Business Insider Comments on Police Presence at Burning Man 2013

Burning Man continues to get lots of coverage in the mainstream global financial press. This one in Business Insider was published while we were out on the Playa. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

cops pony

we used this photo because it looked like cops riding around on an art car and enjoying Burning Man. On closer inspection, maybe they’re not cops. The owner of the art car contacted us to clarify that she is not part of the police or LEO community. Also, the art car might be coming up for sale soon.

The freedom-loving hippie “burners” attending the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nev. this week may believe they’re communing in a happy cocoon with no laws.

In reality, undercover federal agents from all over the West are swarming the “temporary community” as they do every year and busting people for doing or selling drugs, local attorney and former cop Arnold Brock tells Business Insider. These agents do whatever they can to fit in at the 50,000-person festival, which Brock called a “unique event” that’s kind of like Woodstock.

Last year we had an undercover agent dressed up as catwoman,” Brock says. “They will do whatever they do to … ferret out what they are considering criminal activity.”

Brock has an entire page on his website devoted to the “Burning-Man Related Arrests” that can happen to out-of-towners attending the festival. The festival goers might have their guard down and could be easy targets.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for undercover agents to go have a little fun and work a limited geographic area,” Brock says. “And that is exactly what they do.”

In some cases, Brock says, federal agents will even follow vehicles involved in larger drug deals from out of state and bust them once they arrive at Burning Man. Last year, 350 people were arrested there, according to the Reno Gazette.

Some burners have accused the cops of being overzealous in recent years. Festival attendees have complained about undercover female agents explicitly asking male burners for drugs as well as drug dogs brazenly roaming the camps, the Associated Press reported back in 2010.

Federal officials, however, said Burning Man needs to be policed.

“I don’t want my guys to be party poopers, but we have a job to do,” Mark Pirtle, special agent in charge for the Bureau of Land Management, told the AP. “[Festival goers] are not bad people, but they like to use drugs.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/federal-agents-swarming-burning-man-2013-8#ixzz2eGeyHDc2

UPDATE: Reno news KRNV Ask Joe: How many crimes occur at Burning Man ?

See video here: http://nevadastatepersonnelwatch.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/2013-burning-man-police-state-on-the-playa-state-fed-law-enforcement-law-enforcement-1-officer-to-every-1000-participants/

Question:
Patty Gordon wrote in saying she has heard there are many serious crimes committed at Burning Man and she wants to know if that’s true ?

Answer:
Patty, Pershing County is considered the lead law enforcement agency when it comes to Burning Man. I checked with Sheriff Machado in Pershing County. He did not have complete numbers but I did a get partial list. There are 50 investigative cases which are now open and being investigated. Machado says the crimes reported at burning man this year included open and gross lewdness, twelve sexual assaults, battery and various property crimes and DUI. A total of 15 people were taken to jail. Keep in mind there are more than 60,000 people up there for burning man, but there clearly are crimes being committed during the festival.

9 comments on “Business Insider Comments on Police Presence at Burning Man 2013

  1. The quote actually says, “In 2012, there were about 350 arrests and citations during the event”, the bulk of which were citations. The were very few arrests as I recall.

  2. Curious why my art car is being used here. I’m a web developer not a cop. But, maybe this could work to my advantage on the playa. So thanks. I guess.

  3. Before ling given the direction the event is going-increasingly mainstream with an emphasis on attracting wealthy elites-only subscribers to business periodicals will be able to afford to attend.

    Burning Man is dead. In its place sits a bloated, commercial, corporate entity meant to enrich the Bmorg. It’s unfortunate that cold hard lucre corrupts so thoroughly. It takes watchful eyes to avoid this taint-something the Bmorg do not possess despite Harvey’s apparent desire to be some kind of messiah.

    Oh well, at least you won’t need so many police!

  4. I wonder if they use the same level of policing at other events and in other cities with higher crime rates per capita in the state? Seems the presence at Burning Man is higher than any other place or time in the state. Not sure other places see cars pulled over and emptied for partially obscured license plate or going one mile over a speed limit.

  5. Pingback: 2013 Burning Man = Police State on the playa State, fed law enforcement law enforcement 1 officer to every 1,000 participants | Nevada State Personnel Watch

  6. UPDATE: Reno news KRNV Ask Joe: How many crimes occur at Burning Man ?

    See video here: http://nevadastatepersonnelwatch.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/2013-burning-man-police-state-on-the-playa-state-fed-law-enforcement-law-enforcement-1-officer-to-every-1000-participants/

    Question:
    Patty Gordon wrote in saying she has heard there are many serious crimes committed at Burning Man and she wants to know if that’s true ?

    Answer:
    Patty, Pershing County is considered the lead law enforcement agency when it comes to Burning Man. I checked with Sheriff Machado in Pershing County. He did not have complete numbers but I did a get partial list. There are 50 investigative cases which are now open and being investigated. Machado says the crimes reported at burning man this year included open and gross lewdness, twelve sexual assaults, battery and various property crimes and DUI. A total of 15 people were taken to jail. Keep in mind there are more than 60,000 people up there for burning man, but there clearly are crimes being committed during the festival.

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