Over 400 Arrested, Five Hospitalized During Nocturnal Wonderland Music Festival

By Dorri Olds 09/08/16

Festival attendees were arrested for charges including drug possession, public intoxication, drug sales and even indecent exposure. 

Over 400 Arrested, Five Hospitalized During Nocturnal Wonderland Music Festival

This past Labor Day weekend, 428 people were arrested and five were hospitalized at Nocturnal Wonderland, a three-day electronic music festival held in San Bernardino, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, one sheriff’s deputy suffered minor injuries while making an arrest. He was taken to a local hospital but then released.

On Friday, the first night of Nocturnal Wonderland, 111 festival-goers were arrested. Six of those arrests were for being younger than 18, the minimum age to get in. And, when a guest crashed her car into a law enforcement parked vehicle, she was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

An estimated 18,589 people attended the rave on the second night, according to a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s report. Police were on hand with Automated License Plate Readers and remote security cameras for added security. 

Saturday's arrests totaled 141 among the thousands of music fans. Offenses included drug possession, drug sales, intoxication, and assault and battery. There was even one arrest for indecent exposure. 

On Sunday, the last day of the festival, and into Monday morning, 176 of the 22,844 people in attendance were arrested. According to authorities, most of the arrests were related to drugs, alcohol and trespassing. One person was hospitalized after suffering traumatic injuries in an assault.

For the entire festival, approximately one guest out of every 60 was arrested, according to Digital Music News. Though the festival netted hundreds of arrests and minor injuries, there were no deaths.

Due to concerns over arrests, overdoses and deaths that took place at other Southern California music festivals like the Hard Summer rave in August— where three people died—security was tight this year. Promoter Insomniac Events, a subsidiary of Live Nation, even paid for additional law enforcement. Since euphoria-inducing party drugs like ecstasy and methamphetamine have caused overdoses in years past, there was an Amnesty Box set up outside the amphitheater gates so festival-goers could dispose of any drugs without penalty.

The added security seemed to piss off attendees. Disgruntled commenters on Nocturnal Wonderland's Facebook page felt the police presence was a bit much. "Too much security. Too many arrests. Will not be returning to this in the future," wrote one commenter. "I'm surprised I'm seeing a lack of negative comments about the police presence," wrote another. "Did you people WANT that much security there?"

This September marked Nocturnal Wonderland's 21st year running. Featured acts included the Noisy Freaks, Bones, Knife Party, Liquid Stranger and Black Tiger Sex Machine.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.