Lawgives has put together this Free Legal Guide. It’s a great list of legal tips for all Burners to benefit from, big thanks to Lawgives and all the Reddit contributors.
Lawgives says: Know your legal rights, and have an amazing burn! (Inspired by a thread on Reddit. Compiled from sources and resources listed below) Wikipedia Burning Man Official Site (Preparation) Burning Man Official Site (Rangers) Burning Man Official Site (Environment) ACLU Nevada Governmentattic
Infographic compiled by Lawgives from governmentattic.org
- Remember these magic words: “I am going to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer.“
- Always be calm and respectful when interacting with a police officer. If you believe your rights are being violated, clearly state that and then contest the officer’s actions in court.
- Never consent to a search and seizure of your (or another’s!) body, possessions, car, or dwelling.
- If a police officer sees it, they can seize it. Be sure to conceal all of your private possessions.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Assert your right to have an attorney present before you give an officer any information other than your name.
- Contribute to the further success of Burning Man by being a good citizen of Black Rock City.
On your way to burning man, or whilst on the playa, police officers may stop you. Always be courteous and refer to the police as “Officer”.
Say: “Hello officer. Please can you tell me why I am being stopped?” They may say, “Why do you think I stopped you?” Tell the officer you don’t know. You always have the right to have a lawyer present before answering a police officer’s questions (beyond your name/identification).
Do not apologize after you get stopped – this could later be used against you in court.
If you are pulled over in a car, turn your car off, roll down the window, and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Allow officers to see your hands. Don’t reach into your glove compartment for your license and registration.
You may only be going by your burning man name, but law enforcement may still inquire about your identity.
If there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal involvement, you have to identify yourself with your real name, as displayed on your ID. Note that it may be useful to carry your ID on the playa, as camps will require it before serving you alcohol. If you are a non-US citizen visiting on a visa, you could consider carrying your passport. A copy may be safer, but not all camps will accept it as a proof of age when serving alcohol.
If you are operating a vehicle, you must provide ID when asked. Remain calm and quiet while the officer is reviewing your documents. If the officer writes you a ticket, accept it quietly and never complain. Listen to any instruction on paying the fine or contesting the ticket, and immediately leave. Tickets should be contested in traffic court, not in a face to face interaction with the police officer.
Never consent to a search of your person, car, RV, camp or tent. Simply say: “Officer, I do not consent to a search.” Say no more, no less. You are under no obligation to consent to a search. Keep any private items that you don’t want others to see out of sight. Police do not need a search warrant in order to confiscate any illegal items that are in plain view. The only reason an officer asks your permission is because he doesn’t have enough evidence to search without your consent. If you consent to a search request you give up one of the most important constitutional rights you have: your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Make sure EVERYONE in your camp knows these rules as well. Law enforcement can ask the other people in your car or camp for permission to search. Never consent to the search of anyone else’s property. You should all sing the same song: “I do not consent to a search.” Even if they threaten you with arrest, or threaten you with bringing a sniffing dog, continue to say “I do not consent to a search”. Even while they are searching you or your stuff, you guessed it, “I do not consent to a search”.
When an officer has lawfully stopped you, they may proceed to pat down your outer clothing for the purposes of detecting concealed weapons that may pose a safety risk to the officer. This is called the “stop and frisk” exception to the warrant requirement. During the patdown, a police officer is allowed to seize any other evidence, such as a concealed drug container, that can be felt through your clothing.
If you find yourself in a “stop and frisk” situation there are a few things you can do.
- Remain calm. Please try to remember that yelling at a police officer or posing any sort of additional threat to the officer will not help your case.
- Keep asserting your rights. It’s always okay to continually keep stating that you did not consent to a search of your person. This can dramatically increase your chances of the evidence being thrown out in court.
Always keep your burning man home closed when you are not there. If possible, use a lock. You may want to use a cover to block transparent windows, so that curious bypassers cannot look inside. If you close your resting place, law enforcement needs a warrant to open it or your consent. If law enforcement presents a warrant, comply, and seek help from a lawyer. If no warrant is presented, say “I do not consent to a search.” Anyone that has routine access to your dwelling can give consent for a search, so make sure to share this guide with them!
If you’re being detained, questioned or otherwise restricted in your movements, ask the law enforcement agent whether you are free to go. Calmly keep asking “Am I free to go?” until you get to yes. As soon as you are told that you are free to go, walk away. If you are told that you are not free to go, ask whether you are being arrested. Unless they say yes, ask whether you’re free to go. Repeat as necessary.
If you are being arrested (a good way to know is being told: “You are under arrest.”), or you think you have been arrested, immediately say the following: “Officer, I’d like to remain silent and I’d like to speak with a lawyer.” Then, contact a lawyer.
Do not physically resist a search or an arrest. You may state clearly but non-confrontationally: “Officer, I am not resisting arrest and I do not consent to any searches.”
Do not volunteer any other information. You have nothing to gain. You may be told that cooperation will make things easier for you, and many people hope to be let off easy if they are honest and direct with the police. Do not let the threat of arrest scare you into admitting guilt. Don’t say anything to anyone but your lawyer. Now that you’ve invoked it, use your right to remain silent.
There will be undercover police officers in Black Rock City, so obey the law. If you are running a bar, verify the ID of any individuals that you are serving. Even if you don’t have a bar, don’t give alcohol to anyone without asking for an ID to verify their age. If anyone asks you about drugs, remember: you don’t know about drugs, you don’t have drugs, you don’t use drugs and you certainly never supply drugs. Only at burning man might you end up being arrested by an LED-clad hula hooping undercover agent with angel wings. Don’t let it happen to you.
Report issues to the Black Rock Rangers. These rangers act as “non-confrontational community mediators, providers of reliable information, facilitators of public safety (with the expectation that everybody read the back of their ticket, of course!), and navigators of the edge of chaos.” You can recognize the rangers by their khaki uniforms which sport the Burning Man logo on their uniforms.
If you have any complaints about interactions with law enforcement, directly or indirectly, you can report them by using the Law Enforcement Feedback Form. Try to remember the name and badge number of the officer. Law Enforcement Feedback Forms are available online, at Center Camp, ACLU camp or from Black Rock Rangers.
So you want to fly your drone at burning man? Great idea, but you should know that Burning Man maintains a policy and requires registration for Remote Control Aircraft in and around Black Rock City (RCBRC). The FAA requires that all operators of remote control aircraft flying within 5 miles of an airport notify that airport. Because almost all of Black Rock City is within 5 miles of Black Rock City Municipal Airport, registration is a requirement. Some key rules of operation include:
- Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground.
- No First Person View flying (no flying based upon video stream, rather than direct sight).
- Keep 100 feet horizontal separation away from everything.
- No operating RC aircraft while intoxicated.
Be mindful of and adapt Burning Man’s Leave No Trace Ethic. Campfires are not allowed, because they erode the land. The organization has also decided that “it is not fair to dogs nor participants to allow them at the event”. If you do bring a pet to the playa outside of the Burning Man event, make certain to remove their waste. The organizers also recommend these common sense ways in which to minimize your impact:
- Avoid travelling and camping in large groups.
- Do not travel off trails or roads, to avoid damage to soil and vegetation.
- Do not leave human waste and garbage at a campsite.
- Do not wear brightly colored gear and clothes that make you visible.
You may, during the course of Burning Man, meet some people who completely transform the way you think about a problem that the world is facing. It may be that you have some unique skillset that could support the development of their idea. Perhaps you have an idea that you are looking to share with others.
Whether your idea could be a for profit business, a non-profit organization, or something in-between, check out LawGives.com when you get back from the burn for guidance on taking things forward.
This guide was inspired by a thread on Reddit. Other sources and resources are listed below.
Don’t rely on this guide alone, it is intended only as useful information. To get legal advice for your situation, talk to a lawyer of your choice. This guide is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your rights.