A group of climate activists staged a protest just outside of Burning Man on Aug. 27, 2023, the day that the massive art festival was set to begin in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.
The groups of climate activists, led by Extinction Rebellion, blocked traffic with their peaceful demonstration, which led Nevada rangers to drive through the climate protest, per the Toronto Sun. Here are all the details of what happened.
What were the activists protesting at Burning Man?
As the Toronto Sun noted, the individuals who set up a blockade along a busy road heading to Burning Man did so with demands that the festival organizers get serious about climate goals. Specifically, they demanded a ban on private jets and single-use plastics. Burning Man has official sustainability goals including being "carbon negative" by 2030, but the protesters made it clear that these goals are not enough.
The New York Post reported that protesters displayed banners with slogans such as "Abolish Capitalism" and "General Strike for Climate". One group, Seven Circles, said the goal of being carbon-negative by 2030 is “insufficient to tackle the pressing crisis.” The small group of protesters may have acted peacefully, but Nevada rangers wouldn't stand for their blockage of the road to the festival.
The Daily Mail reported on the protest and subsequent interference, saying that Extinction Rebellion and Seven Circles were the main environmental groups represented at the climate protest.
Nevada rangers drove through the climate protest.
In video footage posted to Twitter by @MichelleLhooq, you can see a Nevada ranger truck drive straight at the climate protesters' display, knocking down signs and then circling back toward the protesters. None of the protesters were standing directly in the truck's path, fortunately.
As per The Los Angeles Times, a ranger got out of a vehicle threatening protesters with a gun, demanding they “get down now.”
The ranger is then seen yanking a protester by the arm, and then using his knee to keep her body down on the pavement while handcuffing her.
As the Nevada ranger begins to make arrests, you can hear a woman shouting, "We have no weapons at all" and "We're environmental protesters." She also says several times while being arrested, "He's hurting me." The Post noted that at one point, a ranger told the people involved in the protest that they were "trespassing on tribal land".
The Daily Mail reported that one Extinction Rebellion protester said: "The time has come. Burning Man should aim to have the same type of political impact that Woodstock had on counter-culture."
One of those aims was to convince the Burning Man organization to ban private jets due to their devastating climate impacts.
Public opinion on the protest and how the rangers handled it was divided. Some people were on the side of the Nevada rangers, because of the disruption to people's lives the protesters created by blocking traffic. Some commenters insisted the protest would have worked on the side of the road, out of the way.
However, others felt the rangers overreacted and were unnecessarily harsh with the protesters. It's unclear exactly how many people were arrested, but the video shows around half a dozen people, several of whom are recorded during their arrest.
We applaud these protesters for standing their ground in the name of protecting the planet.