Crackdown at Burning Man The Art Festival Reminds Us About Our Rights

We created a way of life where we work to pay our living expenses, when everything in nature used to be free. Unfortunately, in a free and safe society, we must have rules and regulations – laws, desirable or not. Even Burning Man Festival, an annual hippie gathering in the desert of Nevada, has its own rules too. Burning Man participants follow ten principles, of which “Leave no trace’ is the most important. It is quite a different world at the Burning Man. It’s free of advertisements, corporate brands and money exchange. It is interesting to see the abundance of generosity among the ‘Burners’ when money does not exist.

This year, the Burning Man art festival became more cautious about radical self-expression, due to an increase in tough security by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Back in 2012, Black Rock City LLC, the parent company of the Burning Man, sued Pershing County for infringing First Amendment rights and for imposing higher county fees. Burning Man was able to protect its member’s rights in court, but this year it was a police state at Black Rock City. Law Enforcement authorities targeted Burning Man participants with any pretexts they could find, such as speeding over 5 miles an hour on the playa, DUI – even while driving the very slow art cars – and the perennial favorite, drug violations. There were about 350 citations in 2012. While the number of arrests this year is unknown as yet, there were 64 officers on duty according to Special Agent Dan Love of the Bureau of Land Management.

The only advice we can offer is to obey the laws and learn your rights. Check your tail lights, buckle your seat belts, stay sober while driving, keep your auto registration up-to-date, and resist any temptation to drive over the speed limit not just in Pershing County but anywhere you are driving.

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