Saturday, September 10, 2011

Roads to festival blocked | Officials say the lack of permits makes the festival a risk for public health, safety and fire danger

The small town of Blachy here in Oregon (not far from where I live in Eugene) has put on a music festival on private land for the last eleven years. This year the festival continues, sort of.

A judge granted an injunction against the festival and issued a restraining order against the festival coordinators. The reason for this injunction is because (supposedly) the festival planners don't have the permits. Roads are blocked prohibiting access to the property, which seems highly illegal. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the festival is allowed to continue -- those already on the land to attend the festival are being left alone. But if the festival is illegal due to lack of permits, why not go in there and cite the festival facilitators and or land owner under the permit laws -- why block roads?

County officials said organizers of the “Where Life Begins 2011” electronic music festival failed to obtain permits for an event that started Friday, placing attendees projected in the thousands and the general public at risk for public health, safety and fire dangers.
Roadblocks to the site went up about 7:30 p.m. Friday at Swamp Creek, Jay and Rust roads, despite passionate arguments from the event organizer, Russell Gorman of Portland, and the property owner, Brian Hamilton, that the 11-year-old festival is safe.
Capt. Bill Thompson of the Lane County Sheriff’s Office said deputies would be stationed at the roadblocks throughout the night to ensure that no more cars got into the festival. However, law enforcement agencies were reluctant to remove people and musicians who already had reached the grounds. Therefore, barring changing circumstances, Thompson said the festival itself would not be broken up.
Public safety is a concern, hence the issuing of the restraining order and go ahead to block the roads, yet the festival is allowed to continue anyway, even though the festival is a supposed hazard. The article goes on to say that the festival planners, land owner and those in attendance could be later charged with contempt.

I suspect there's more to this than concern for public safety. Sheriffs and other authorities cite several reasons for not wanting the event held: fire safety concerns, access for emergency vehicles, drinking water, sanitation, etc. But it seems odd that these factors are a concern after eleven years. The event is described by one of the event organizers:
“I would describe this event as a bunch of creative musicians connecting through their art form,” said Chet Wilson, one the event’s organizers and a Portland resident. “This is a nationally recognized event ... and a peaceful gathering of people. (Electronic dance music) started out in Europe, but it’s gaining power here. This is a movement like a new-age Woodstock.”
Some residents don't mind, after all, this is an area of "old hippies" as one person describes himself int he article. Others disagree with peace love and happiness:
I’m going to be nervous in my home for three days, scared of people wandering up to my house ... The kids don’t go down there to drink tea.”

And that last quote is the one the local paper pulled for it's headline:
The kids don’t go down there to drink tea.”— JOHN COYNE, A RESIDENT WHO LIVES NEAR FESTIVAL SITE
Which tells us everything we need to know about the agendas behind blocking the festival.

Roads to festival blocked | Officials say the lack of permits makes the festival a risk for public health, safety and fire danger

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