BURNILEAKS: Sexual Assaults, Missing Kids and Violent Crime

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.

hot girl back

Image: Steemkr


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.

Screenshot 2018-05-07 14.13.52

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

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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

 

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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

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2015 Sheriff’s Report:

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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.

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9 people including Burning Man organization employees were arrested on the site before the event began, charged with “possessing trafficking levels of narcotics”

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Other highlights

  • 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

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2016 Burning Man Response

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2017 Crime Scorecard

Crime Statistics for previous years:

2016   2015   2014   2013   2012


Thanks to Anonymous Burner who sent this in on January 1st – not a day I am usually reading much email, so it slipped through the cracks. Thank you for the reminder, and thanks to One Who Wants To Know for asking if I’d run out of things to complain about – sometimes a bit of motivation helps, particularly in these dark days of Facebook shadow-banning.

Pershing County are not the biggest fans of Burning Man, as you will see from the Lovelock Review-Miner article below. A quarter of the county’s population are incarcerated in the correctional facility, including (until just recently) OJ “The Juice” Simpson.

Most of the time, Pershing County is a safe place with a low crime rate. But in August and September, their crime rate spikes to amongst the worst in the country. Burners make the whole County look bad. Burners might think “well they should be happy to have us, we are great for the economy” but this is only true for Washoe County, where Reno is.

We used to be able to read about arrests at Burning Man in the Reno Gazette-Journal, but ever since they appointed  Jenny Kane (of Chocotaco scoop fame) as their dedicated Burning Man beat reporter, stories like this seem to get hushed up.

Pershing County smashed through all previous records with a whopping 179 arrests in August and September 2017. Other than FOIA, there is no way to tell how many were for Burners, but based on the average for the remaining months of 4.9 we can safely assume it is 97%.

2017 pershing county unified crime report

What sort of things were Burners getting up to? 1 forcible rape, 2 larceny (theft), 6 arson…the rest drugs – selling them, or possessing hard drugs. The Sheriff says they have confiscated guns from within Black Rock City and are concerned that the event organizers are not able to prevent guns coming in.

2017 pershing county crime types

Looks pretty safe for stoners, you’re more likely to get a citation than an arrest. Be careful, though: even though marijuana is legal in Nevada, Burning Man takes place on Federal land – and we all know how much Attorney General Jeff “Smoke” Sessions loves weed.

The Cannabist: Can You Bring Weed To Burning Man?

Pershing County wants more money to cover the costs, which they incur longer than just for the period the gates are open. In a case of Allen vs Allen, BMorg says “$182,221 is enough” – ie, stick it where the sun don’t shine, Sheriff!

Burning Man’s spin-meisters made the argument that the legalization of weed would lead to reduced costs for the Pershing County’s Sheriffs Office. Looks like the cops responded with a record number of arrests – almost quadruple last year’s record setting 46, which was up 600% on the year before.

Once again, BMorg tries to pinch pennies from the LEOs, and the LEOs take it out on the Burners. A familiar pattern by now in this decade-long dispute.


From the Lovelock Review Monitor, story by Debra Reid (emphasis ours):

BLM requests public input on Burning Man

Thursday, December 28, 2017 1:00 AM

Pershing County residents and other concerned citizens are reminded that January 15, 2018 is the Bureau of Land Management’s deadline for public comment on the Burning Man festival.

The BLM must gather public input as it prepares an Environmental Impact Statement on the event. The EIS is required before the agency can issue another ten year Special Recreation Permit for the festival in the spring of 2019. The current SRP expires after the 2018 festival.

Black Rock City LLC, organizer of the event, is requesting that the new SRP allow expansions beyond the current maximum of 70,000 paid participants to a maximum population from 80,000 to 100,000 people on the playa, including ticket-holders, staff, contractors and volunteers.

To accommodate the larger crowd, BRC is also asking the BLM to expand the closure area. Some of the festival’s main attractions are the burning of massive structures, including a giant wooden effigy during the climax of the event. One Burning Man participant died at the 2017 event after he broke through multiple lines of security and leaped into the conflagration.

Nudity and drugs are not uncommon, making the event controversial in a conservative, rural county. Urban areas in Washoe and Lyon County benefit economically from the event while Pershing County supplies much of the law enforcement, incarceration and other services.

The 2013 Comprehensive Festival Ordinance Waiver, Law Enforcement and Settlement Agreement between BRC and Pershing County limits BRC’s costs for county services according to event attendance and integrated versus separate law enforcement command.

The ten-year agreement has become an ongoing source of contention between county law enforcement and festival officials. Even as the festival expands in 2019 and beyond, law enforcement payments to the county are restricted until the agreement expires in 2023.

Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen contends that the festival requires year-round attention and much more than eight days of county law enforcement services due to accidents and crime that occur during the weeks of set up, tear down and clean up before and after the event.

BRC officials respond that law enforcement activities outside the eight day festival are not included in the settlement agreement and are part of the normal costs of county government.

BRC has refused to pay an invoice for $39,959.20 submitted to the county by Sheriff Allen for county law enforcement costs due to activities before and after the 2016 Burning Man event. BRC General Counsel Raymond Allen argued that those expenses were covered in a total payment to the county of $243,964.92, per the settlement agreement.

“The decision to allocate $182,221.83 to the Sheriff out of the total amount that BRC paid to the County in 2016 was an exercise of the County’s sole and absolute discretion under Section 4.1 of the Agreement and was presumably based on what the Commissioners determined to be the cost of supplying ‘reasonable law enforcement services needed’ for the 2016 event,” Ray Allen stated in a letter to the county. “If the Sheriff’s Office disagreed with the Commission and decided to spend more than the amount that was allocated by the Commission, that decision had no effect whatsoever on BRC’s payment obligations under the Agreement.”

Sheriff Allen and other county law enforcement officials say they have confiscated guns inside the festival and question the ability of BRC’s gatekeepers to keep weapons out of the event.

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada, that should reduce citations issued at the event, Burning Man Political Affairs Manager Marnee Benson said in a letter to the county.

In 2016, 62 of the 152 PCSO citations issued in connection with the Burning Man event were for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana,” Benson stated in a February 1, 2017 letter.

“That is to say, 41 percent of Pershing’s citations were issued for conduct that is now legal in Nevada. We expect this will free up a significant amount of time and budget for PCSO in 2017.” [the arrest statistics for 2017 indicate otherwise – Ed.]

In his written comments on the event submitted to the BLM, Lovelock resident David Skelton said if Burning Man expands, it will be an increasing burden on Pershing County taxpayers.

As Burning Man provides no economic benefit to Pershing County, to the contrary, if Burning Man left Pershing County and went elsewhere, there would then be an economic benefit, due to cost reduction,” Skelton said. “There are multiple locations the event can be held on either public or private lands outside of Pershing County.”

Written comments on the Burning Man SRP should be emailed by Jan. 15, 2018 to blm_nv_burningmaneis@blm.gov or mailed to the following address:

Attention: Burning Man Event SRP EIS

BLM Winnemucca District Office, 5100 E. Winnemucca Blvd., Winnemucca, NV 89445.

Local Sheriff Overwhelmed By Burner Arrests

Because the Sheriff arrests people related to Burning Man before the event and after the event, he is sending a bigger bill to BMorg. He’s “not sure” if last year’s bill was even paid by the $40 million festival.


Re-blogged from News4Nevada:

 

 

Debra Reid, News4Nevada

Wednesday, October 04, 2017 1:00 AM

Vito Schnabel

 

Celebrity arrests among difficulties of managing Burning Man

The arrest of a celebrity’s ex-boyfriend at Burning Man drew inquiries from the tabloid press at the sheriff’s office last week. The calls indicated how time-consuming the world-famous festival can be.

Other duties had to wait as Sheriff Jerry Allen and Undersheriff Tom Bjerke researched the case and issued a press release on burner Vito Schnabel who had been in custody for alleged drug possession.

It wasn’t the first time the sheriff’s office has been barraged with media calls about Burning Man.

“This has happened before – when the man died in the fire this year, when the model from Hong Kong was arrested in 2015, when the participant was run over this year,” Allen said. “There are times when my office gets overwhelmed with calls for information regarding events at Burning Man.”

The total criminal statistics for this year’s event have not been released as crime reports are still coming in from an event that ended a month ago. The After Action Report anticipated by county officials, festival organizers and the media could be ready next month, Allen said. With two vacancies for sheriff’s deputies to be filled, he has little time for the paperwork right now.

“We haven’t condensed all that information yet. We’re still processing crime reports and getting more information together,” he said. “I’m hoping to have the report by the end of next month. That’s if I can get my staffing up and get myself away from the deputy’s job and back to doing my own job.”

A settlement agreement limits Burning Man’s payments for law enforcement and other county services according to the number of festival participants. Last year, however, Allen said he billed organizers about $40,000 for law enforcement services on the playa outside the event’s eight-day schedule.

Allen wasn’t certain if the bill had been paid but event organizers can expect another one for 2017.

“This year, we’re going to be over budget again because we’ve taken enforcement action before the event and after the event,” Allen said. “I will submit (a bill) for those calls pursuant to the event.”

2016 Crime Scorecard: New Record for Arrests, Attempted Murder

 

Image: Buzzfeed

Image: Buzzfeed

Jenny Kane at the Reno Gazette-Journal brings us news of this year’s arrests by the Pershing County Sheriff’s office.

The highlights:

  • 46 arrests (up 12.2% from 41 last year) – this is 6 times the number of arrests in 2014
  • 37 drug-related – marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and acid (in that order)
  • 1 attempted murder (second degree)
  • 1 battery with a deadly weapon

Yes, yes, I know…there are no weapons at Burning Man.

quote-when-guns-are-outlawed-only-the-government-will-have-guns-the-government-and-a-few-outlaws-edward-abbey-46-84-66

This is the highest number of arrests ever at Burning Man. Two thirds of those arrested were Californians. International Burners from Spain, Italy, and Mexico were locked up.

Some of the drug arrests were for possession, some were for trafficking.  No information has been released on how many citations for drug possession were issued in lieu of arrests; last year there were more than 600.

Jenny’s report gave credence to the theory I’ve been hearing privately from some various sources, that the White Ocean sabotage attack was a hoax. Nobody ever released any photos, and now we find out that there was not actually a police report filed as White Ocean had claimed.

Without an official report, which the camp leads never made, Allen could not investigate the criminal ransacking.

“It is important to remember that there must be a victim or an outcry from someone for us to initiate an investigation into possible criminal activity, otherwise it would be considered an unlawful or unconstitutional intrusion by an agent of the government,” Allen said.

Here’s the original White Ocean post:

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There was a report on Facebook that a grown man was caught trying to kidnap a 10 year-old girl boy.

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The Sheriff did not mention that, and did not answer questions about the other False Amber Alert that Imprisoned Thousands:

Neither the sheriffs nor the BLM had anything to say about the three-hour shutdown of the only road out of Black Rock City when a 17-year-old girl went missing during exodus. Exodus is the peak exit period of Burners at the end of the week of Burning Man. Officials located the girl safe within the city perimeter.

The BLM did not make any arrests last year, and won’t say if they did this year.

Read the full story at the RGJ

The cops were a lot more relaxed back in 2014

The cops were a lot more relaxed back in 2014 (in the Distrikt DJ booth)

 

Hooligans Attack! White Ocean Sabotaged, Camp Collapses

2016 white ocean lineup

It seems the Occupy Burning Man Class War long promoted on eplaya.burningman.com (while being simultaneously dismissed as irrelevant at the BJ) has finally come to fruition.

White Ocean was sabotaged by hooligans, who trashed their camp and glued doors shut on their trailers. Rather than sympathy from the Org, they were told they deserved it.

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Some Burners might laugh at this, thinking it’s a throwback to the glory hole days of the Cacophony Society, but it’s not cool. This is way more than a prank. Pranks should be funny. Like this:

zos billboard

It goes against the whole point of Burning Man, which is radical inclusion. The vandals are MOOPing all over the Playa, “in the name of the Ten Principles!” What dicks. Not to mention that it might not be the smartest thing to mess with these people.

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?

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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.

We can safely assume, however, that Paris Hilton was not one of the injured as she was still Instagraming away as of yesterday.

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.

[Source]

Meanwhile, back in SF, the Chronicle reports that the 3% drop in city population due to Burning Man has been quickly filled up with tourists. Probably taking advantage of the glut of week-long AirBnB rentals.