Burning Man Arrests Skyrocket 600% From Last Year

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Harrison Williams
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Burning Man 2015 photo credit Andy BarronRGJ

This past year the desert festival of Burning Man looked like it was a pretty fun time, i mean, dancing around in the desert with the best music and freedom of expression sounds amazing right? For some Burners it wasn't so amazing and crime rates surged to 600% more arrests than the previous year. If you thought Burning Man was just one giant free-for-all, these statistics tell a different story.

The New York Times wrote:

"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)

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+

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

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.

(Article Sources: RGJ/NYT/Burners.me)