Burning Man Shakedown by LEOs.

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Burning Man Shakedown by LEOs.

Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:36 pm

We've all heard this story many many many times from many burners on many forums. I have never had a ticket or been arrested while en-route or at Burning Man. That does not mean I am any less outraged by their intrusive and abusive treatment of our community.

The law enforcement at Burning Man is shaking us down. Months before the event they start by shaking down the BRC LLC by forcing them to PAY for more officers than are needed, desired, or requested.

Then they shake us down on the way to the event with speed traps, (god forbid you don't have a vehicle with cruise control and manage to drift 1 or 2 miles above speed limit.) Then they shake us down between the gate and when you turn down a spoke from the outer ring road, once again looking for any reason to pull somebody over, no matter how small or accidental the infraction. And then they search the vehicles, yet another attempt to shake us down.

Now you're at the event, and they are driving/walking past camps in SUV's, trucks, and go-carts looking into each camp's private structures as they slowly pass. In the hopes of an opportunity to shake down some more people, and maybe even go for the shake down gold by finding probable cause for a drug dog through the residences of your camp.

Look at the 7:30 spoke in 2009, when police ran a sweep for liquor law violations. They fined camp after camp one night for HUGE shakedown bucks for serving an undercover without being asked his age.

Look at Quixotes Cabaret 2010, a camp almost entirely of Europeans who have limited expectations of 4th and 5th amendment protections. Midweek the entire cabaret was surrounded and EVERY PERSON PRESENT was SEARCHED. That is COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY unjustifiable no matter WHAT your viewpoint on law enforcement at the event is. All in the name of shakedown opportunity.

Then comes the night of the burn when they circle like pack wolves around the outside of the crowd waiting for the man to begin burning. Peering into every bag opened (yes, actually walking up to people fishing in their bags for chap-stick or whatever, shining their own light in to see the contents.) If somebody sits on the ground they rush over and stand over the person, flashlight out once again, to check out what this person is doing. All for another shakedown opportunity. It is intrusive, and no, not everybody is comfortable having somebody with a gun and near limitless authority to destroy your life inspecting your every movement.

We ARE being ABUSED, and TARGETED. And I really think it is time that the BRC LLC consider moving Burning Man somewhere that would welcome us, not treat us like criminals deserving of such terrible treatment. If Washoe and Pershing don't want our revenue stream perhaps it is time to accept bids for Burning Man's location after the current contract expires. I'm sure many a cash strapped California, Oregon, Nevada counties would LOVE to have us, and we can assert reasonable numbers and conduct by LEOs in the contract.
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Postby Elderberry » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:42 pm

We must live in alternate realities.

JK
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:47 pm

jkisha wrote:We must live in alternate realities.

JK


I wished I lived in yours, because I can't pretend this stuff isn't happening. LEOs truly have the power to destroy each and every one of our lives on a whim, regardless of actual guilt. Every encounter with a LEO is like a game of Russian roulette. There is very little any of us as individuals can do to right a wrong decision by a LEO.

It is of course paranoia on my part to be so concerned when I don't run afoul of the law. But honestly, whether or not you've done something illegal doesn't mean that the Law Enforcement Officer with your fate in his/her hands can't make the next few minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years hell for you on a whim.
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Postby Elderberry » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:53 pm

This was my fifth burn and the 7th for my partner and the 13th, 14th and 15th burns for several of our camp mates. None of us has ever gotten a ticket on the way to or from the burn or had an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement. Personally, I treat them almost like any other burner out there and those I have encountered have responded in kind.

So, like I said--alternate reality here.

JK
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:55 pm

jkisha wrote:This was my fifth burn and the 7th for my partner and the 13th, 14th and 15th burns for several of our camp mates. None of us has ever gotten a ticket on the way to or from the burn or had an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement. Personally, I treat them almost like any other burner out there and those I have encountered have responded in kind.

So, like I said--alternate reality here.

JK


I truly hope that your outlook never comes back to haunt you.

I truly hope you never have a LEO in your camp's kitchen after a visitor unaffiliated with your camp left the butt of a joint on a table or chair.

I truly hope that you're not standing too close to somebody who is rummaging through their bag at the burning of the man and accidentally drops something illegal on the ground which the LEOs claim fell from your pocket.

I truly hope you don't use a porta-potty after somebody who just smoked a bowl in it, only to find yourself face to face when you come out with a LEO who uses the smell as probable cause to search your bag.

I truly hope none of your family, camp mates, or friends, are ever brutally attacked by uniformed officers for accidentally talking to them at the Nexus. ( http://bm.tribe.net/thread/d65358fd-c7a ... 0b543db92e )

I truly hope your never pulled over for drinking diet coke in it's silver beer like can and have your entire car turned inside out while driving from the gate to your camp.

I truly hope you never find yourself in a camp's public structure when the LEOs decide it is time to search every single bag on every single person present. (per 2010 Quixotes Cabaret)

It doesn't matter if it is has happened to YOU, it is wrong that these things happen at all to anybody. If you can't bother coming to the defense of others, perhaps you should consider coming to the defense of your future self that may face these circumstances.
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Postby oneeyeddick » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:06 pm

I gotta agree with MoistPup on this one.

Watching them watching Ein Hammer across several nights...

the neat thing is if they don't see anything in about 20 minutes, they move on, I think they have a quota of at least 1 citation every half hour to fill

....meanwhile, over at the potty banks halfway between esplanade and the Man on 3'oclock an officer with one of those heat sensor scopes is still watching the group, looking/waiting for someone to "fire it up".

BTW, I got a ticket (Negligent operation of vehicle) immediately after the Temple burn on sunday night, for doing what I had been doing all week...using the flame effects on my MV.

it scared him, therefore he found a way to write me a citation for it.
We have an obligation to make space for everyone, we have no obligation to make that space pleasant.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:14 pm

I've never had any trouble either.
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:16 pm

oneeyeddick wrote:
Watching them watching Ein Hammer across several nights...



I'm sure having them there "protecting and serving" made you feel very safe.

oneeyeddick wrote:....meanwhile, over at the potty banks halfway between esplanade and the Man on 3'oclock an officer with one of those heat sensor scopes is still watching the group, looking/waiting for someone to "fire it up".


As if illegal substances are the only thing that can be lit.

oneeyeddick wrote:BTW, I got a ticket (Negligent operation of vehicle) immediately after the Temple burn on sunday night, for doing what I had been doing all week...using the flame effects on my MV.

it scared him, therefore he found a way to write me a citation for it.


Sorry to hear. Are you going to fight it?
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:18 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:I've never had any trouble either.


Most people probably haven't had trouble. But that doesn't mean that they won't get their turn someday.

I hope a future you never regrets not having stood up for the community before you become a target of some LEO produced indignity.
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Postby Artemis » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:30 pm

It sounds like the best thing we can do is to spread the word to all that if you do have an experience (ANY experience) with LEO, then please, please, please, complete the LEO feedback form so that the org can address it in the aggregate, rather than one by one.



By the way, there are a few other threads on the same lines:
viewtopic.php?t=37176

viewtopic.php?t=37249


and a bunch more:
viewtopic.php?t=37080

viewtopic.php?t=37314

viewtopic.php?t=36904
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Postby Bob » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:39 pm

Never had any trouble at the Labor Day event or any other time of year since 1996.

Is this a pledge break? Where do I send my check?
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Postby Lassen Forge » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:48 pm

IMO Dick's run in was with a asshole fuckbat rookie cop who was also a rookie to the event, and thought he was on camera on COPS or something. I heard rumors he had mentioned how he fucking hated it out there... and there were some asshole noob cops out there this year. I only hope he won't volunteer to go next year. Or if he does he gets some bladder control... but I guess that Depends...

Not only have I had no trouble with LE... I've had awesome interactions with a few. Got some schwag from a BLM Ranger (a blinkie ranger mobile, very kewl shit), had a few stick their head in when I was hobbling back intp the bar on crutches (they asked if I was OK, if I needed anything - sure sounds like harassment to me) and then come back to my bar offduty for brews and vodka. (And BTW, I have a hookah in plain site in my joint, they basically ignored it).

Thing is... I realize they're out there, doing a job trying to get extra $$$ to make ends meet by scoring OT. True, some are asshole rookies wanting to "bust fucking doper hippie heads", but in general they're out there to be there just like you. No shit. I smile and wave. I go out and ask if they want to come in for a beer later. And ya know what? Most say no, but I've NEVER had one turn ugly on me. Why would they?

Then again, ya know my ex- was a sheriff here in California - so maybe I see thru the bullshit and treat them like humans.

You know my undercover Narc story, right? I work dispatch for Emergency Services (or I did at the time, anyway). This UC cop, looking like any other burner, shows up to get some paperwork from his dispatchers. He comes over, I remark how his garb is pretty cool, and hey, you wanna coke? Toss him one, and we sit there talking about my asshole ex and his ex wife... no biggie.

2 days later... I'm in my burner garb (not my professional yellows) , and same cop walks up to me asking if I had any "smoke". At first, I thought he wanted a cig, so I pulled out my pack of 'boros, and he said, "No, you know, Weed." I thought he was fracking with me until I realized he had NO idea who I was.

So I tell him (Jim or John or Julian or somesuch J name like that) "No, dude, but I do know where you can score some coke..." His eyes light up, he says "Can you get me some?" To which I reply...

"You can get it yourself - The fridge back in the Comm Shack, mine are the upside down cans in the door with my initials on the bottom..."

about a millisecond of processing this, and Realization hits. He turns about 100 shades of red, mumbles something about "having to go", and RAN from me. Didn't see him the rest of the burn... >>giggles<<

My general rule for cops (from my ex's best man, also a cop):
Treat them like humans, and we'll be there for you. Treat them like Pigs, they'll shit in your wallow and bite off your hand."
Good rules to survive by. And if you DO get an asshole testo-fuelled rookie - politeness always counts 100 points in your favor - put them in "help you out" mode, not "bust my stupid ass" mode, and they'll defuse 95 times out of 100. The other 5 will piss themselves when spooked by an awesome art car with flame effects...
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:12 pm

Bay Bridge Sue wrote:

Not only have I had no trouble with LE... I've had awesome interactions with a few. Got some schwag from a BLM Ranger (a blinkie ranger mobile, very kewl shit), had a few stick their head in when I was hobbling back intp the bar on crutches (they asked if I was OK, if I needed anything - sure sounds like harassment to me)

Good rules to survive by. And if you DO get an asshole testo-fuelled rookie - politeness always counts 100 points in your favor - put them in "help you out" mode, not "bust my stupid ass" mode, and they'll defuse 95 times out of 100. The other 5 will piss themselves when spooked by an awesome art car with flame effects...


Sue, I don't mean this to sound insulting... but... are you pretty? I bet you are, this story, and the other story about the Reservation officer that helped you out makes me think you're probably a good looking woman. I assure you that average to good looking women get better treatment then men do from Law Enforcement.

Police are just not that helpful... ever... unless you're an average to pretty woman.

I used to have a job with peace officer authority when I was in college and I know first hand that women often get special helpful attention, and more often than not do not get ticketed as compared to men doing the same thing. Now, I'm a gay guy, so that shit didn't sell with me, but I saw it plenty from my straight male coworkers. (I so preferred working with my female coworkers...)
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Postby AntiM » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:13 pm

1durphul wrote:
Ugly Dougly wrote:I've never had any trouble either.


Most people probably haven't had trouble. But that doesn't mean that they won't get their turn someday.

I hope a future you never regrets not having stood up for the community before you become a target of some LEO produced indignity.


I've never had problems, nor anyone who has ever camped with or near me.

I stick up for my community, but not for the folks paying the stupid tax. Honestly, I don't feel abused. When I lived in Iran and was followed by the Sha's secret police on every trip to the grocery store, or in Saudi when the Imans with switches followed us through the souk, ready to strike an exposed arm or ankle, that felt abusive. I do NOT think we're anywhere near that level of scrutiny. All a matter of perspective I suppose.
Read Me!! Ticket Sellers and Seekers!

Really, read the damn sticky posts.
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:16 pm

AntiM wrote:
I've never had problems, nor anyone who has ever camped with or near me.

I stick up for my community, but not for the folks paying the stupid tax. Honestly, I don't feel abused. When I lived in Iran and was followed by the Sha's secret police on every trip to the grocery store, or in Saudi when the Imans with switches followed us through the souk, ready to strike an exposed arm or ankle, that felt abusive. I do NOT think we're anywhere near that level of scrutiny. All a matter of perspective I suppose.


As a total and complete aside I had a friend who hooked up with an Iranian secret police officer sent to follow his gay ass' every move.
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Postby zorro sings » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:25 pm

This was our 11th year and have never seen so many cops.At our location on 4:30 it seemed almost oppresive as they paraded up and down the street.I mean we are used to seeing Pershing,Humboldt and Washoe County LEOS but what the hell was the Sheriff of Storey County doing there?
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:29 pm

zorro sings wrote:This was our 11th year and have never seen so many cops.At our location on 4:30 it seemed almost oppresive as they paraded up and down the street.I mean we are used to seeing Pershing,Humboldt and Washoe County LEOS but what the hell was the Sheriff of Storey County doing there?


It felt oppressive to me too which is why I made this thread. So many people on eplaya seem to think that police are cuddly kittens and that their badge and guns are there for costume purposes.

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Postby d6 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:44 pm

Zorro! - I heard only good things @ Verboten this year, and that you barely had to turn anyone away from Daft. sorry i couldn't see you personally this time....

as for Leos, I always saw them @ Hammer as well, but only what seemed to be the usual amount in the plaza, although they didn't seem to enjoy our mc too much this time around....i guess they didnt know he had been deputized after filling his Terminal arrest quota....
Image


and not one response to a well-crafted "depends" joke? - made me laugh...
your witty rejoinder just flew over my head.....

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Postby Homiesinheaven » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:34 pm

wow 1durphul, you sure sound bitter and disgruntled. i think you have lost all perspective on this issue. "LEOs truly have the power to destroy each and every one of our lives on a whim" hahaha geez dude, are you really serious? none of us here want more cops at BM but alarmist victim attitudes like yours arent going to make things better for anyone. like the vast majority of burners, i saw the cops, was friendly, didnt break any laws and steered clear of them. no problemo. almost every up-in-arms story of harassment i read comes from someone who is bitter and angry towards law enforcement before the incident even occurred.
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:31 pm

Homiesinheaven wrote:wow 1durphul, you sure sound bitter and disgruntled. i think you have lost all perspective on this issue. "LEOs truly have the power to destroy each and every one of our lives on a whim" hahaha geez dude, are you really serious? none of us here want more cops at BM but alarmist victim attitudes like yours arent going to make things better for anyone. like the vast majority of burners, i saw the cops, was friendly, didnt break any laws and steered clear of them. no problemo. almost every up-in-arms story of harassment i read comes from someone who is bitter and angry towards law enforcement before the incident even occurred.


I have never had a run in with cops. And I am exceedingly careful to avoid run-ins with cops.

I have friends who have though, and 15 years later are still paying for it. Once you plea to that crime because your lawyer doesn't think you can win even when you're innocent, that is on your criminal record for a very long time. You'll have trouble getting work after that, even if you don't spend time in jail. Their power to destroy you is nearly unchecked. Heck, they can probably shoot you for no reason and get away with it as long as their blue shield loving partner backs them up. "Oh yes, I too thought his pink Miss. Piggy muppet themed wallet looked like a gun."

So yes, cops in large numbers, especially when we have a bunch of brownshirts like Eric cheering them on, scare the fuck out of me.
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Postby oneeyeddick » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:18 pm

Yes I am gonna fight the ticket.

Having this on my driving record will affect my carrer and my life.
I am a CDL truck driver and currently looking for work...this won't help at all.

The officer that wrote me the ticket was made aware of this fact, politely(he gave me kudos for being one of the most civil stops of the week), but I got a moving violation for using my flame effect in the way that it is meant to be used.


square peg does not fit into round hole.

it is that simple in my case.
We have an obligation to make space for everyone, we have no obligation to make that space pleasant.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:23 pm

This was my sixth year in a row and neither I nor anyone I have camped with ever had a problem with LEOs.

The speed traps in Fernley, Nixon, Empire and Gerlach are there all year-round and its because these are tiny towns with tiny two lane main streets where kids and dogs and cows are known to wander. There's also probably a lot of truck traffic coming to and from Empire.

Use a little common sense, use a helluva lot of precaution, particularly if going to cop-magnets like the big raver camps, and you probably will not have any problems either.

Having said that, however, one bad experience with law enforcement does have a tendency to leave an indelible mark on the psyche. Im not trying to diminish the impact of the OPs concerns.
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Postby gyre » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Actually there is a lot that can be done about bad cops, in spite of normal invulnerability to rules.

Citizens have been instrumental in sending many local cops to prison here.

Document and pursue all evidence.
Never give up.
And distribute the information as needed.

It is possible to render a cop unable to be promoted, unable to testify in court ever again, and so on.
Sometimes a word to a superior is more useful than anything else you might be able to do.

Honor the honest cops.
Put in a good word about them when warranted.

For the bad ones, make them a joke, if you can't get them fired.
Even a minor upheld complaint makes a difference in the long run.
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Postby unjonharley » Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:27 pm

Think I told this back in 08..

I was out mooping.. Stoped to pick some thing up.. Some times my body wont do what i want it.. When this happens my limbs spaz out and do there own thing.. Must be a hell of a sight for others to see.. Anyway I spazed out.. Cop was half a block away.. He was there and out of his truck in a second to help me.. Everything was under control a few seconds later.. I thanked him for his offer to help..

I sure as hell don't come under the young and pretty.. That cop reacted the way he was trained..
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:03 pm

unjonharley wrote:. Cop was half a block away.. He was there and out of his truck in a second to help me.. Everything was under control a few seconds later.. I thanked him for his offer to help..

I sure as hell don't come under the young and pretty.. That cop reacted the way he was trained..


That's great, but uncommon unfortunately. Most cops won't help with medical stuff in my experience. When I used to stop at accidents on highways before EMT's had arrived usually there were already police there, but they'd just be standing around looking at the carnage. I don't blame them, they may have first responder training, but it was probably secondary or tertiary to their enforcement training. I imagine yours may have had some sort of EMT/Lifeguard/volunteer Fire type job on his way to becoming a police officer.

Oh, and for you first responders out there... Many police vehicles have excellent, and never used, first aid kits in their trunks, just an FYI. You can always ask the cop for it if you're on the scene of some accident/catastrophe with your own kit.
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Postby unjonharley » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:53 pm

Man your are one hateful person..

A cop is just a person that makes a living inforceing the laws that are inacted by the people.. The cop that wanted to help me was one human to another.. The only thing he could have done was catch me if I fell.. He was willing to do it..

That old "quote" wifes tail has been going around sence the 1940s..

At one time in our history some hickvilles had speed traps.. Law suits against them wiped them out.. These storys are what make good movie tale.. To much

I have driven the HWY of this country longer than you have been alive.. Seen a lot distruction Never seen a cop standing around with his finger up his ass when duty called..

You may be watching to much TV..

At any rate you giving up to much free rent space in your brain ranking on cops
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Postby 1durphul » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:04 pm

unjonharley wrote:Man your are one hateful person..

A cop is just a person that makes a living inforceing the laws that are inacted by the people.. The cop that wanted to help me was one human to another.. The only thing he could have done was catch me if I fell.. He was willing to do it..


I don't hate cops at all. I do fear reckless ones, as we all should. And in the case of BM, I fear organized efforts for enforcement where none are needed.

Like I said, it has been my experience that cops won't help with medical needs at a car crash. It isn't their job really, and if they aren't comfortable doing it, I wouldn't want them doing it. In no way do I fault them for that. Initiation of first aid while you wait for a first responder makes you responsible for the person until a first responder with greater skills or ability arrives. For all I know they are actively trained not to initiate for that very reason.
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Postby robrob » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:06 pm

i'm not going to beat this dead horse anymore, but i did want to just throw something out there real quick.

I was recently watching a Hunter S Thompson Documentary that had alot of footage of the police in action in Chicago '68. That was fucked. Hell, there are people around that remember when cops turned dogs on blacks for wanting the right to vote. Also pretty fucked.

it's not awesome that getting high in public can have consequences for a very small amount of people. But have a little perspective- most of us got to have our unique/dangerous/semi-retarded brand fun for a week nonstop hassle free :)

if you really really feel so strongly about LE activity, get directly involved- and not in the write a letter to congress kind of way- consider trying to volunteer for the ranger teams that liaison with the cops.
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Postby gyre » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:25 pm

unjonharley wrote:At one time in our history some hickvilles had speed traps.. Law suits against them wiped them out.. These storys are what make good movie tale.. To much

Still a huge problem around here, so much so that shutting towns down has become routine.
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Postby jerroc » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:53 am

1durphul try these helpful tips Don't give the LEO probable cause, and yes 1 mph over the speed limit is breaking the law and they will pull you over to see if you got a stash so don't have it out. If they ask to search your car its not a trick question so say NO thank you. Don't sit in a joint circle even if your not token the shit. If someone ask you for drugs say I don't have any. Don't give beer to minors. Most importantly if you see someones rights being violated get the assholes badge number and fill out one of the froms to hold him acountable.
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