Burning Man 2015 By The Numbers Part 2 – Census Highlights

random number dilbert

Along with the 2015 Afterburn report, BMOrg released the results of their 2015 Census. I’ve had a chance now to go through this in a bit more detail. Some highlights:

There are a lot of dudes (60%) and it’s pretty gay (1/3rd LGBT) and pretty white (86%).
The minorities at Burning Man these days are double digit Burners (just over 5%).

“40% Virgins” is still about right, which is really still about 68.9% newbies, as only 31.1% of Burners had been to Burning Man more than twice prior to 2015 – our previous definition for Veterans. It’s up slightly from 28% the previous year, it is remarkable how these virgin and veteran percentages remain about the same, year after year. Coincidence? Random chance? Or the result of Burner profiles, ticket lotteries, and all the other socially engineered ticketing hoops Burners are forced to jump through?

 

Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.47.07Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.47.47
Screenshot 2016-02-20 17.02.52
20% of Burners are aliens, about a third of those from the biggest country, Canada
Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.49.15
Scalpers are not a problem, and STEP is not very useful.
Screenshot 2016-02-20 17.19.21
Burners are very affluent. 44.1% have an average household income of US$100,000 or more.
Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.55.22
About 7% of Burners are in the 1% – and we even have some in the 1% of 1% of 1% of 1%, the 62 people with as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the planet combined.
We’re smart, too. 77% have a college degree, 6.1% of Burners have a  degree in healing or beauty
Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.53.34
Despite the vehicle pass scheme, 10% of Burners still arrived alone. A third used a plane in their journey to Black Rock City.
Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.57.18
Although 17.9% arrived in an RV, 26.2% ended up staying in one.
Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.59.20
Only a third of those RVs got pumped – incredibly disappointing, given the amount of money being spent across Black Rock City on site services – and BMOrg’s intervention to make it hard for camps to make their own deals with vendors of their choice.
35.9% had access to some form of renewable energy – iPhone charging, perhaps?

69.7% of Burners were connected to electricity from generators – not exactly “off grid living”.

It is, however, a great place to go to get away from conventional forms of religion. Only 5.4% of Burners identify as religious.
Screenshot 2016-02-20 17.04.17
How many of those are Satanists is unknown, but let’s call it 5%: 3.2% of Burners worship “other” and 1.2% are Pagans.
Screenshot 2016-02-20 17.05.58
Download the full Census from their new home within the borg. Here are the team credits, thanks to everyone who participated:

Principal investigators and project coordinators: S. Megan Heller (Countess), Dana Lilienthal DeVaul (DV8), Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost (Hunter), and Kateri McRae (Variance)

Data analysis: Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost (Hunter), David Nelson-Gal (Scribble)

Report coordination, graphics, layout & design: Rebecca Mason (B^2), Aaron Shev (Murse), Dana Lilienthal DeVaul (DV8), David Nelson-Gal (Scribble), Jason Lankow, & John Nicholson

The 2015 Census Lab: The project also involved more than 150 volunteers whose contributions were essential in many ways: research collaborators, volunteer coordinators, statisticians, camp builders, gate samplers, keypunchers, census lab hosts, graphic designers, and many more. These contributors will globally be referred to as “the Census Lab”. We would also like to thank the Burning Man organization for the resources that they provided both on playa and off playa and for believing in the project.

2015 Crime Scorecard: Arrests Increased 600% [Update]

Image: Simon Pearce | Flickr (Creative Commons)

Cops at Burning Man, 2012. Image: Simon Pearce | Flickr (Creative Commons)

New Sheriff Jerry Allen was reportedly going to crack down on crime at Burning Man this year. When the story hit the media, he quickly back-pedalled, saying “I have no intention of being heavy-handed” and there is no crackdown, I was misquoted .

Well, it sure looks like a crackdown to me, with the highest number of arrests ever reported at Burning Man – and a still unknown number of citations. The supposedly underfunded Pershing County Sheriff’s Office managed to arrest 41 people, about 6 times as many as last year – and about as many as the previous 5 years combined. They also issued more than 600 citations, another record.

From the New York Times:

Scores of law enforcement officers meted out more than 600 citations and arrested dozens of people — nearly all of them for possession of controlled substances, like the hallucinogenic drugs that can make frolicking in scanty costumes in the desert seem like a kaleidoscopic adventure.

In other words, the party may have ended, but for the local courts, lawyers and busted participants, the headache begins…More than 40 of the revelers, known as Burners, were arrested, according to the sheriff’s office of Pershing County, the rural pocket of northwest Nevada where the festival takes place. The citation fines range from $100 to $500, said Rudy Evenson, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that shares policing responsibilities for the event with the sheriff’s office. Misdeeds ranged from environmental ones, like improper dumping, to drug use and possession.

[Source: NYT]

Crimes this year included 25 counts of drug trafficking, and 1 each of kidnapping and failing to register as a sex offender. Significantly, there were no sexual assaults reported – a huge improvement on 2013, when there were 12 people taken to jail for that crime.

For the first time we get some 2014 numbers too. The 2015 and 2014 data here has mostly come from the Reno Gazette Journal, quoting emails from the Sheriff. If anyone else has any more information, please share.

2015 Arrest Statistics

from Pershing County Sheriff’s Office

Population Size (estimated):

70,000 paid participants

9,000 workers

Total Population: 79,000

Total Cops: 192 – (150 BLM; 34 PCSO; 8 Washoe)

Total Arrests: 41

 

 

  • Trafficking of a controlled substance: 19
  • Possession of a controlled substance for sales: 6
  • Trespassing: 3
  • Warrant for failure to appear: 3
  • Possession of a prescription medication without a script: 2
  • Battery: 2
  • Unregistered sex offender: 1
  • Driving under the influence with accident: 1
  • Assault with a deadly weapon: 1
  • Battery on a public officer: 1
  • Kidnap: 1
  • Grand larceny: 1

Total Incidents: Unknown

Total Citations: 600+


2015 Traffic citations

(from Highway Patrol, Northern Nevada; partial information, as at 2/9/15):

Number of Stops:  245

Traffic Citations:  119

Warnings:  111

Crashes:  12

Fatal Crashes:  0

Speed Citations:  62

Seat Belt Violations:  2

DUI Arrests:  7

Drug Arrests:  0

Commercial Vehicle Inspections:  21


 

2014 Arrest Statistics

(from all law enforcement, including BLM)

Population Size (Peak, 8/29/14):

65,922 paid participants

9,312 workers

Total Population: 75,234

Total Cops: 185 (150 BLM; 27 PCSO; 8 Washoe)

Total Arrests: 7

  • 1 sexual assault
  • 4 drugs
  • 1 domestic violence
  • 2 trespassing

[note: this adds to 8. Earlier the RGJ reported 8 arrests for 2014, now they are saying 7; perhaps charges were dropped, or perhaps 1 person was booked for multiple crimes. This case might also provide an explanation]

Total Citations: 392

Total Incidents: 1,902

  • 334 public assists
  • 860 traffic stops
  • 520 verbal warnings
  • 230 written warnings
  • 392 citations.
    • 104 were issued on the road entrance,
    • 205 were issued for possession of a controlled substance (
      • 117 marijuana,
      • 30 ecstasy,
      • 18 cocaine,
      • 40 other
      • 52 multiple drug types
      • 50 motor vehicle violations.

[Source: RGJ]


While we’re at it, might as well thrown in some medical statistics. We’re hoping to get those for 2015, so we can see how CrowdRX fared compared to their predecessor Humboldt General.

2014 Medical Statistics

Total Patients treated: 2880 (according to BLM Director); 6100 (according to Afterburn report)

Drug overdoses: 71

Trauma incidents: 67

Alcohol Poisoning: 30

Death: 1

[Source: John Ruhs, BLM State Director, Nevada]


 

Here is the arrest data from previous years, as best as I have been able to assemble. They certainly don’t make it easy for Burners to find this stuff.

Screenshot 2015-09-12 02.47.57

[Sources various 2001-2012, NYT / RGJ 2014, BLM official numbers 2010-2013,  KRNV4 news 2013]

There have been some procedural changes, with the Sheriffs and BLM being integrated for a few years, and this year de-integrated again. So this may not be a straight “apples to apples” comparison, we could be missing some Pershing and Washoe County arrests as most of these figures have come from the BLM. According to local news reports, in 2013 15 people were taken to jail in Pershing County. Maybe some of these were later released without charge, or maybe this is in addition to the 6 arrests reported by the BLM. The anecdotal evidence we have is that arrests were way down under former Sheriff Machado; it is quite clear that his replacement has gone in the other direction.

The full story on 2015 arrests by Burning Man beat reporter Jenny Kane at the Reno Gazette-Journal has some other interesting information:

Whether participants felt that they were being watched more closely this year was up for debate. Some felt the law enforcement presence more than others.

It’s noticeably more strict this year. They’re literally sitting out, and if you have any minor infractions, they’re nailing you,” Jim Pehkonen, of Salt Lake City, said during Burning Man. “When they pull people over, often if they do consent to a search, they take everything out and they put it on the side and if they find anything, they arrest you.”

During entry to Burning Man, anyone who did not consent to a search if stopped by law enforcement was denied entry to the event.

“In past years, they’ve used more discretion. This year, they’re wreaking havoc,” said Pehkonen…

BLM agents, who also serve as law enforcement at the event, made no arrests at the event this year.

That is very probably because Pershing County Sheriff’s Office process the arrests, and take the perps to their jail.

BMOrg pay for the prosecutions, so it looks like Sheriff Allen will be sending them a bigger invoice this year:

Pershing County receives funding from Burning Man to prosecute cases that result from criminal activity by participants at Burning Man, although Allen said in previous statements that the county needs more funding from the San Francisco-based nonprofit for the county to take on the “heartache” that comes with Burning Man.

[Source: RGJ]


[Update 9/12/15 2:45am PST]

Any Burners who did get busted might want to contact Lawyers For Burners.

Results from 2014

 Every single participant who contacted Lawyers for Burners after receiving a drug citation at the 2013 Event was offered the chance to plea bargain the citation to a non-drug offense. The BLM offered to dismiss the drug possession citation if the participant agreed to plead guilty to a motor vehicle infraction. The BLM routinely reduced the $500 fine as well. Attorneys affiliated with Lawyers for Burners worked directly with the United States Attorney’s Office (the part of government that prosecutes citations written by the BLM) to accomplish these results. Lawyers for Burners acknowledges and appreciates the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Reno, Nevada for its management of the Burning Man citation calendars every year.

[Source: Lawyers For Burners]

The New York Times quotes John Routsis from Lawyers for Burners, and tells a horror story about a Mom who got busted with DMT, shrooms and a kid in the car, and may now be facing a life sentence:

“You have these individuals go there to go to this experience, and they will sometimes partake in illegal narcotics, hallucinogens, as part of their rite of passage,” Mr. Routsis said. “Now there is a great consequence to that action, where there wasn’t beforehand.”

Lately, the arrests have been handled locally rather than by the federal government, which is not good news for the Burners: In Nevada, there are lengthy mandatory jail sentences for even small amounts of drugs. Even so, evidence from past years suggests that judges seldom throw the book at the celebrators.

One of Mr. Routsis’ clients is … 35, the owner of a cupcake shop… She was arrested at the start of the festival after a sniffing dog set off an alert on her car at a traffic stop in Washoe County, just to the west of the event site. [She] faces several charges, including drug possession and Level 3 drug trafficking, a felony that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. One charge is related to her having her 7-year-old in the car with the drugs, which the sheriff’s office described as “significant quantities” of psilocybin — found in magic mushrooms — and dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, another psychedelic.

[She] expressed dismay at the charges. “My family, friends and I go to Burning Man to awaken our consciousness and to become better human beings,” she said in an emailed statement.

Some infractions may be the result of culture clashes. In a 2012 case described on the Internet forum Reddit, a Burner said he had been arrested on child-endangerment charges by deputies who took issue with his permitting his 12-year-old son to be naked.

“I spend the night in Lovelock,” the parent said, referring to a Pershing Country prison, “and paid $885 to a bail bondsman on a $5,600 bond.”

[Source: NYT]

Arrests, Citations Up

The new Pershing County Sheriff promised to get the arrest count up from last year, and he’s already delivered – 12 arrests and an unknown number of citations. At least one Burner has been reported sitting in a jail cell after dogs discovered all his stash in a search of his vehicle.

A highway patrol crackdown on I-80 also netted a lot of valuable citations for the under-funded police.

From the Reno Gazette Journal:

Pershing County Sheriff’s deputies have made about 12 arrests so far since Burning Man opened its gates Sunday morning, with some arrests made and citations issued even before the festival started.

“Its kind hard to track because we’ve had so many as we speak,” Pershing County Undersheriff Tom Bjerke said Tuesday. “There were some before that. Most of it at this point is for controlled substances and maybe battery witnessed by the officer.”

…Bjerke said he absolutely expected more arrests as the festival continues. Details on the arrests made were not immediately available.

“We’ve seen a much, much bigger crowd earlier in the event this year,” Bjerke said. “The information system is being overloaded because of a combination of factors.”

That includes bad communication between deputies at the playa and officers at the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t have the best equipment in the world here, and we’re trying to communicate with a lot of outdated stuff,” Bjerke said…“We’re making more arrests because we have more officers out there,” he said. “We’re issuing citations for personal dope and seizing the dope and going on with the event.

Most Burners arrested on drug-related charges “made a life mistake,” Bjerke said. Those mistakes shouldn’t take away from the event, he said.

“You have a choice a lot of the times to arrest someone or issue a citation and a lot of the times it’s easier to issue a citation.

[Source: RGJ]

Read the full story at the RGJ.

What sort of stuff are they trying to communicate with? Did their radios stop working? How hard can it be to write up a citation or put handcuffs on someone and drive them to jail in your car?

At least they have enough technology now to make life easier for their dogs.

[image published in Daily Mail removed at request of photo subject]

The Nevada Highway Patrol have been cracking down on Burners, too. The RGJ again:

A crackdown on speeding and traffic violations along Interstate 80 ended with 245 traffic stops from the California state line to Lovelock, the Nevada Highway Patrol said Tuesday.

Eleven state law enforcement agencies finished the three-day effort to eliminate fatalities across the 2,900 mile long Interstate 80 on Monday. Authorities focused on enforcing the I-80 corridor throughout the weekend.

A total of 119 drivers were cited from the California State line to Lovelock, NHP spokesman Trooper Duncan Dauber said in a news release.

Authorities conducted 245 traffic stops, gave 111 warnings and inspected 21 commercial vehicles. A total of 12 crashes were reported and two drivers were cited for seat belt violations.

Thousands of vehicles traveled across I-80 over the weekend to attend Burning Man, about 110 miles north of Fernley.

The Nevada Highway Patrol released the following statement on the increase in traffic:

“The goal of the I-80 Challenge is simple: saving lives. Saving lives starts with a change in driving behavior. With local media assisting in the distribution of the message and its importance, the weekend here in Northern Nevada concluded fatality free.”

Although this year’s I-80 Challenge has concluded, the state wants to reiterate that every day is an opportunity to focus on driving safe and staying alive.”

State wide, 18 crashes were reported. A total of 182 traffic citations were issued, plus 294 speeding citations. Authorities also arrested eight drivers on a driving under the influence charge and four on drug-related charges.

At a glance

Northern Nevada traffic stops:

Number of Crashes:  12

Number of Fatal Crashes:  0

Number of Fatalities:  0

Number of Speed Citations:  62

Number of Seat Belt Violations:  2

Number of Traffic Citations:  119

Number of Warnings:  111

Number of DUI Arrests:  7

Number of Drug Arrests:  0

Number of Stops:  245

Number of Commercial Vehicle Inspections:  21

Mileage Driven:  8057 miles

Statewide traffic stops:

Number of Crashes:  18

Number of Fatal Crashes:  0

Number of Fatalities:  0

Number of Speed Citations:  294

Number of Seat Belt Violations:  11

Number of Traffic Citations:  182

Number of Warnings:  359

Number of DUI Arrests:  8

Number of Drug Arrests:  4

Number of Stops:  840

Number of Commercial Vehicle Inspections:  21

Mileage Driven:  20105 miles

Source: Nevada Highway Patrol

[Source: Reno Gazette Journal]