burning Man traffic for six hours. His two teen age children are heart broken over the death of their father. He was returning from his twelve hour, overnight, double shift opening the Burning Man event.
Empathy is a very important human emotion. Empathy is not within the Ten Principles of Burning Man, but empathy is necessary for community to exist. In the place of memorializing the life of Lonnie Harris, whom died in due of assisting Burners traveling to the burn, the BMOrg has been silent in regards to his death, and their rubbish social media crew is halting any discussions upon this matter. My belief is the BMOrg instructed workers, and volunteers, to not discuss his death, desiring to prevent Burners, and his family, from learning what occurred in regards of his death.
The BMOrg website states of the ghost of Larry Harvey continues as Philosophic Director. As is most apparent in regards of their actions upon the death of Lonnie Richey, they are following Larry’s philosophic direction, of in 1996, when Michael Fury was near to decapitated in a motorcycle crash on the playa, Larry was most concerned with, and yelling, numerous times, that his death did not occur at Burning Man. My belief is empathy is most important, empathy is necessary for community to exist.
This behaviour, by the BMOrg, towards Burning Man workers, and volunteers, is not new. In Salon, Exclusive: Burning Man, a utopia for guests, can be a hell for many workers, Black Rock Ranger Kelli Hoversten bravely describes her experience with the BMOrg, after she was blinded by a laser at the Man burn within 2014. Might the BMOrg be repeating their behaviour in regards to the death of Lonnie Richey?
Nevada state law also requires that when an injured worker receives workers’ compensation, he or she cannot sue the employer. Hoversten connected with an executive claims consultant, as directed by Burning Man, who told her to file her claim in Missouri because that is was her permanent residence, advice she now says was legally incorrect. She says she was never told that there was a 90-day filing period in Nevada. By the time she figured that out, it was too late to file a claim. “If I would have filed in Nevada, my case would have been much stronger,” she said. “When Burning Man [tells] you that they are helping you with workers’ comp, they are not.”
Six months after the accident, Hoversten’s medical bills were piling up. In March 2015, one of her friends set up a GoFundMe to try to help her cope with the cost. At that point, Burning Man management finally took notice and offered her a $10,000 anonymous donation, attached to a nondisclosure agreement. A standard life insurance policy will generally pay $250,000 to someone who is rendered legally blind in both eyes on the job. Hoversten had two weeks to accept the offer, which she says turned into two weeks of harassment by an employee in the human resources department. She did not accept the offer.
My belief is the Burner community, artists, volunteers, and the Burning Man event, are awesome. I am in agreement with the statements, within the article, of,
“I still believe in the [Burning Man] community and the service of the volunteers as a community,” she said, adding that there is a disconnect between upper management and those who run the festival — a gulf that appears to be widening and might hurt the festival in the long run. “If they don’t start caring about their volunteers and treating their volunteers like we are human beings and have worth…”, and of
Hoversten is not the only one who still finds value in the Burning Man community. Bond, who worked at Center Camp said she wants it to be “wonderful and beautiful again,” but that would require changes in upper management. “How do you get people to not abuse their power?” Bond asked. “It feels like there needs to be a shift in the alignment of their moral fibers.”
There are numerous queries that the BMOrg has hidden in regards of the death of Lonnie Richey. Might anyone, other than the rubbish BMOrg social media crew, know the details in regards of his employment, directions, or death, might you leave a comment, purposed to assist his children? My belief is the guardians of Lonnie Richey’s children are most in need of gaining good workers compensation legal advice, purposed to assist his heart broken children in their lives.
More than 600 volunteers and staff ringed the perimeter of the Temple, backed up by a hastily installed metal security fence. The fence and additional security were new conditions sought by the federal land manager, said Burning Man co-founder Crimson Rose.
…Rose said federal Bureau of Land Management officials wanted Burning Man to call off the Temple burn, the ceremonial finish to the weeklong festival of 70,000 people in the Nevada desert. She said the government wanted 350 extra security guards. Burning Man found nearly double that number.
“We are showing the government we can step forward,” Rose said as she joined with other perimeter guards. “It is a testament to our spirit. We have a ritual to complete”
Saturday of Burning Man, everyone in our group was pretty fed up with the desert and ready to be home with our families and pets. Then we went to the burn. We spun conclave in the middle of the great circle, looking out at the sea of people and art cars with their neon lights and bumping music. It was a rush unlike any other. Afterward we settled in to watch The Man go up in flames. We cheered as the biggest effigy to date produced an impressive fire works show and serious explosions. Laughing and joking, all of us talked about how we had earlier been ready to leave but after performing and watching The Man burn, maybe we ought to discuss coming next year after all. Then suddenly people were yelling. A man was barreling through the crowd right toward our fire group. Nick was on his feet and running after the guy, the perimeter people called at him to sit down so he pulled a baseball slide and tried to trip the runner, barely missing. The guy darted at the perimeter, a relatively tall man looking very in shape, he dodged the sandmen rushing him with incredible speed and agility. He was determined and bigger and faster than anyone chasing him. As he bolted to the fire, I kept thinking he wasn’t really going to make it. No way. But then he was running into the fire, the sandmen couldn’t follow him any more. The fire was hot as hell from where we were sitting so I can’t imagine being that close to it. He ran back out of the fire, circled back a bit and ran right into the middle and laid down (or tripped backward maybe). None of the firemen could go after him until a piece of the effigy fell, then they rushed into the fire and pulled him out and loaded him into an ambulance. I can’t even describe the emotions. I was crying, gasping for breath, saying “Oh my god, please no” over and over again, feeling a panic attack clenching my throat in a steel grip. We didn’t want to look but we couldn’t stop watching. I saw my friends crying as well, shoulders shaking, hands covering their faces, partners trying to comfort their loved ones while barely keep it together themselves. I couldn’t take it anymore. We asked the perimeter guards if we could leave and they graciously let us stand up and rush away. Nobody got to run around the fire that night. Instead we muscled our way through the crowd, sometimes hearing people ask if someone had run through the fire as we rushed out sobbing. Most people were too far back to know what happened and were partying and having the time of their lives. It was so disturbing to have just witnessed someone lay down in a massive fire then leave to see that the world went on like nothing had happened. Once back at camp, we had lengthy discussions about the happening. We wondered what the guy had taken, he was obviously neck deep in some sort of intense psychedelic experience. We wondered if he was already suicidal and chose that moment to end his human contract or if he was just so fucked up that he actually thought he could do it and live, driven by feelings of godliness. There was a lot of anger. If the man was suicidal, why did he have to do that to us? Was it necessary to imprint that horrifying scene into our minds for our entire lives? We expressed how lucky we were to have our tribe, to be confident that if one of us ever reached that point we would for sure wrestle the person to the cops or a med station even if it meant clubbing then upside the head and tying them up. Because really, who the fuck are this guy’s friends? Then there is the perimeter itself. It’s weak. The sandmen are spaced too far apart and aren’t big enough and strong enough to take on all types of potential runners. I know burners are about handling business themselves but damn, hire a trained security team of big beef cake meatheads in top notch health. It has happened before, multiple people run every year, some have even made it. And what about telling the crowd not to help? I get it to some extent, but several people in our group could have tackled that guy and restrained him until help arrived momentarily. Or at least slowed him enough for the sandmen to get into position to catch him. Maybe we are somewhat in the wrong for not trying anyway. A man’s life was on the line and everyone followed orders instead of doing the right thing. Why were the sandmen chasing him in circles instead of blocking the fire and creating a barrier? By doing that, they left the fire wide open for him to run into. This man tried THREE times to break perimeter. Three. Why aren’t people who do that escorted to safety and monitored and maybe even banned from burns in general? Now I am not blaming any one person directly. Someone that sets that sort of intention and makes such a decision is clearly at fault for the consequences of their actions. However, could the safety precautions being modified and strengthened? Ab-so-fucking-lutely. And they should be. Not only for the mentally unstable runners, but for the sake of the thousands of witnesses who are traumatized by such an event. Nobody go burnier than thou on me and defend Burning Man, especially if you didn’t see what we were forced to see. These sorts of events bring an already misunderstood event like Burning Man under the microscope scrutiny of police and government organizations who already disagree with people who live as freely as burners do together. What could possibly be more important than protecting the sacred oasis that is Burning Man and regionals, the only places that so many of us feel safe being who we truly are? I’m trying to sort through this. I don’t want to be dwelling on this and circling around it, talking about it, reading articles and looking at pictures of the guy of Aaron Mitchell and wondering what he was like and what made him snap but I am and it just won’t stop. I saw some of the most amazing art in the world, danced at incredible sound stages with fire sculptures breathing flames and towering speaker stacks throwing bass across the the playa. I got to see what can happen when creative people want to build something amazing to uplift those in their burn community, when people just want to make others happy and taken care of while encouraging them to become more self reliant. The Ten Principles really are the guidelines for building a truly free and sustainable community, I really believe that. I am in awe always over the potential and motivation of true burners. But…just to the forefront of all that wonder and magic is Aaron Mitchell, laying down in unfathomably hot blaze, the man who probably just took too strong of drugs and thought he could survive fire, the stranger who died and left a scar on our hearts forever. Honestly, that is burn life. It won’t always be fun, sometimes it’s incredibly hard and you’re forced to evaluate parts of the human experience that aren’t comfortable and it happens in between the moments of love and elation and connection that we all crave. I’m learning from this, I’m growing as a person and am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to be alive and deeply loved. Thanks for reading. Hug your loved ones. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it out. If you think someone needs help, reach out and offer them some. I will abuse the cliche again and say that we truly have to be the change we wish to see in the world.
There’s video. WARNING. This is intense. The Man had burned but the Temple of The Man was still standing.
[Update 9/12/17 11:26am PST]
A lot of censorship is being generated around this post. Thomson-Reuters gave me a takedown request for the photos, which we complied with, but that wasn’t good enough. They also objected to the screenshot of the Drudge Report headlines which incorporated one of their images. How far does this go: embedding a YouTube video, which may contain some of their photos? Linking to a Facebook discussion where somebody else posted the photos? At what point does non-profit, educational Fair Use become a consideration to MainStream Media #fakenews conglomerates? Remember, these are the people who brought us the 9/11 conspiracy and WMDs in Iraq, while profiting enormously. One wonders why free blog sites about Burning Man are so important to them.
We have shown already some of the Org’s attempts to shut down any discussion of this incident on social media, which has been backed by what appears to be co-ordinated troll attacks. Looks like there is an effort to take down all the related videos too. It would be nice to think they were doing this to prevent copycats and further sacrifices, but I suspect there are other motivations at work.
About 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the man broke through safety perimeters at the Northern Nevada festival and ran straight into a fire, Burning Man officials said in a statement. Black Rock City firefighters entered the flames to rescue the festival-goer.
The man was treated on the scene before being transported to an on-site medical facility, officials said. He was later airlifted to a burn treatment center…
The man’s condition as of Sunday morning was unknown.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. Saturday evening, a male participant at the annual Burning Man event in Northern Nevada broke through a safety perimeter and ran into a fire. Black Rock City fire personnel rescued him from the fire.
The individual was treated on scene, transported to the on-site medical facility and airlifted to a burn treatment center.
We will share more information as it becomes available.
One of the Honorarium art installations this year was “The Pyramid of the Dead” dedicated to celebrating death: “Death is a part of life as much as life is a part of Death, and we invite you to celebrate this relationship with us”
A couple of days ago RT ran a story “Beware of Fire: Deaths at Burning Man”. There seem to be far more deaths at this event than any other festival, including much larger ones. Of course, it’s just a coincidence that it’s an occult ritual burning a wooden effigy inside a pentagram celebrating death and rebirth, surrounded by Pyramids and Temples for the Dead, lit from a fire kept burning in a magic soul-cooking cauldron called El Diabla. There are many other large scale public occult rituals that go on without such deaths…oh wait. Sorry, my mistake. There are no other such rituals.
[Images from YourEDM removed at the request of Thomson Reuters]
[Update 3/9/17 5:44pm PST]
Some links to counseling information from BMorg. Many Burners are seriously traumatized about witnessing such an horrific event during the peak moment of the party:
Emotional support teams have been made available to participants and staff. For people on playa, the Zendo Project is providing peer counseling at their space at 5:15 & A. Support staff from our Emergency Services Department’s Crisis Intervention Team are stationed at 3:00 & C, 9:00 & C, and 5:30 & Esplanade. Please seek them out.
If you are not on playa and are feeling the need to talk to someone, don’t wait. You can reach 24/7 crisis and suicide hotlines at 1-800-273-8255 or 775-784-8090. You can also text LISTEN to 839863.
Now is a time for closeness, contact and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep. We have found this article helpful for understanding how trauma affects us: “A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma”.
Update 4:45 p.m. Sunday: The mother of Aaron Joel Mitchell confirmed that her son was the man who died after running into flames at Burning Man on Saturday night…
Joel grew up in McAlester, Oklahoma but was living in Switzerland.
“He’s 41, but they are always your baby,” said Johnnye Mitchell. “He was loving and a nice person…Joel liked hiking and outdoors, running.”
Mitchell said she saw her son on Aug. 1 before he headed to Oregon to go to an Eclipse festival. She knew he was planning to go to Burning Man with friends and it was his first time to the annual festival.
She said he is married but does not have any children. His wife is from Switzerland. He was working in construction.
“He was in great spirits when we saw him…We are just in shock, total shock,” she said. “We can’t believe this happened.”
…The Burning Man organization canceled scheduled burns through noon Sunday but will proceed with the scheduled Temple burn at 8 p.m.
There is an investigation into his death. So far it is not known where he was camping.
[Update 9/3/17 7:44pm PST]
The RGJ has some further details from the Sheriff:
The Pershing County Sheriff said Sunday night that the initial rescue efforts were hampered due to a portion of “the Man” falling at the time rescuers were attempting to retrieve Mitchell from the debris.
“Rescuers had to leave him to allow the structure to fall and provide for rescuer safety before they could go back into the flames to extract Aaron from the debris,”…
It remains unclear whether Mitchell was trying to run into the fire or tripped and fell into it while trying to avoid security staff…
One safety ranger who witnessed the incident teared up as she told her campmates early Sunday morning how she tried but failed to stop the man.
Rangers who work the event are told in advance to look out for three kinds of people likely to rush toward the fire: people trying to get attention, people who are on drugs or intoxicated and don’t understand the danger, and the suicidal.
White Ocean put on a huge stage, bring some of the best musical talent in the world, give it away for free – so they deserve to be punished by Burnier-Than-Thous? For what, not gifting enough? Having people in their camp from other countries? First Camp is where people should be protesting.
The result of this attack is more likely to be “raise prices further so poor people can’t come”, rather than “all the rich people will now leave”. Camps will now be forced to have security staff, velvet ropes, members-only areas, all the things the vandals presumably hate. Generators will be closely guarded, strangers will be looked at with suspicion.
Sadly, this is symptomatic of the huge rift in the community caused by the BMorg 2.0 attitude, as exemplified by the “Man upside down” theme of this year. The message from Larry Harvey on the official Burning Man blog is that art comes from rich people sponsoring poor artists, instead of a communal effort by all of us where anyone can be an artist so everybody’s got to try.
These days, some people have $190 tickets and others have $1300 tickets. Burners don’t think “that’s so awesome that they paid more for tickets, they’re funding art” – because the extra money quite clearly is not funding more art. Instead many think “most of my friends couldn’t get tickets and these sparkle ponies don’t even care about our values or appreciate how lucky they are to be here”.
Instead of Da Vinci tickets funding more art, the annual Art Grants budget was adjusted to include the Man, Man base, and Temple, as well as grants to Burner artists. Of course, all the same old names who’ve been getting grants for decades get rewarded each year, whether they need the money or not.
What about Vehicle Passes? Did this money go to art? Vehicles? To making Burning Man or the world a better place? Or did it go to flying the 100+ full time, year-round Org staff around the world to a bunch of festivals on recon for Fest300 while courting wealthy patrons to finance off-Playa real estate deals?
When vehicle passes came out, we were told it was for the environment and improving local roads. Were the roads any better this year? All we have heard about is Police stings at the Gerlach crosswalk.
Perhaps related to this attack, or perhaps a total coincidence, but a structure in an unnamed camp collapsed, injuring 6 people. 1 had to be airlifted out, BMOrg aren’t saying where. From SFist:
A Burning Man theme camp collapsed earlier this week, injuring six and requiring that one festival attendee be airlifted out of the desert for medical treatment. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that this all went down Monday, and that festival organizers are keeping a tight lid on the details.
According to the paper, the structure was part of a theme camp — not one of the giant art projects that cover the Playa — but officials are not saying at this time which camp. Five of the injured six, whose names have not been released, were treated by medical personnel onsite and one needed x-rays from medical contractor CrowdRx. The sixth was sent elsewhere for treatment, although Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham did not confirm to the paper to where or for what injuries.
The 70,000-person festival is no stranger to accidents, and has serious medical care facilities on site as a safety measure. And while most years are free of accidental deaths, it was just two years ago that a woman died after she was tragically run over by a bus.
The collapsed structure was officially closed off Tuesday morning, and we assume the five injured and released attendees are, at present, dancing to some deep house.