Washoe Shoedown as Pershing Tensions Reach Breaking Point

The Pershing County Sheriff’s report for Burning Man 2018 paints a bleak picture. The cops can’t provide the coverage they need to because the event goes for months, not 7 days like the deal they cut in 2013.

The “liaison” person assigned by Burning Man has had to have the same legal process explained to them for 4 years in a row. The Sheriff understandably feels like they are talking to a brick wall, and are no longer going to engage with this person. Not a great sign.

Humboldt Medical, who got unceremoniously shoved out the door a couple of years ago, are now back as the vendor of choice for Burning Man’s medical needs.

Now we have the issue of Burning Man moving being re-assigned to Washoe County (where the city of Reno/Sparks is), which was just tabled at a County Commissioner’s meeting. Washoe are suggesting re-defining the boundary between Washoe and Pershing Counties so that Burning Man falls under Washoe’s jurisdiction. Effectively annexing part of Pershing County, NV for the benefit of a California corporation.

This would seem to make sense since the city of Reno have been enthusiastic about the cultural and economic benefits brought by Burners, whereas Pershing County’s nearest town of Lovelock are culturally against Burning Man and derive no benefit from the event, only costs.

Looks like there was another death this year, and plane crashes both this year and last year. Like so much of the Burning Man real news, this gets hushed up. Thanks to our source for all the information they have shared.


Pershing County Sheriff’s Office 2018 Post-Mission Synopsis

2018-PCSO-PMS-1
2018-PCSO-PMS-Appendixs-A-B-E


Some highlights:










Burning Man used to take the ice sales from Arctica (and the tips given there) and use that to support local charities in Gerlach, Lovelock and the surrounding area. This has sadly been on the decline, as “BMorg the tax free entity” has risen to the fore.

Charity:

Here’s the breakdown for 2017:

Pershing County

For 2017, Burning Man Project made donations to Pershing County organizations totaling $13,500. These organizations and groups include: Pershing County Senior Center, Eagle Scholarship, Pershing County Community Center, Pershing County High School Athletic Department, Pershing General Hospital & Nursing Care, Lovelock Animal Shelter, Lovelock Frontier Days, Lovelock Lions Club, Friends of the Library, Marzen House Museum, Kids, Horses & Rodeos, Lovelock Food Bank, Lovelock Boy Scouts Association, Lovelock Little League Association, Pershing County Arts Council, Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department and Project Graduation.

Since 2003, Burning Man has donated $468,350 to Pershing County organizations and charities.

I will be back sometime soon to bring you the 2017 Financial Analysis, based on the release of BMorg’s 2017 IRS Form 990

Sheriff Spat Escalates: “Misinformation”

The Federal tensions with the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been causing headaches for Burners, but there could be even more to come. It looks like nothing is being done to appease the Pershing County community. Quite the opposite, with Burning Man’s official statement accusing Sheriff Jerry Allen of disseminating misinformation: in other words, lying. A pissed off Sheriff is just one more problem for the lawyers, from the point of view of the Org; cops wanting to make more money off of Burning Man is a very real problem for Burners. Be careful out there: don’t give them any excuse to stop and search you.

Previous coverage:

Black Rock City – 100,000 or 50,000

Pershing County Requests 50,000 person limit at Burning Man

Sheriff Asks Org to Pony Up for More Officers

BURNILEAKS: Sexual Assaults, Missing Kids and Violent Crime

Re-blogged from the Lovelock Review Miner – emphasis and commentary ours


Burning Man disputes county comments

Debra Reid, News4Nevada

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 8:46 AM

In a rare public statement, a Burning Man spokesman questioned the accuracy of comments submitted to the BLM by Pershing County District Attorney Bryce Shields. The BLM accepted public comment as it evaluates the next ten-year Special Recreation Permit for the festival.

Roger Vind read a statement to county leaders during public comment. He asserted the county’s comments to the BLM are “inaccurate” due to “misinformation” provided by Sheriff Jerry Allen.

“It is unfortunate that misinformation propagated by the Sheriff has made its way into the County’s public comment,” Vind said. “We believe it is time for the Sheriff to be held accountable for his misstatements and mischaracterizations of our event.”

In his comments to the BLM, Shields suggested that Black Rock Rangers may have “filtered” crime reports by participants and that the BRR manual encouraged such behavior. As a result, crime reports could be less than the actual crimes committed at past Burning Man events.

“Anecdotal information from state and federal law enforcement officers suggests that the BRR encourages event participants to avoid reporting incidents to law enforcement in favor of resolving matters “in house” with the BRR’s assistance,” Shields said in comments to the BLM. “Such stories from law enforcement seem to be credible because the 2018 Black Rock Ranger (BRR) Manual contains instructions to BRRs to ‘filter’ what is reported to law enforcement.”

In his statement, Vind called it “absurd” to accuse Burning Man of stopping crime reports to law enforcement officers and that Black Rock Rangers have never been instructed to do so.

Our Black Rock Rangers in no way ‘filter’ information to law enforcement. In fact, there are 57 instances pertaining to law enforcement in the 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual and the word ‘filter’ or any other reference to keeping information from law enforcement just does not exist.”

Vind also contradicted the implication by Shields that crimes at past events, including sexual assault, had been underreported to county law enforcement officers at Burning Man.

“This serious allegation is not only untrue but is contradicted by Sheriff Allen himself.”

Vind included an email from Allen regarding the need for a better definition of sexual assault.

“I do appreciate the lengths that BRC, with your assistance, has gone through to assist us in our endeavor to provide the best public safety we can,” Allen said in the email. “I also appreciate that you are instructing your Rangers to not inquire about penetration, or start an investigation, but rather to allow for the free flow of information from the potential victim.”

Allen later said the email text was accurate but that it was “grossly taken out of context.”

“That was a discussion about Burning Man’s internal policies which the Sheriff’s Office does not make,” he said. “I think their policies and some of their definitions are far out of line with Nevada Revised Statutes but I can’t make them change their internal policies.”

Allen said that, in his experience, “there have been things that have gone unreported.”

“Some of it may not be on Burning Man,” he explained. “Some of it may the culture that they are working within, some it may be training or some of it may be lack of training. I think that, to a certain extent, there are things that are unreported or underreported. But, I also think there are things that are over-reported or wrongly or out of the wrong context.”

Citing crime statistics, Vind challenged Allen’s allegations of “high levels of crime at the event.”

“It is just not true and our statistics bear it out,” he said. “Utilizing the verified data we have from PSCO and the BLM from 2010 through 2016, the event population grew 58 percent. However, person-on-person crime only increased by two — from 10 to 12 and drug citations increased only 34 percent which is well below the population increase.”

Vind added there were 12 person-on-person crimes at the 2017 event, the same number as in 2016. He criticized Allen for not completing his After Action Report until a year after the event.

We would have had 2017 data had Sheriff Allen followed through in a timely manner with his After Action Report for the 2017 event. Unfortunately, he delivered it at the late day of July 9, 2018,” Vind said in his statement.

[this is pretty rich given that BMorg’s own 2017 Annual Report was released in July 2018, and it appears the 2017 Afterburn Report came out at the same time]. Burning Man has a 100+ person year round workforce and a $50 million budget, much more than PCSO – Ed.]

Vind responded to Shield’s concerns over weapons at the event. In one case, law enforcement discovered an assault weapon, a handgun and a large amount of ammunition at Burning Man.

“With respect to the District Attorney’s comments about our Gate screening process: In a state where ‘everybody has a gun’ (as we were told by local law enforcement), there have been only a handful of firearms at the event over the past decade,” Vind said in the statement.

Allen and other county officials have said Burning Man, where nudity and illegal drugs are common, is no place for children. Vind countered the criticism with is own.

“Sheriff Allen repeatedly advocates the event be 21 and over despite our having demonstrated the event is tremendously safe for children,” he said. “We believe parents should be the judge of what’s best for their children, not the Sheriff. The Sheriff is entitled to his opinions. However, anecdotes are not date and repeating untruths does not make them true.”

[Last year children got to watch a man killing himself by jumping in a fire. It is not “tremendously safe for children”, it is a place where by attending you voluntarily accept the risk of serious injury or even death. How could anyone say that is “tremendously safe”? The Sheriff says “drugs are common at Burning Man”, BMorg says (basically) “the only drugs were the people who got citations, as the population grows less people are doing drugs”. Repeating untruths does not make them true…YMMV – Ed.]

Vind also said Shields suggestion to cap Burning Man attendance at a maximum of 50,000 participates “does little to address the issues we face now and in the future of the event.”

Allen believes the proposed 50,000 person cap is still too much for the county and the region. It has become increasingly difficult to recruit officers from other agencies to patrol Burning Man.

“I think even at 50,000 persons, it’s too much for this county to sustain in the long haul unless some things are vastly reworked within the settlement agreement,” he said. “Unless things improve for Pershing County and Pershing County law enforcement, 10,000 people would be the max that we could sustain over a long period of time. I think 100,000 people is beyond what Nevada could handle, not just northern Nevada.”

Burning Man critic Dave Skelton agrees the festival is already too big for Pershing County and, at 100,000 people, it could be too big for the BLM.

“We’re at the point where I don’t think it can get any bigger than what it is and I don’t think its sustainable now,” he said. “The BLM has indicated over the last two years, they have as many people out there as they can get their hands on. There are other things that happen this month.”

Indians Promised “We Will Shut Down The Roads” – Now They Delivered [Updates]

Burning Man doesn’t even begin for another 5 days, but the chaos has already started.

By now you’ve probably heard that basically every single vehicle driving along the 447 near Nixon is being searched by the police, often with K-9 units.

The Reno Gazette-Journal had a story about it Burning Man Attendees Face Traffic Stops, Searches

Burning Man attendees face traffic stops, searches

Law enforcement officers from both the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe have been pulling over vehicles on their way to early Burning Man festivities in the Nevada desert. 

Bureau agents and tribal police were pulling over drivers passing through tribal land beginning last week and continuing this week. On Monday, about a half-dozen federal and tribal vehicles, some unmarked, were seen stopping vehicles primarily in Nixon, a tiny town halfway between Reno and the Burning Man site….There is one road, State Route 447, to and from the event; a large portion of that road goes through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s land

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Council in the past month approved a memorandum of understanding that detailed the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ plans to have a law enforcement presence this year on the tribal land, according to tribal officials. The BIA  initially proposed the memorandum to the tribal police, which then presented the agreement to the council.

The tribe declined to provide the document, and the BIA has not responded to repeated calls for comment. It is unclear what the duration of the agreement is, and its purpose. 

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette Journal.

This is unprecedented in Burning Man history.

The RGJ for some reason did not make the connection between this new interference from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the cultural appropriation issues that were raised at the last Burning Man and through Burners’ involvement in the Standing Rock pipeline protests (see Dear Burners, Standing Rock is not Burning Man)

It was a really big story at the time, mostly in extremely heated social media discussions.

We Will Shut Down The Roads to Burning Man – Alarm at Cultural Appropriation

The Huffington Post had a suitably fawning puff piece on it – On Cultural Appropriation and Transformation at Burning Man – which sure looks like quickly produced damage control from the BMorg propaganda PR team. Then Caveat Magister hit the BJ with “Decommodification” and “Cultural Appropriation” – two great conversations that go great together. The usual self-congratulatory “we’re saving the world” stuff we’re used to from the official Voices of Burning Man.

What is it they say…“white man speak with forked tongue”? A couple of laissez-faire stories was not enough to put out this particular fire.

These people were seriously offended. Not just “hey fuck your fake headdress at Coachella” offended. More like “You have dishonored our ancestors and our entire tribe” offended.

Screenshot 2018-08-22 12.47.40

Read the rest of the comments here.

It sure looks like they made good on their threats. It is going to take a long, long time for the 80,000+ total participants to all make it into Black Rock City, if every single vehicle is getting searched. Be prepared.

Is this another case where the hundreds of year-round staff in San Francisco failed to pay sufficient respect to the objections of the local community? It might be far out in the desert, but Burning Man isn’t an island. It needs to be a net positive for everyone.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Org try to spin this to blame the Trump Administration rather than themselves. The proof will be in the pudding when Burning Man opens: is this treatment coming from all the Feds and cops, or just on the Indian territory?


[Update 8/22/18]

Statement from Burning Man. They are wondering why this is happening. They should read Burners.Me and they would know.

https://journal.burningman.org/2018/08/news/official-announcements/statement-on-police-activity-on-the-road-to-brc/

You might be wondering why this is all happening. So are we. We think the BIA’s efforts to target our community as we prepare for our annual gathering on public lands are misguided.

While BLM law enforcement has conducted aggressive traffic enforcement in past years on Gate Road in Black Rock City, this is the first time the Burning Man event has been targeted for an operation of this magnitude on public highways. The BIA stops appear to be pretextual and not based on actual violations of law.”

Predictably, many in the comments blame Trump. Only one person was brave enough to mention cultural appropriation (or maybe I caught their post before the censors did…)

[Source: burningman.org]

The previous head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs abruptly resigned in April, for an unspecified reason – it looks like another #metoo situation. President Trump proposed a woman, Tara Sweeney, for the position, but her confirmation was held up. She took the helm last week, in near-secrecy.

The recommendation of the BIA to the Tribal Council about Burning Man happened before last Thursday, so President Trump’s appointment of a new BIA head does not explain the present situation.

Up until a week ago the acting head of BIA was Darryl LaCounte:  

The top official at the Bureau of Indian Affairs has resigned suddenly after serving just six months, and a Billings official will take over, the agency said Friday. 

The BIA confirmed to The Gazette on Friday that Bryan Rice, the agency’s director, resigned on April 24.

BIA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda informed agency employees by email Thursday, which BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling released Friday.

Darling did not give a reason for Rice’s departure. 

Darryl LaCounte, the regional BIA director based in Billings, will take over as acting BIA director.

“He is an experienced leader with vast organizational knowledge to maintain a smooth transition for our BIA employees and the tribal nations we serve,” Darling said of LaCounte in an emailed statement.

LaCounte started with the BIA in 1988 as an oil and gas specialist. He moved up through several positions in the Billings office and in 2014 became the Rocky Mountain regional director.

The exiting Rice, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, took over as director six months ago. He was previously a director of forest management for the U.S. Forest Service and a deputy director for the BIA’s Office of Trust Services.

[Source: Billings Gazette]

LaCounte is from Billings, Montana – where Republicans have won every election since 1996, and Trump won in 2016 with a 20% margin. Was LaCounte trying to make a big splash while he temporarily had the reins of power? Or was this a Machiavellian “Black Prince” situation, where someone was sent in to do the dirty work and be the “hated Prince”, only to then be replaced by the “good Prince?

 


[Update 8/23/18]

There are a bunch of threads at r/BurningMan with the latest updates on the Nixon situation.

The BJ comments had a conspiracy theory worth considering: that this is BIA revenge on the Paiute for bringing all those Burners to Standing Rock who disrespected the broader culture and caused concern amongst the LEO community:

[Source: burningman.org]