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.”

Pershing County Requests 50,000 Person Limit at Burning Man

reblogged from the Lovelock Review-Miner , story by Debra Reid News4Nevada

See also our coverage of the most recent Pershing County Sheriff’s report.

Ticket prices would skyrocket, the crowd would become ultra-elite, more sherpas, more MOOP…on the plus side, the queue for the Port-a-Loo would be shorter. Maybe it becomes “2 Burning Mans” like Coachella, with everybody going to Flysalen in between to chill at the hot springs…their permit reserves the area for them for much longer than the week 9-day long event. The area reserved is also much, much larger than the pentagon shaped trash fence that encloses Black Rock City.


County requests 50,000-person limit at Burning Man

Black Rock Rangers told to “filter” crime reports to law officers

Debra Reid, News4Nevada

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 12:00 AM

lovelock review-miner logoIn a letter last week to the Bureau of Land Management Winnemucca District, Pershing County District Attorney Bryce Shields recommended the BLM limit the total attendance at Burning Man to 50,000 people including ticket-holders, staff, volunteers, contractors and government officials.

The comment letter was submitted by Shields on behalf of the Pershing County Commission and the Pershing County District Attorney’s Office. The deadline for public comment on the BLM’s Burning Man Special Recreation Permit/Environmental Impact Statement was Friday.

The BLM is analyzing impacts of the event that is now allowed up to 70,000 ticket-holders plus paid and volunteer non-ticket holders who work the event. Burning Man organizers have applied for a Special Recreation Permit for the next 10 years and have requested the BLM allow them to sell more tickets meaning the total event attendance could eventually reach 100,000 people.

In his comment letter, Shields pointed out that, at its current size, the festival is already a serious drain on local resources including law enforcement, the jail, courts, roads and administrative services in Pershing County and beyond. He questioned if even the BLM could provide enough rangers to control the impacts of 100,000 participants and employees on public land resources.

“In terms of increasing the event’s size, it is doubtful that the Burning Man event can grow to 100,000 participants without increasing the number of federal and state law enforcement officers,” Shields states in the letter. “To ensure the safety of participants and law enforcement personnel, the Draft EIS should analyze the appropriate levels of staffing for federal and state law enforcement and the associated financial

burden to these agencies. As a practical matter, the analysis should include whether the Department of Interior is capable of staffing enough BLM Rangers at the event should it increase to 100,000 participants.”

Shields suggested the BLM also evaluate whether enough officers can be recruited from within the state by the Pershing County Sheriff Office to maintain public safety at the event if Burning Man continues to grow. Sheriff Jerry Allen has said that he and his staff have difficulty locating enough available law enforcement officers willing and able to help local deputies with the event.

Increased attendance means more crime and more demands on all of the county’s limited resources, Shields said. Each crime report must be investigated, evidence must be collected, suspects must be housed at the county jail and be given due process in court. An eight-day event soon turns into year-round work for law enforcement, county courts and administration.

“The volume of crimes (hundreds of misdemeanors and dozens of felonies) coupled with the impermanent infrastructure, short duration of the event, and transitory nature of most of the state law enforcement officers, renders report writing, record keeping and evidence intake a monumental task. This process strains law enforcement and prosecution resources for months after the event,” Shields states in the letter.

Shields said criminal activities at the festival may have not been reported to law enforcement officers at the request of Burning Man’s own security staff known as the Black Rock Rangers.

“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 states in the letter. “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.”

According to Shields, the Black Rock Ranger Manual also contains a “legally inadequate definition” of “consent” for encounters such as sexual encounters.

“This woeful advice to the BRR suggests the ugly possibility that crimes at the event, including sexual assault, have been under reported to law enforcement officers in previous years,” he states in the comment letter. “In light of the possibility that crimes have gone unreported to law enforcement, the Draft EIS should evaluate what measures can be taken to ensure that crimes are accurately reported to law enforcement.”

Shields recommended the BLM investigate the screening process conducted by festival staff at the gates to the event. Gatekeepers search vehicles for people without tickets as well as illegal drugs and weapons but such contraband has been found by law enforcement inside the event.

“Is the current screening process adequate to prevent prohibited items (drugs, firearms, glitter, confetti, etc…) from entering the event?” Shields asks the BLM. “To say nothing of the copious amounts of controlled substances at the event, within the last two or three years, law enforcement officers have located firearms at the event. In one egregious case, officers discovered one AR-15 and one 9 mm handgun, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition for those weapons. In an effort to better protect participants, a more thorough screening process of vehicles and individuals should occur prior to entry.”

Shields questioned if there are adequate restrictions on minors inside the event where “adult” events occur. Rather than imposing a minimum age limit on the event, as county officials have suggested, the BLM has allowed parents to decide if their children should attend the event.

“Please include within the Draft EIS a study concerning Black Rock City’s zoning efforts in that regard,” he said in the letter. “How is the zoning enforced? How does Burning Man or the BLM ensure that minors at the event are there with the permission of their parents or guardians?”

As well as the event’s negative effects on county roads, a lesser known impact is on nearby public land users. In the letter, Shields said some of those people have had trouble accessing their private land, grazing allotments and other areas due to Burning Man roadblocks.

“Many ranchers and property owners near the Burning Man Event have expressed concerns that proposed road closures will deprive them of access to areas essential to their day-to-day business operations,” he states in the letter. “These individuals also report that, in previous years, when they have driven in close proximity to the borders of the event, they have been “hassled” by Black Rock Rangers and followed.”

Shields suggested that Burning Man or the BLM issue “visible vehicle placards” for those landowners, ranchers and other public land users who need access to areas near the event.

A lower attendance level would limit the overall impacts of Burning Man according to Shields.

“With these considerations in mind, we request that the BLM analyze the alternative of capping the event at 50,000 persons,” he wrote. “This number, of course, encompasses all attendees, including paid participants, volunteers, service providers, vendors, contractors and government personnel.”