The inspiration for Dutch YouTubers Ties Granzier, 20, and Govert Sweep, 21, to attempt a visit to Area 51 was a viral Facebook event that asked people to storm the site. “We heard about the storming event. That’s why we became interested,” Sweep told KTNV Las Vegas.
The young men were arrested on September 10, being 3 miles into the Nevada National Security Site where Area 51 is located. Controlled by the military, the site was originally established for testing nuclear weapons. However, the CIA did not acknowledge the existence of Area 51 until 2013, which has for decades led to conspiracy theories claiming that the US government uses it to store aliens and UFOs.
In July, Matty Roberts from California jokingly created the Facebook event titled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” which encouraged people to storm the site on September 20. The event went viral, with more than 2 million people around the globe signing up to attend the storming. The YouTubers had no intention of taking part in the event, since their plane was to leave one day before the 20th.
Granzier and Sweep pleaded guilty to trespassing and were sentenced to a year in county jail, but the sentence was suspended after a plea deal. The two instead need to spend a total of three days in the county jail, if they pay a fine of $2,280 each. In a statement posted on the Nye County Sheriff’s Office’s social media page, Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia explains that it was essential to have the two serve jail time and pay fines, in order that they take this type of crime seriously.
The upcoming storming event has led to precautions. In order to manage the anticipated crowds,Lincoln County commissioner, Varlin Higbee, has allocated $250,000 in what are scarce funds. “We have planned and staged enough to handle 30,000 to 40,000 people,” Higbee said. “We don’t know how many will come for sure.”