Salon follows up their recent investigations into sexual assaults and worker abuse at Burning Man.
From Salon.com [emphasis ours]:
…the renowned gathering is not as utopian as it might appear. Two Salon investigations in the past two years have revealed that the supposedly liberating environment has also provided cover for predators of all kinds, including some who work for and even run the event. It has also fostered exploitation of its most vulnerable workers, in a manner that rivals any corporate machine in the “default world.”
Now that these harrowing stories of exploitation and abuse on the playa have been made public, we were curious if the organization had sought to reform itself or merely doubled-down on denying and protecting its abusers.
Back in August 2018… published the results of a year-long investigation into claims of labor abuse within the Burning Man organization. We spoke to former and current employees and volunteers for the festival who painted a picture of a dangerous and stressful work environment. Some shared stories about a toxic management culture which they claimed was ignoring and creating a serious mental health crisis among workers within Burning Man’s Department of Public Works (DPW), seasonal workers who build the bulk of the infrastructure that allows the desert festival to function
Between 2009 and 2015, seven DPW workers died by suicide. That number is statistically significant enough to be alarming, according to Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, a psychologist and the lead of the Workplace Task Force for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. “To give you a benchmark, in a community of 1,000 people we would expect one suicide death in one decade,” she told Salon in 2018…
From hundreds of documents reviewed, and dozens of rangers and victims spoken to, it became clear that, contrary to Burners’ perceptions of the playa as a safe, welcoming space, women are at considerable risk of being sexually assaulted there. Moreover, their false sense of security is due in part to the disorganized way that Burning Man discloses sexual assaults— and the improper instructions and training that the all-volunteer internal security force known as the Black Rock Rangers and their supervisors, called Khakis, receive…
The inadequate self-policing system has the effect, intended or otherwise, of silencing and dismissing victims of sexual assault and other forms of abuse before they have an opportunity to report the crime to law enforcement.
Read the full story at salon.com
[Read Salon’s exclusive investigation into how Burning Man minimized reports of sexual assault on the playa]