The row between Kulturkosmos, organizers of the festival, and police is threatening to cancel the festival for the very first time.
“The police want to stop Fusion Festival” reads the headline on the Kulturkosmos website. The owners have started a petition, which had upwards of 56,000 signatures early on Monday evening.
The police have called for a police presence in the centre of the festival, saying that they are dissatisfied with the organizers’ security systems and want to ensure the safety of festival attendees.
Aside from a centrally-located temporary station, police have sought permission to have plain-clothed officers walk around the five-day festival.
The organizers have hit back, arguing that the requests are excessive and that they are being punished for an abstract threat and pointing out that there has been only one incident of violence in the festival’s history.
They argue that allowing unmarked officers to patrol the festival would be contrary to its ethos of freedom of artistic expression.
District Administrator Heiko Kärger (CDU) told DPA that the police’s change in policy is motivated by legitimate security concerns.
“The security concerns for such a major event must be met,” he said. “Nobody wants further problems, such as at the Love Parade disaster in 2010.”
Besides a break in 2017, the Festival – which takes place at an abandoned Soviet military base in Lärz, Mecklenburg West-Pomerania – has run annually every year since 1997.
From humble beginnings, Fusion Festival has grown in size and reputation over the years.
The festival averages 70,000 attendees from all across Germany and the world. For comparison, the United States’ Burning Man Festival has only once hit that number.