BurniLeaks: Anonymous Reveals Police Art Car

Police and Thieves, in the Streets. The streets of Black Rock City. Is this why local authorities need to hike their take? One of them got an art car, and now all of them need one?

police art car

From Anonymous:

Dear friends,

What you’re looking at is the BLM’s (Bureau of Land Management) undercover art car at Burning Man.

For the moment, I’m going to refrain from posting these photos publicly.

However, I can assure you that this vehicle was brought here by a law enforcement agency, explicitly for undercover use at Burning Man.

I would like this information to be disseminated as widely as possible among people attending Burning Man this year.

Please spread the word — but please omit where you heard it from. Thank you.

Thank you,

Of course, this could just be a clever guerilla marketing campaign for someone’s Kickstarter project. Still Burners beware, let’s be careful out there.

37 comments on “BurniLeaks: Anonymous Reveals Police Art Car

  1. Pingback: BREAKING! BurniLeaks: The New Scalpers | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

    • All,

      For what it’s worth. The vehicle above has been coming to the event for three years mainly under the name “Uncle Sam’s Saloon”. Neither did the the owners try to hide the fact that they are associated with the BLM (its noted in their application that this was the BLM VIP tour vehicle) nor did they receive any special consideration or treatment by the DMV because they were associated with the BLM. Their application went through the same licensing process as all the Mutant vehicles go through – It was reviewed by a group of volunteer burners like myself and the consensus was that the vehicle as a whole met the criteria for a license.

      It should also be noted out that the photo above is NOT the entire vehicle as the complete vehicle includes a horse mounted in front of that vehicle and, a large mutated trailer/bar towed behind that were all part of the overall vehicle that was considered by the DMV. What is shown above is about 1/3 of the complete vehicle.

      Whether they are ‘undercover’ in any way or whether the vehicle is used for purposes beyond normal Mutant vehicle operation I couldn’t speak to because I don’t know, but in terms of whether their Mutant Vehicle application was given special treatment in any way by the the Org or by association, the DMV, I can speak to and the answer is a definitive no. No quid pro quo, no winks or special handshakes. We just review the applications and come to a consensus on whether it meets the criteria or not.

      While none of that addresses the main assertion of the article above, I would suggest that what would be more helpful to those reading the thread would be an example of persons associated with the vehicle being involved in an actual bust or negative activity. As noted, the vehicle has been coming for three years and, at least as far as the DMV is concerned, there have not received any negative reports about this vehicle. Not saying negative things haven’t occurred, but also note that no actual negative interactions with this vehicle are mentioned in this article or thread of responses.

      Hope that at least provides some clarity on questions related to the DMV aspect.

      -Chef Juke
      Burning since 1994
      Volunteer DMV Hottie since 2003

  2. I think it is important to welcome any cops you see. Personally I always say “HELLO OFFICER!!!” In my loudest, happiest voice when ever I see them. I also like to help them be seen so they can help anybody that needs help. Whenever I see them cruising though a camp or even just a big party in the deep playa I encourage everyone to shine their flashlights on them so that, again, if anyone needs their help they will be easy to find. This tends to work best with a headlamp. Don’t shine in their eyes as that would be rude. Just shine on their lower body and legs. Spread the word and let’s help them be seen. Another thing I do to help any undercover cops is if anyone asks me for drugs I yell out as loud as I can “HEY EVERYBODY! THIS GUY IS LOOKING FOR DRUGS!!! DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE TO GET SOME???” Please everyone join me in helping them. If you have a mutant vehicle you need to get one of those million candle power flashlights that plugs into a cigarette lighter. That way we can illuminate them when they are camped out with their lights off. That way no one will accidentally crash into them.

    • good advice. A couple of years ago, a young girl came up to me at my camp and said “have you got any X”. I pretended not to hear her: “sex? You want sex?”. “No”, she said. “X”. I looked puzzled. “Is that a drug thing?”, I asked. She was silent. I pointed a block away, there was a giant inflatable mushroom. I said “I think that mushroom is something to do with drugs, they probably know about it, go ask them”. She scowled and stormed off – in the opposite direction, away from the mushroom.

  3. never been to burning man, but I gotta ask “where is the love?” the commenters here seem to be an unhappy lot.

  4. Pingback: Police at Burning Man | Ignite.me |

  5. If it is a law enforcement vehicle I say “good on ’em” for trying to get with the spirit of the event and participate a bit more through this attempt at art. If you zoom in and read the sign on the back it does look like some of the verbage for BLM Rangers about protecting cultural resources, it’s also dated for 2011.

    I’ve met lots of BLM Rangers, Sherriffs and other law enforcement officers at Burning Man over the years. Some have been unpleasant and some have been fabulous. The most meaningful encounter I had was holding space for a small group of BLM officers as they went to the Temple to put up a memorial for a friends and former officer.

    One of the local police we work with at our Regional Burn attended Burning Man several years ago. That’s been a very positive thing for us since he has at least a passing understanding of our culture. He has been an excellent resource for us and his officers have served our community well when needed. So, yes, this gives me a different perspective on law enforcement. As an event organizer I have deeply appreciated their assistance on a few occasions.

    And as a long time Burner, I prepare to deal with police each year on playa although my encounters have been rare.. That first prep for me is to remember that they are also humans, also potential participants. The second step for me is to take responsibility for my own choices and actions, know the possible outcomes and move forward. Yup, I’ll be checking the taillights etc. on my rental car before I leave Reno Sunday.

    • I try to remember that they’re also human, but it’s hard when they are constantly shifting into their reptilian forms. I understand that a lot of it can be because of the pysychedelics (shrooms being the most conducive to catching glimpses of their lizard forms, 2-CB also good, LSD takes like 10 hits.) But even when I’ve been sober, they can’t seem to help themselves, which I attribute to the heavy presence of crystals, orgonite, Tesla tech, and collective psyche-driven ambient electricity.

      These guys seem to pick up on the fact that people can see their true forms momentarily, and it seems to anger, annoy, and confuse them. Like you said. don’t agitate them. don’t provoke them, and try to remember they’re also human. As fucking hard as that can be….

  6. Pingback: The Spark of Controversy | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  7. Can’t you come up with something better than unsubstantiated rumors from Anonymous? Your site is still pathetic.

  8. 2011 I saw a dark cop van with a few outline LED lights – that’s all. They’d cruise up to a party and 6 cops w/ guns would disperse. I don’t mind the ones that look like cops – If they start wearing pink hair and tutu’s – that’s when I’m nervous 😉

  9. I say we ask them for rides and turn them in immediately to rangers and to DMV for allowing art vehicles like that one to get into the system. I may not this year got enough of that in the real cities and states.

  10. It amazes me that this “radically mutated” vehicle that “shows little or no resemblance to their original form, or to any standard street vehicle” was approved by the DMV for a license. Yet amazing feats of mechanical and electrical engineer like Don Utilipants Lurve’ Seat get denied. Just one more sign of the — you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours – mentality that runs rampant through the BMorg. High five DMV for joining the new Burner culture of corporate corruption!

    • I have a feeling that they can go to the dmv and say “put the sticker there”. They don’t have to get approval, probably part of the contract for ‘letting’ us be there.

      • As a longtime member of the DMV (and the person who is responsible for writing the majority of the ‘not accepted’ letters to the Mutant vehicle owners’, I strongly reject the implication that the DMV either does quid pro quo approvals or just puts stickers on vehicles because of requests from LEOS.

        All applications are reviewed by consensus by a group of DMV volunteers, most of whom are Mutant Vehicle creators. There is no one person who approves a vehicle. When reviewing we discuss what was presented in the application and how well what’s there meets the MV criteria we work hard to be fair in assessing all of the myriad of different creations that people submit.

        Each year we receive around 1,000 applications and can only license about half of the applications we receive. That means that any number of people with wonderful art cars or other vehicles that they worked hard to create will not get licenses. Trying to do this in a fair and reasoned way is what we attempt with each and every application we review.

        If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of the DMV, or want to join the review sessions to see for yourself how it is done, and determine if it is fair or not, you are welcome to email us at dmv@burningman.com and we can arrange to have you join us for review sessions…and you can be part of helping us decide what vehicles pass muster and deserve to be licensed as Mutant Vehicles.


        -Chef Juke,
        Burner since 1994
        DMV Volunteer since 2003

      • Burnersxxx,
        Well it’s important to start with the understanding that Black Rock City is primarily a pedestrian and bicycle city. With the population of BRC reaching around 60,000, for safety concerns alone there needs to be a limit to the numbers of vehicles being driven at the event. So this means that less than 1% of the overall population of BRC are able to bring Mutant Vehicles to the event. So, as I mentioned before, the DMV can only license about one half of the 1,000+ vehicles that apply each year. Of the vehicles that are licensed, some are licensed for DAY only, some for NIGHT only. But overall, the limits mean that a significant number of the applicants cannot get invites. It’s not that there is a lack of appreciation for the amount of time and effort that each owner puts into making their vehicle, it’s that given the limits we work within, we have to draw the line somewhere and with more and more exceptional vehicles applying each year, each year the bar gets raised from the preceding year. This means there will likely always be well-made, cool vehicles which will not make the cut each year, not for lack of trying, but by virtue of being in a field of exceptional competition for a limited number of slots.

    • RockStar,

      Just for your info, the vehicle you mentioned, Lurveseat , while initially not accepted, it was subsequently approved after the owner presented more information regarding the vehicle in his appeal.

      -Chef Juke

      • Hey Chef,

        If you’re presenting yourself as a representative of DMV, why were there so many crappy “art” cars out there last year that only had the exterior body panels removed?

        I saw lots of Japanese compact cars like this, just cruising around. Temporarily removing the doors, fenders and hood does not an art car make. Is this how far standards have declined?

      • Señor Spamdump,

        First off, yes, I am a volunteer with the DMV and a member of the DMV Council.

        Next, it’s impossible to give you a simple answer to what you saw as “Crappy Art Cars” without more info about the specific cars you saw and why you thought they didn’t deserve to be licensed.. If you want to read the criteria that the DMV uses to review Mutant Vehicle applications, they are here:


        THe DMV focuses on level of mutation more than artistic aesthetics, so there will always be some room for disagreement on what may be ‘crappy’ to different people and how much that plays into whether a vehicle ‘should’ be licensed.

        That being said, there are any number of vehicles that drive on the playa each year that may not meet the general Mutant Vehicle Criteria. These can fall into one of a few categories.

        1) Disabled Vehicles – Disabled Vehicle licenses are granted for persons with disabilities (must have a state-issued handicap placard) without a requirement for mutation or decoration. Some people DO decorate or mutate their vehicles, but they may not be to the level of other Mutant Vehicles we approve.

        2) Staff Vehicles – These aren’t licensed by the DMV, and again, may have varying degrees of mutation/decoration. Most of the Staff vehicles people see are golf carts, but there are a number of partially mutated vehicles that have staff licenses.

        3) Historic Art Cars – this is a special category for a handful of vehicles that have been participating in Burning Man consistency for long before the DMV was created and are considered part of the creation of the tradition of art cars/mutant vehicles at the event. There is a criteria for them (had to be coming to the event prior to a certain year and been coming for a number of years in succession). Harrod Blank’s ‘O My God’ fits into this category. The Death Guild crew fits into a subset of this, Because of their history, they are allowed ‘Parade Licenses’ which allows them to only drive their vehicles together, en masse, for special events.

        4) Vehicles that are driven without licenses. Every year any number of people decide to drive without licenses (or drive in the daytime, when the DMV only granted them a license for NIGHT based on their lighting plan). The rangers and LEOS do tend to stop folks when they catch them, but it still happens (especially during burn nights).

        5) The DMV misses some. Sometimes a vehicle that is borderline will get licensed. Maybe the DMV Hotties doing the final inspection are newer or swayed by something other than the actual level of mutation of the vehicle….it happens…not too often I don’t believe, but it does.

        I strongly suggest that if you (or anyone) wants to either know more about the DMV, how it does what it does, who’s involved and how to volunteer (if you’re interested) that you come visit the DMV on the playa. It’s also a great place to hang out and see the Mutant Vehicles as they come in for inspection (especially fun at night).

        Additionally, If you have more questions or want to know about specific vehicles you have concerns about, I’d strongly suggest emailing the DMV directly at dmv@burningman.com.


        -Chef Juke

  11. As far as art cars go – it’s pretty well cheap and ugly looking … relatively blatant I’d say.

  12. thanks for the heads up.
    also….don’t be a fuck up on the playa, and it’s smooth sailing. this recipe has worked for me the past 5 years, and this trend will probably continue.

  13. If you’re not doing anything wrong just enjoy and don’t worry about it. If so, the law is sadly the law in this case. Vacation out of the country. Just because you’re in the middle of the desert doesn’t give you the right to break laws. I love freedom of expression but it is what it is. Move on.

    • Unfortunately, there’s a huge gap between what’s illegal and what’s unethical (for example, drug use). If you don’t ever do anything that others frown upon, then bully for you. But don’t stick your nose in the conversation and tell us to vacation somewhere else when we try to make sure we don’t suffer permanent consequences for an action that we don’t find wrong but someone else does. You sound like a judgmental, insufferable bore. YOU go vacation somewhere else.

    • In the state of Nevada police have fairly unlimited power. It is a state loaded with corruption from top to bottom. Police regularly violate the law in order to arrest someone and go on to lie in the police report. I’ve listened to state officials discuss the necessity of all their arrests and fines in order to fund the police force and the rest of the dirty machine. They violate the 4th Amendment regularly. How the violation of our first 10 rights is acceptable to so many of ‘merica’s sheeple in order to arrest someone for a little baggie in their pocket is rather unsettling.

      Most laws aren’t there to keep you safe. They’re there to enforce control and profit off of other’s misery. The punishment from today’s legal system rarely fits the crime. How many lives are going to be ruined in the name of public safety? Doesn’t really make sense while we ship young men off to murder people on sovereign soil in the name of “freedom”. Thanks for being part of the problem.

  14. Is there more pics that are gonna be leaked before the burn, showing what art cars they have, or is this it? I’ve seen plenty in my 7 years on the playa. My favorite was in 2008 the spead boat that had 30 copse blatently stairing at me. I gave them the middle finger and laughed. I also added a “you guys can do better than that”.

    • I camped down the road from some cops with a speed boat in their camp in 2011. They seemed nice enough and always seemed doped up but were really obvious when they would come up and ask people if they wanted drugs. Also, their 24-hour DJ wasn’t the greatest.

  15. It’s for real… I was shown original pic, by original source, on original photo-taking device, and heard the evidence that it was a law enforcement vehicle.

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