More than a thousand people gathered on a San Francisco beach over the weekend to celebrate Burning Man, the desert arts festival that was cancelled this year because of coronavirus, San Francisco’s mayor announced, saying the “absolutely reckless” party had put people’s lives at risk.
Social media video of people dancing, some without wearing masks, and setting fires at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on Saturday prompted widespread condemnation.
“You are putting our progress at risk,” San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, tweeted Sunday morning, announcing that the city was closing down the parking lots at one of the city’s most accessible beaches to prevent another Burning Man gathering.
San Francisco had seen only 86 coronavirus deaths, according to public health data, compared to a toll of nearly 14,000 deaths statewide.
The news that San Francisco’s mayor was reducing access to a public beach on a holiday weekend of record-breaking heat only renewed criticism of Burning Man, an event that is often derided as elitist and exclusionary, despite its stated principles of radical inclusion and self-reliance.
Burning Man, which takes place each year in Nevada’s remote Black Rock desert, actually began on a San Francisco beach in 1986 when a group of friends built a figure out of wood and burned him. Since then it has grown into a massive international arts and music festival that attracts 80,000 participants a year, with the cheapest tickets costing hundreds of dollars.
Shahid Buttar, a progressive candidate who challenged Nancy Pelosi in a Democratic congressional primary earlier this year, called the Ocean Beach gathering “lovely” and tweeted that he had seen “dozens of groups scattered across the beach at sunset”.
President Trump has announced a 10-year ban on oil drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina — in a political reversal likely meant to help shore up his support in swing states.
There is already a moratorium against drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, on Florida’s west coast. That ban will be extended until 2032. The drilling ban for the southern Atlantic coast will begin July 1, 2022.
Industry officials were not expecting the decision and called it an “ambush,” according to Politico.
Trump in 2017 proposed opening essentially all US coasts to offshore drilling. But Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott and other coastal leaders opposed the plan, arguing that any oil spill could jeopardize tourism and fisheries.
Read the original article at The Guardian