FBI has kept tabs on Nevada’s Burning Man festival, documents say
The annual Burning Man counterculture festival now taking place in a Nevada desert is known for attracting scantily clad revelers, bike lovers, artists, musicians and as it turns out, even attention from the FBI.
According to documents posted this week at MuckRock.com, the FBI monitored the event in 2010, finding that it carried risks associated with crowd control and illegal drugs.
The documents were released following a 2012 public records request by journalist Inkoo Kang. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the MuckRock.com report.
Burning Man, named for the burning of a wooden effigy that marks the climax of the festival of art and free expression, brings tens of thousands of people to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada and adds an estimated $35 million to the local economy each year.
Last year’s event drew nearly 70,000 participants. In 2010, when the documents were generated by the FBI, the festival attracted about 50,000 people.
“The greatest known threat in this event is crowd control issues and use of illegal drugs by the participants,” said an FBI document on the festival posted to MuckRock.com.
The document said the agency’s Las Vegas office would work with the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to aid in preventing militant activities and handle intelligence issues, according to the copy posted at MuckRock.com.
The documents posted at the website were heavily redacted.
They did not make clear if the FBI had monitored Burning Man more recently than 2010.
It is not the first time the FBI has taken an interest in the cultural sphere. Decades ago, it investigated former Beatle John Lennon and Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes for their political views.
This year’s Burning Man festival ends on Monday.