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Burning Man 2023: Ranger plows through protest roadblock

Burning Man 2023's eponymous structure looks over the Nevada desert on Aug. 25, 2023.
Burning Man 2023’s eponymous structure looks over the Nevada desert on Friday. | Source: Maryann Jones Thompson for The Standard

An environmental protest jammed Burning Man traffic for miles on the festival's opening day Sunday until a park ranger drove into the trailer the activists were using to obstruct the road, effectively breaking down the blockade.

In a video posted on social media, the ranger drives a white pickup that appears to be from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Station into a trailer blocking Nevada State Route 447, forcing the vehicle aside while a protester is still sitting on it.

The video shows four activists near the trailer at the moment the truck crashed into it.

The ranger then turns back around and drives back toward the protesters, running over signs reading “Burners of the World, Unite,” “Abolish Capitalism” and “General Strike for Climate” that were posted on the trailer before stopping and exiting the truck.

Video posted Sunday on social media site X shows the ranger then approaching a protester, drawing a weapon and demanding she get on the ground. The protester begins to walk away before the ranger pulls her to the ground and pins her under his knee.

Another video posted online shows a male protester several feet away from the road also being forcefully restrained by a ranger.

The chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, a sovereign nation whose land the highway passes through, posted a statement saying that rangers responded to protesters blocking the highway around 1 p.m. and causing a miles-long traffic jam.

The statement went on to say that the rangers' conduct is under review.

The five activists involved with the protest include one person from California, another from Washington, two from New York and someone from the country of Malta, according to the statement.

Protest organizers said they obstructed festival traffic to underscore "capitalism's inability to address climate and ecological breakdown," according to a Sunday press release by Seven Circles, a coalition of activist groups behind the protest.

The protesters' demands included banning private jets, single-use plastics and unlimited generator use at Burning Man.

Burning Man organizers, the ranger station and Seven Circles did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at