After intense rain from Tropical Storm Hilary delayed preparations last week, Burning Man experienced continued logistical woes yesterday, when climate and anti-capitalist protesters blocked a main road leading to the festival, resulting in miles of traffic on the event’s first day.
Photos and videos posted to social media show a trailer blocking Nevada state Route 47, which leads to the festival site in Black Rock Desert, as well as about six protesters with banners and signs that read, “BURNERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!” and “ABOLISH CAPITALISM” among other slogans.
According to a statement from Seven Circles—the group that organized the protest—the blockade was intended to bring attention to “capitalism’s inability to address climate and ecological breakdown.”
In the same statement, Seven Circles added, “The blockade is also in protest against the popularization of Burning Man among affluent people who do not live the stated values of Burning Man, resulting in the commodification of the event.”
In attempts to circumvent the roadblock, many drivers left their cars to find a route around the traffic. Some videos show a number of drivers trying to remove the barricade themselves.
As seen in another video, officers from Pyramid Lake Ranger Station, a tribal law enforcement agency, can be heard on a PA system telling the protestors to disperse before driving through the blockade with a white pickup truck.
Though protesters appeared to be unarmed and repeatedly told authorities that they are “nonviolent,” one official got out of his truck with a gun drawn and told protestors to “get down now.” Several demonstrators were placed in handcuffs.
Additional information remains unclear. The actions of protestors and authorities have sparked considerable debate online, and the festival will continue as scheduled through September 4.
Featured image from The Burning Man Project. Credit: Marley Windham-Herman.