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Climate protests block Burning Man traffic

Traffic into Burning Man was brought to a standstill by anti-capitalist climate activists on the opening day of the event.

The New York Post reports that five protesters from the Seven Circles Alliance used a trailer to block the road in and out of the countercultural gathering, which runs from 27 August to 4 September in Nevada’s Black Rock desert in the US.

The group describes itself as a “diverse coalition that uses non-violent direct action to raise class consciousness within the climate movement”. It says the stunt was designed to highlight “capitalism’s inability to address climate’s ecological breakdown”, and as a protest against the “popularisation of Burning Man among affluent people who do not live the stated values of Burning Man, resulting in the commodification of the event”.

It adds that the festival’s goal of being carbon-negative by 2030 is “insufficient to tackle the pressing crisis.”

Often dubbed an “anti-festival”, Burning Man was founded in 1986 and has grown from a three-day, 80-person ‘zone trip’ to an nine-day event attended by around 80,000 people, including Silicon Valley CEOs and other business leaders.

The protest was shut down when a ranger drove into the blockade and arrested the campaigners

The protest, which caused traffic tailbacks spanning several miles, was shut down when a ranger from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal (PLPT) police drove into the blockade and arrested the campaigners, who have since been released. A video of the incident has been viewed millions of times on social media.

Seven Circles criticised the police’s response as “excessive”.

“The use of excessive force and the criminalisation of peaceful protesters serve to maintain the status quo for those in power,” says the organisation. “This level of force may have been in response to a civilian who called 911 and falsely reported that the Seven Circles activists had a firearm. This is just one instance in the epidemic of civilians weaponising the police through false reporting.”

In a statement to NBC, the PLPT says: “One ranger used his patrol vehicle to move the blockade debris out of the roadway to allow Burning Man traffic to proceed. The involved Ranger’s conduct is under review.”


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