Lost Lands 2018 was largely considered a success from an attendee standpoint, but not one without a good deal of controversy following some less-than-positives reports concerning two confirmed deaths, overdoses, and various other rumored drug-related incidents. Right on the heels of that, Bunk Police Founder Adam Auctor dropped into Reddit to clear up exactly what went down.
Bunk Police, known widely for their groundbreaking documentary What’s in My Baggie, was on-site all weekend long at Lost Lands, utilizing their “BUNKBOT” alert system, designed to send out text alerts at festivals to anyone who signs up, with detailed information on drugs that test positive for harmful and dangerous substances.
On Reddit, Auctor confirmed that “prior to the event, Lost Lands went out of their way to contact local law enforcement and ask for permission to allow Dancesafe, our sister organization, to operate without restriction.” In practice, that meant free substance testing booths both inside the venue and in the Lost Lands camping area. That was quickly scaled back at the last second by local law enforcement, and the Dancesafe booth inside the venue was removed (the one in the campsites was left active).
The fact that testing booths were even permitted at Lost Lands in the first place was groundbreaking in and of itself, as “one of the first times that free testing has been made available at an event East of California and outside of Detroit.” While outfits like Shambhala Music Festival are allowed free rein to test any and all substances through ANKORS, similar services at festivals in the United States have been widely hindered by a combination of law enforcement, “concerns that insurance underwriters will drop their coverage or increase premiums,” application of the RAVE Act, and an unwillingness by the federal government to condone drug use in any way, even in the name of safety and harm reduction.
As Auctor laid out on Reddit, “the U.S. has the ability to take harm reduction to the next level… but we just aren’t willing.”
Auctor also clarified and debunked a handful of rumors that were circulating around social media in the days following Lost Lands. Among those was confirmation that there were not fentanyl-laced water bottles being distributed, and that despite unconfirmed rumors to the contrary, Bunk Police and Dancesafe volunteers were not arrested by security at any point during the weekend.
Bunk Police and Dancesafe’s presence was felt in a big way at Lost Lands, with volunteers roaming the campgrounds, issuing thousands of tests, and setting up in front of the sound camps Saturday night following reports of ODs and fentanyl-laced cocaine.
Obviously the situation at Lost Lands raised a few red flags in terms of the multiple reports of medical incidents, fentanyl-laced drugs, and irresponsible drug use by a handful of attendees. That said, that’s exactly why organizations like Bunk Police and Dancesafe are so integral both to the health of our scene, and the health of festival attendees everywhere.
For our part, we’re grateful to Auctor for taking the time to clear up the rumors that followed Lost Lands, and helping stem the flow of misinformation that so often follows controversy in the music scene. We also commend Excision and all the people who helped build Lost Lands for coordinating with local law enforcement to bring Bunk Police into the fold to help out on-site. If you’re an event company, promoter, or artist interested in utilizing Bunk Police’s services, you can contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and read up on their organization at their main site here.