The recent deaths at Street Vibrations and Reno’s National Championship Air Races and Air Show are tragic, but the commentary by elected officials and profit-interested parties is pure hypocrisy, and until people start telling the truth about what happened, nothing’s going to change.
We’ve editorialized in this newspaper about the jurisdictions’ management of special events many times. We’ve specifically mentioned using non-police security to handle rowdy crowds. But it’s cold comfort being proven right for merely stating the obvious. These are our neighbors and family who are put at risk when elected officials decide to turn a blind eye to problems, but we, our friends and our families are quite aware there is an element of danger when we drive out to watch the races or attend a “special” event.
So, let’s say it clearly: Reno’s National Championship Air Races and Air Show is popular because it’s dangerous. It’s the world’s fastest race; that’s the whole point of it. There are few regular attendees who haven’t seen a pilot killed. There are few people who live in the area who haven’t had a momentary shudder at the idea of one of those planes plowing into their homes. In 1998, the RN&R interviewed a pilot, http://tinyurl.com/5rgrpw3, who appeared on the cover of this newspaper alive on the same day as his airplane appeared crushed on the cover of the Sparks Tribune. The pilot, Dick Roberts, was dead when our issue hit the streets.
It’s utterly dishonest and disingenuous for our elected officials to pretend like they thought those races were safe. Period. Is there any sporting event that is safe? People get hit with foul balls at the Reno Aces Ballpark almost every game. People get in drunk fights at University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack games at the drop of a helmet. It’s worldwide news when someone tumbles off a stadium or there’s a brawl at a soccer match in Portugal. We’ve all seen NASCAR accidents in which car parts fly up into the stands. Motorcyclists have died during Street Vibrations, and it’s not even a sporting event, it’s a bike show.
But as long as we’re on Street Vibrations, let’s talk about the shootings at John Ascuaga’s Nugget and on Victorian Avenue. People who attract motorcycle gangs to their parties can’t honestly pretend surprise when they misbehave. What kind of fools fake astonishment when they invite the fucking Hells Angels and Vagos into their places of business, and they break bad? Gimme Shelter, with it’s coverage of the Altamont murder by Hells Angels, came out in 1970. Motorcycle gangs and violence and drug sales go together like mom and apple pie. These aren’t different sides to the same coin, they are the coin.
If Northern Nevada wants an open guest list, including violent, big city gangs—admittedly, an infinitesimal percentage of total attendees—it has to deal with security in a more realistic, sophisticated way. That means bouncers with wands or metal detectors at the doors. That means drug-sniffing dogs. That means real police. That means paying for those costs.
Sort of like the big cities do high schools.