This year's Burning Man in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, may seem like the best place in the world to go if you want to live free and forget about all your troubles in the real world, but festival goers are realizing that escaping to the middle of the desert for a week of partying and hedonism is not as carefree and easy as they may have thought. This year, the world famous festival has seen a significantly higher police presence than previous outings and certainly a much more aggressive approach to the patrons.
The result has caused outrage among those attending the festival who feel the police are are violating their civil rights. Unfortunately for them, no matter where you are in the U.S., and unless stated otherwise, it's STILL against the law to carry, distribute and consume illegal narcotics and also commit other misdemeanor crimes. And yes, that also means in the middle of nowhere.
According to tweets coming from the site, the police are "badge heavy," with one person going into detail, stating, “The pigs are here. And uncommonly badge heavy. Earlier tonight, the #BLM pulled over El Couchino for a registration violation. In 18 years on the playa, I’ve never seen a more aggressive police presence than what’s been going down today. Deeply upsetting, outrageous stuff. One DPW member was issued a $275 ticket for urinating on the playa, and threatened with being forced to register as a convicted sex offender. (a note for people not familiar with Burning Man, the “Playa” is what Burning Man attendees or “Burners” call the land that this event is held on.) I suspect this is fallout from the lawsuit BMORG won against the BLM earlier this year. Whatever the cause, know this: Law enforcement is going to be VERY AGGRESSIVE at Burning Man this year. Keep your shit as right as you do back in the world. Don’t give them any excuses. Be extremely cautious, and MAKE SURE TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Things are changing. #BM2013 #LEO #police IF YOU DO GET STOPPED: Make sure to file an incident report with Burning Man. And before you get here, LEARN YOUR RIGHTS.”
Now, whether or not this is true, this is not new when it comes to events like these. Ravers and club goers have had to deal with a heavy police presence at events since they first came into the public eye. And what did they expect? The police just to stand around the edges of the festival, behind the fence, while over 10,000 people broke laws in front of them? Well, it turns out that, yes, they did.
A spokesman from "Reform In Our Time," a group based at Burning Man, stated, “Our demands are simple: We want law enforcement excluded….. The problem is a huge growth in outside law enforcement officers invading the playa, not the money it costs. We would really appreciate them if they stayed outside and only came in when we really wanted them to. If the cops would leave their badges and guns at home and just be burners like everyone else in BRC, we’d welcome them just like we welcome anyone else. We’d even build them a Donut Camp! We’re not against cops necessarily, we just don’t want outsiders doing law enforcement in our city. We have everything we need to take care of it ourselves without any outside help!”
Burning Man released an official statement preparing everyone for the heavy police presence and warned them to keep in line with local laws. This, by the way, is the same message and laws that millions of other club goers have to respect every week across the globe.
Here is a message from all of us ravers to the people at Burning Man: If ever there was a sign that increased popularity is not only a good thing, this is it. Welcome to the wonderful world of commercialism and popularity, burners. Things will never be the same again!