Anti-capitalist climate activists blocked traffic into Burning Man Sunday, causing a stand-still spanning several miles on a major thoroughfare in Nevada – before rangers arrested them at gunpoint for “trespassing on tribal land.”
Videos posted online showed about half a dozen protesters from Seven Circles blocking a rural road using a trailer that they locked themselves onto, surrounded by banners reading “BURNERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!,” “ABOLISH CAPITALISM” and “GENERAL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE.”
The group says the protest was designed to draw attention to “capitalism’s inability to address climate’s ecological breakdown” and was meant as a 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.”
Seven Circles specifically claims that the annual arts and counter-culture festival’s goal of being carbon-negative by 2030 is “insufficient to tackle the pressing crisis.”
It argues that Burning Man’s apolitical stance is “detrimental to its claimed values, especially as carbon emissions continue to rise despite government and corporate commitments to reduce carbon emissions by more than half by 2030.”
“We do not have a climate problem, the climate is behaving exactly in line with the laws of physics,” Thomas Diocano, co-founder of Rave Revolution said in a statement. “We have an economic system problem, and that economic system is capitalism.
“History shows that capitalism cannot be reformed. It cannot be changed from the ‘inside’. Are we really ready to sacrifice everything for an outdated, unequal economic system? The time to evolve has come.”
Among its demands are that Burning Man leadership “advocate for system change on both political and economic levels” and ban private jets, single-use plastics, “unnecessary propane burning and unlimited generator use” at the nine-day event.
But the group’s protest angered many trying to get to the annual event at Black Rock City.
A video posted online showed a man in a red, white and blue cowboy hat and sunglasses telling the activists, “You’re on public property. We’ve got to get through.”
He mentioned that he had children in his truck, and told the protesters, “Sorry, you have to move this f***ing mess.”
The protesters, in turn, tell him to call the local authorities as a woman in a sun hat assures the man he’s “going to eventually get” to Burning Man.
She then chains herself to the trailer as one of her fellow protesters gets in another man’s face, saying: “This is a democracy, we have a right to protest.”
The woman in the sunhat tells the protester to “lock in and shut up” like she did, but he continues to berate the angry driver saying, “Every change in society came from civil disobedience, all of them.”
At that point, a line of cars and trucks could be seen lining up behind the trailer trying to get through, as other drivers start to argue with the protesters.
Eventually, the irate drivers tried to move the trailer themselves, leading the female protester to yell, “Hey, you’re hurting me.”
“Well you chained yourself to it,” a man in a backwards baseball cap and tank top responds.
Another woman also tells her it was a “dumb-a– move.”
Shortly thereafter, a second video shows a tribal ranger ramming his truck through the protest, telling the activists “You better move” as they screamed.
The woman in the sunhat then starts to cry, “We’re not violent,” before a ranger comes out with his gun drawn and instructs the protesters to “get down, on the ground now.”
He could be seen pushing one of the female protesters to the ground with his gun still drawn at her head. He later seems to straddle the woman as another ranger handcuffs her ankles together.
Meanwhile, the protester in the sunhat continues to cry, “We have no guns at all. We’re environmental protesters.”
At that point, another ranger could be seen coming into view saying they are “trespassing on tribal land.”
Several of the protesters were then taken into custody for their involvement in the demonstration.
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