Summer Burkes has written a really good article at The Ladies Guide to the Apocalypse about the interactions between law enforcement and Black Rock City. The general consensus for Caravansary seems to be that Burner/LEO relations greatly improved after BMOrg settled their lawsuit against Pershing County.
We’re proud of our Gate and Rangers for offsetting so many of the more minor duties police are forced to deal with in the real world but not here, such as traffic control and too-drunk people. This shows the real world a different model of non-interference and enhanced social contracts… Law enforcement is certainly enforcing the law, but with an enhanced understanding between the parties. The XRT (External Relations Team) has been working all year with Burning Man’s police and BLM, and no jinx, but our relationship seems to be better than ever…
Cop Whispering is a thing in the Cacophony Society, and a very important thing at that. Cop Whispering is a cute name for a serious skill requiring a sober person with a competent and respectful attitude.
In the Cacophony Society and its outlying (and sometimes unwitting) spokes-shows like Cyclecide and the Life-Size Mousetrap, we always designate a Cop Whisperer. This person is THE person who talks to the cops…
Imagine you’re a police officer answering an unknown-intruder call in San Francisco in the ‘90s. Scenario one: You walk into an abandoned building, where crazy freaks seem to be dining in full formal attire at a candlelight banquet, the contents of which all seem to have been carried in by hand. You, policeperson with off-the-chart adrenaline washing through your system as always, are ambushed by most of these kooks, who all get up from the table to start speaking to you at once, making jokes and snapping flash cameras. Some drunk idiot starts yelling platitudes about knowing his rights. Cringe and duck, right?
Scenario two: You, policeperson, respond to the call in the same abandoned building, where amidst the dust, broken glass, and a strange full-formal banquet table, a group of weirdoes are calmly and quietly sitting in a circle on the ground, with their empty hands resting visibly on their knees. One of these people is in a gorilla suit, inexplicably. You, cop, are approached by one person — the designated Cop Whisperer. You, cop with heart pounding and adrenals pumping, not knowing what you were just walking into, are overjoyed to see a circle of weirdoes? maybe art students? or whatever, AND a gorilla suit guy, sitting in a circle why? are they a weird religion or … ? and for heaven’s sake you, cop, may even be laughing by the time the Cop Whisperer talks to you.
See the difference?
The rules for Cop Whispering are simple. Realize that most cops are sometimes-scared, sometimes-vulnerable, flesh-and-blood people doing their best to serve and protect society. One person talks to the law enforcement and others do NOT gather around — a crowd makes anyone feel outnumbered and threatened. Don’t lie to law enforcement, don’t be nervous, and don’t taunt them (doy). Treat them like humans, not Terminators…
As we continue our policy of being friendly and open to law enforcement out here, let’s not forget to invite them to participate as well. The BLM and local officers are as much a part of the Burning Man community as they want to be. Those who are a part of this community, and not on the outside looking in, are protective of this community…
we — all of us — have been practicing building a brand new society and interaction-based reality out here. What we do and learn and make up at Burning Man radiates out into the larger world, and we’ve got a real chance to show everyone how we shine together. We all want to make America mean something great again.
We know, what lamely sappy notion, but we’re feeling it. Dusty punk rockers, techno-ravers, and machine-art freaks are out here working on it.
Read the full story at summerburkes.com
It’s probably not a bad idea for every camp and every party to designate a Cop Whisperer or two…just in case.