August 21st, 2013  |  Filed under Building BRC

Law Enforcement’s Comin’ To Town

August 21st, 2013  |  Filed under Building BRC

[Editor's Note: John Curley is one of our best and most respected bloggers, however his original story didn't include important details that give a more complete perspective of law enforcement onsite. The Burning Blog editorial staff will always reserve the right to expand a story to provide a deeper understanding. We have made these edits with John's permission.]

Law enforcement arrived in a very visible way

Law enforcement arrived in a very visible way

The Man is not the only Man who arrived on the playa yesterday.

The other arrival we’re talking about is that other Man, the police, aka law enforcement officials, who have joined us in town and made their presence clear.

At least two people onsite for setup were cited for peeing on the playa (which carries a $275 fine, plus the threat that the offense could, at the officer’s discretion, be elevated into an indecent exposure rap, which would make you a sex offender and really make a mess of your record). Burning Man supports the event being all ages, and it’s important we keep that in mind even pre-event when it might look like there’s no one there to see you pee.

There were also citations for speeding, although the incidents reveal there seemed to be confusion about the current speed limit in Black Rock City. Burning Man staff (via the event stipulations) have agreed on a pre-event limit of 10 mph, but it’s possible the citations were given for exceeding 5 mph. In addition, art cars were being cited for not having valid current registrations. Organizers are working with BLM to clarify the enforceable speed limit, as pre-event rules are different from “show time”. There are also accommodations made for event vehicles and their registration status off-road. All incidents are being reviewed in Burning Man’s daily meetings with law enforcement officials.

There are new officers on site each year, and they have the jurisdiction to enforce the laws as they see fit. However, the organization works with the BLM year-round to give them a sense of our culture, and how things work during setup and then during the event itself.

Charlie Dolman, Burning Man’s new Director of Event Operations reminded the DPW at a recent morning meeting that the organization is set up to “have your back”, but that doesn’t mean if you’re actually in violation of the law. Anyone who is issued a citation they are uncertain about is encouraged to bring it and your questions to the organization or the BLM sub-station in Center Camp. The Burning Man staff works throughout the year to create a collaborative working relationship with law enforcement, and to help with that, participants are encouraged to report both positive and negative interactions with law enforcement by filling out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form at Ranger HQ.

But it’s clear that law enforcement wants you to know that they are here, and they are enforcing laws strictly. Drivers are being told to have a driver’s license on them at all times (this shouldn’t come as any surprise). Though there haven’t been any DUI citations it’s obvious those will happen if there’s anyone driving under the influence. So, the message is, handle yourself well, but be prepared to be pulled over for infractions that draw attention.

A police dog was used to search "The Gypsy Queen" on the way in to Black Rock City

A police dog was used to search “The Gypsy Queen” on the way in to Black Rock City

As evidence of what happens when your infraction is more than obvious, BLM pulled over the “Gypsy Queen” mutant vehicle for an obstructed license plate as she entered Black Rock City.  A K-9 unit was used to sniff the accompanying van, and the when the dog got a “hit,” officers searched both vehicles.

However, all ended well. “They got a hit on a drill handle,” the owner said. “I told them that it was used by a bunch of people.” Although he was very obviously unhappy with the search, he said that the officers had been “cool.” And, there was nothing out of alignment except the obstructed plate.

The Burning Man organization works year round to maintain a strong working relationship with law enforcement. They have a right to be here and there is no way we could do the event without them and the important work they do to maintain order and enforce state, local and federal laws. There aren’t any laws that can be ignored.

So, do your part and obey the law. Each year we hear stories of how someone was pulled over and the ensuing painful experience. Most of the time the initial infraction was a tail light out, seat belt not used, speeding, riding on the top of a vehicle.  Be safe, use common sense and follow the rules of the road — just as you would in any other city.

And, if your experience needs to be reviewed by the organization for our daily meetings with BLM please come to the Ranger station in Center Camp and fill out a LE Feedback form. We can’t advocate for your situation — nor can we explain to you what laws you broke and why it’s enforceable — if we don’t have a conversation with you about it. Trusting internet hype that there’s a strong police presence, and not being cognizant of all the variables is irresponsible. Be Self Reliant.


[Note: It was erroneously reported on Boing Boing that BRC won a lawsuit against BLM this year and that BLM may be retaliating by writing more citations in Black Rock City.  For the record, BRC was not in a lawsuit with BLM this year.  There is an ongoing lawsuit with Pershing County.  More information about that can be found at  The information about retaliation is unfounded.]

93 Responses to “Law Enforcement’s Comin’ To Town”

  1. Peter Says:

    Has BMOrg met with them to work things out? Does this mean that once the event has started the police will descend en mass and this will become a police state?

    Report comment

  2. P. Fluff Says:

    Gotta love Spoono. And seriously, no tazing.

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  3. B. Obvious Says:

    It would be helpful to know the nature of the search—was it the “tear through every package and bag and dump on the ground, tear up panels in vehicle” variety? Because if you don’t know it, despite regrettable court precedent, dogs will signal whatever the cop decides to say they signalled, and if they intend to do that kind of reach for probably cause on all, many, or even 1 percent of vehicles coming into the event, it will be an ugly scene indeed.

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  4. B Obvious Says:

    I guess the scariest part is the idea they are pulling over and ticketing people for speeds and vehicles that they apparently have zero legal authority to do so. It would behoove us all for more of those famous cooperation meetings between the Org and the cops to happen this week.

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  5. AC Says:

    I will have a bike rack covering my rear license plate. Is there anything I can do to prevent being pulled over or is this going to be a free ‘we’re going to pull you over’ card for the cops?

    Report comment

  6. Squeaky Wheel Says:

    The police are preying on us. Fish in a barrel. Using us as an ATM to cover their shitty little towns’ operating budgets.

    The org needs to quit dicking around and move the event to private land.

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  7. Beemo Says:

    Well I am seriously rethinking my trip to BM now. I fucking hate cops, and if they have dogs they are going to fuck over as many people as possible. Nevada cops don’t fuck around with weed either, here are their laws If you’re caught with any other drugs you will probably be royally fucked over. I’ve already had to deal with their harassment over the years and this totally kills the vibe of the whole event. You gotta fix this shit BM or you will soon lose your favorite burners.

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  8. TinkerBoomBoom Says:

    I was pulled over last year just after getting into Black Rock City (after gate) – the connections to my trailer lights shook loose (I think the ground wire fell off) and the cops couldn’t see my trailer in the dust storm. Hence, I got pulled over for non-operating trailer lights.

    The cops were cool, no citations, but this year I’m making sure my lights and wiring are more secure and functional.

    Report comment

  9. hoboe Says:

    so does this mean if I am on an art car with 20 other people, and 1 person makes the mistake of smoking weed, does this mean that everyone on that art car is searched via k-9?

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  10. Alex from Astoria Says:

    Indecent exposure rap?!! What unbelievable horseshit. Nudity on the playa is rampant, this is insufferable totalitarian nonsense.

    On the other hand, if it curtails the percentage of shirtcocking, well…maybe that’s a mixed blessing.

    Report comment

  11. Snarkines Says:

    Peeing on the playa? It’s disgusting. But oh so convenient, which is why I don’t have an issue with fines to keep it at bay…
    The rest of it sucks…

    Report comment

  12. JL Says:

    Somehow my vision of the officer hunched over picking up all the dog hair left in the trail of his K-9 doesn’t seem likely to be a reality…

    Report comment

  13. Petey Says:

    Wait! What? Dogs are aloud on the Playa now? How did this get switched around? Who gave the go ahead? Do they have their laminates in clear display? Will their owners be cleaning up after them? I know it can be difficult to work a shovel when you don’t have opposable thumbs. Hell, it’s dam hot out there too! The most humane thing they could do, would be to shave ‘em. That way they won’t get heat exhaustion. @ least start with the stupid mustaches would ya?

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  14. Michelle Says:

    Please just move this event to a private land, burning man has moved before and can move again. Playa, we love you. But this is getting out of hand.

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  15. MrMullen Says:

    Seriously, this happens every year! Why is this even news?

    Every year new cops are assigned/volunteer to work Burning Man and every year there is a batch of Virgin Cops that go ape shit for a couple of days until they are informed that half the stuff they write tickets for are outside of their jurisdiction or are permitted at Burning Man by BLM. The other half of the stuff they write tickets for are stuff that people should not being doing anyways. Pee’ing on the Playa is a good example.

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  16. Piko! Says:

    Hey, why not move this fucker to private land? Then LEO’s can patrol outside the trash fence, BUT are not permitted inside.

    If on public land…two choices: 1- Do not attend & participate. 2- Do not break any laws.

    Know you rights. Be polite. Don’t be a dick. The rest should take care of itself.

    They’re out to get me! Bullshit. You were probably being unsafe, causing a problem, or just being a dick.

    I’ve never had a negative experience with LEOs at BM in the past 5 years.

    Report comment

  17. AmusingTest Says:


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  18. itsforthemoney Says:

    how can we call it burning man while being under the thumb of said man?

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  19. Bunko Says:

    So what you mean is, they faked a hit so they could search whomever they wanted, then once they found that there were no drugs on either vehicle, they claimed it was a false hit. Fucking pigs will lie and cheat to get their way. Who’s looking out for us, Bman?

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  20. tom brown Says:

    The beginning of the end. everything a cop touches is destroyed. They are indiscriminate killers of all living things. fun……. is not a word cops understand. happiness ………….. how can you be allowed happiness if a cop can’t? Love… a cop cannot love. peace……… a cop needs turmoil. Therefore why not let cops nuke the joint. same difference

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  21. SuicideMan Says:

    People should bring video cameras there, including the better cell phones with video capability. Turn one on as you enter the event just i case to record any searches in your vehicle. Use them whenever you see police or BLM interacting with people. One person with a camera they can intimidate, dozens surrounding them they cannot.
    Make them feel as watched as they do to us. Since you are as under surveillance there as in a prison yard, we owe it to the interests of mutual transparency to do the same to them.
    If it were possible to broadcast independent live video and/or audio to tell the outside world about what is happening there it should occur.

    It is settled case law that you have the right to record police. Any evidence of unlawful searches that can be thus gathered will help assert our rights, as they periodically need to be in order to push back against ongoing creeping Fascism.

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  22. bunk Says:

    So you deleted my first post. I’l try again. Clearly this art car was pulled over, and then subjected to a warrantless search based upon a manufactured “hit” by the dog. So, if I get pulled over, am I allwoed to film the pigs giving the dog the signal to “hit” my car? How am I supposed to fight anything they might find (impermissable in court) if I cannot prove that the officer, like he did in this instance, manufactured a reason to search the vehicle?

    Seriously, whoever’s cop ass you’re kissing by deleting my post, I have a real question about my right to videotape officers attempting to subvert my constitutional freedom from unwarranted search. Anyone know the answer in Nevada? can I film the cop with the dog so I can catch him :signalling” the dog to “hit”?

    Report comment

  23. HK Says:

    Proud and glad that BM decided against cowardly censorship.

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  24. LightMan Says:

    I do not believe having the event on Private land will reduce police presence. in 1997 it was on private land, and *we* were paying for their helicopter to fly over us almost 24/7. The BLM won’t be involved, but the sheriff will be there (frankly I’d much rather deal with the BLM… I bet more them have done this before).

    As the throngs of people start showing up, I bet their ability to pull people over will be greatly reduced. Just have common sense, and don’t give them a reason to pull you over (which reminds me I need to put the new license plates on my car) :).

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  25. Hibiscus Says:

    Why haven’t you addressed the warrantless searches by dogs, which are apparently happening over and over? You guys know that this is a violation of rights, why is it being ignored? Please understand that the fact that cops are getting away with this is scaring thousands of participants right now.

    And, peeing on the playa is bad because kids might be watching? You can shirtcock all day long, but if you pee, then it is offensive and indecent exposure? That makes no sense. Give us some credit…we all know you aren’t supposed to pee on the playa. But a $275 ticket is ridiculous and should be called out as such rather than turning it into a “but think of the kids!” thing.

    Report comment

  26. Maid Marian Says:

    Peeing on the playa is a citable offense. The officer also warned that exposing oneself is also an offence. There could have been two, but there was one.

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  27. Aze Says:

    Here is some information on concerns about ending up with a computer showing a misdemeanor one’s permanent record for a typical BLM citation, even though BMOrg and others consider the citations to be infractions rather than crimes punishable by jail.

    A BLM citation for pot possession at Burning Man 2006 said I violated 43CFR8365.1-4B2.

    The only reference to penalties in section 43CFR8360, which includes 43CFR8365, is at:
    which says:

    > § 8360.0-7 Penalties.
    > Violations of any regulations in this part by a member of the public,
    > except for the provisions of §8365.1–7, are punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000
    > and/or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months. Violations of supplementary rules
    > authorized by §8365.1–6 are punishable in the same manner.

    Note that 8365.1-7 is a single section on violation of non-fed laws, and that does not refer to my violation 8365.1-4; in other words my violation is not excluded.

    See that… imprisonment. Jail. Slammer. Criminal penalty in the law.

    Because the law says that a year’s jail time is a punishment that applies to the violation, which I plead no contest to by paying the $525 bail on my citation, I believe that I may have plead to a misdemeanor crime, punishable by jail and therefore arrest. There doesn’t appear to be any legal document that can tell me whether I have an infraction (not a crime) or a misdemeanor (a crime) on my record now.

    Consider that every lawyer, without exception, says don’t answer questions or submit to searches if law enforcement suspects you of a crime. These citations have criminal penalties written into the law, even though nobody has apparently ever done jail time for simple possession citations. And consider that many have done jail time for things that look like trafficking to law enforcement at Burning Man.

    Consider that nobody has ever been put on the sex offender list for urinating at Burning Man, but this year might be different. Flex your rights.

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  28. Hibiscus Says:

    So, you are saying that nudity is a citable offense this year?

    Report comment

  29. Hibiscus Says:

    One more thing, can I beg you to not spin this any further? The community is depending on you to be direct, honest, and defensive of our rights. Editing a post to try to turn things into a “there are kids around!” tact hurts your legitimacy. Thank you.

    Report comment

  30. BB Says:

    Please just tell people the truth so they can prepare themselves and not fall victim to law enforcement. This is sounding like a HUGE change from years past. No nudity allowed now??

    Report comment

  31. BB Says:

    It also sounds like all the BLM officers or many of them are new this year as well?

    Report comment

  32. gekko Says:

    Don’t bring your cellphone into view to record law enforcement! Cops can seize your phone and take any records off of it they wish, without warrant.

    If you insist on recording things, go buy a dash cam for the purpose. Keep your cellphone hidden.

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  33. juris imprudent Says:

    If the BLM wants to dog-search your vehicle, please video record the search, get the agency name, officer and DOG name. If it is a false-positive, like the Gypsy Queen, report all of that information to the ACLU and/or Lawyers for Burners. Dogs are assumed to be reliable because no one pays attention to the false positives – this is important information for your fellow Burners who may be cited for possession. If the dog alert is only a coin-flip, defense lawyers need to know that. The alleged alert on the Gypsy Queen proves that these dogs are NOT alerting only in the presence of controlled substances. It is past time to bust the myth of the infallible dog nose.

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  34. dust nugget Says:

    last year I successfully drove over 1000 miles from Seattle without any incident, got in line, passed through the gate, all is well, right? home sweet home! a few 100 yards past the gate, I came to an intersection where a BLM ranger was driving cross-wise, so I slowed, stopped and gave him a friendly wave to go thru first. seconds later his lights were on, pulled me over, next thing I know there are 3 BLM ranger vehicles surrounding me all with lights and it was completely terrifying. I was like 5-10 minutes away from my final destination for the week, how could this be! i won’t bore you with the whole saga but the reason they pulled me over was my bike on the rack on the back of my truck was partially covering my license plate. this happened during the BMorg search at the gates, when I had to jigger the bike around to let them look in to the back. the BLM rangers really freaked me out, coming at me from all sides, then told me I had to wait until the dog came — “you can just give us whatever drugs you have now and get a simple citation, or we’ll search the hell out of your car and if we find something, you’ll be in jail instead of at Burning Man.” it went on and on for what seemed like an eternity, all kinds of good cop bad cop dynamics, me trying to ask questions to get clarification while I was completely overwhelmed in their cop lights and radios squelching….I’ll just say that I handed over to them a *tiny* bit of herb and they gifted me a $500 ticket and let me go. they got the payday they wanted I suppose. the encounter rattled me and was hard to shake off the whole week. i wish i had some good advice to share from it. maybe just know that even once your through the gates, be as conservative as possible til you get to your final destination, and make sure all your lightbulbs work, license and registration is up to date, don’t crack a brew or puff a bowl in celebration, don’t give any tiny reason for them to pull you over, scare the shit out of you, threaten you, play their mind games…. i hope the best for everyone heading home!

    i decided to stick to smaller regionals and west coast festies this summer.

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  35. Soup Says:

    You don’t need a warrant or a reason to walk a dog around the outside of a vehicle. When a K9 unit alerts, it creates probable cause for a search and no warrant is needed. Later, one may argue the validity of the probable cause; but in that moment, that’s the way the legal cookie crumbles.
    More concerning to me is the apparent disconnect around the pre-event speed limit. I’ve got a bunch of art cars and work vehicles going in this week, and I hope nobody gets in trouble for following the rules.

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  36. Dan Says:


    The Supreme Court case Illinois v. Caballes established as long as the dog sniff around the perimeter of your vehicle takes place during the time it takes for the normal traffic stop and to issue the ticket it’s 100% legal. Now if the dog gets a hit then that’s sufficient probable cause to search the vehicle. Also I should add it is considered unlawful detention if after the ticket is issued the officer tries to say “I need you to wait while I call for a K-9 unit to sniff the outside of your car.”

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  37. Hibiscus Says:

    dust nugget, they had NO right to detain you until the “dogs” arrived. We should *all* know to say, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” I am so sorry you went through that, but you were tricked, as happens frequently.

    Dan, I read a first person account today where a woman was pulled over for a missing front license plate and was told to get out of the car so that they could send dogs through her car, without any probable cause or request for consent.

    I am quite disconcerted by the lack of response from anyone from BM as to whether simple exposure will be considered a citable offense this year.

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  38. EWN Says:

    There used to be a helpful guide as to your rights in the survival guide but it seems to be gone now. I posted this on another blog and perhaps it will be useful to some here as well.

    Know your rights when LEOs come into your camp or stop you:

    Your tent/RV (when not being driven) has the same rights as your home in the above link. Also if your tent is closed, they can’t see anything thru the window, and they do not have a warrant but dogs “hit” on your tent, there was a successful ruling against this recently as probably cause to search. (There are court rulings around this that I don’t have time to look up now.) So do not consent to a search.

    The same is NOT true for a moving vehicle stop. They can bring dogs and search with probable cause. Use the “Am I free to go?” question to help you here.

    Memorize these lines when interacting with LEOs
    “Am I free to go?”
    “I’m going to remain silent.”
    “Do you have a search warrant?”
    “I don’t consent to a search.”
    Repeat often.

    And finally, practice Law’s Law. Only break one law at any given time.

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  39. Randy George Says:

    Whoever rewrote this article doesn’t have the slightest notion of the terror one goes through when being pulled over for trumped up charges. It happened to me just outside of the gate last year and I’m still not fully recovered. I say “trumped up” because it was the bicycle rack partially obscuring the license plate absurdity and I had driven that car with that same bike and bike rack for 17 years with no issues. It was all a ploy to have the dog sniff the car and of course he found nothing, but my burn was more than ruined and I was scared nearly half to death given the overly aggressive actions of the Deputy. BORG you are burying your head in the sand if you think all we need to do is to “be more careful” to avoid what sounds like a brewing nightmare.

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  40. Katrina Says:

    Thank you John Curley for a blog piece reminding us how hard Burning Man works with law enforcement so things run smoother for all of us.

    I’m reading an interview on Burners.Me blog how DPW would like to get paid and I wonder if other groups will feel the same, a factor that would probably increase ticket prices. The same group has members cited for peeing on the playa. Imagine if the rest of the 67998 followed suit.
    Alot of us volunteer, sometimes not signing up but putting in many hours, paying for our own medical bills, due to torn shoulder from lifting, heatstroke, or whatever some of the things that can happen. It’s a CHOICE we make, whether out of love, free ticket, bored or just the satisfaction of knowing we’re part of a society that can build and tear down a city in a short matter of time. Yes, the elements are harsh….heat, rain, wind, catchy moods that can put you in a worst or better mood. If your’e burned out, simple, quit volunteering and enjoy the event. Don’t want to quit….take a break for a year and quit causing drama. It’s one reason many of us want to go to the city, to get away from the drama.

    This year, the viral post that went out talking about “pigs” was pretty sad. Counties have laws and Burning Man has Principles…..what’s so hard about showing respect and following Principles. Everybody is doing their job.

    Again John Curley, thank you for the reminder. I for one commend you and yes I’m grateful for the hard work DPW, Center Camp organizers and other groups do to keep things smooth.

    On a final note, couldn’t say it any better…..

    “Trusting internet hype that there’s a strong police presence, and not being cognizant of all the variables is irresponsible.
    Be Self Reliant.

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  41. your Mom Says:

    Sounds like BORG is getting kickbacks from all those citations.

    “however his original story didn’t include important details that give a more complete perspective of law enforcement onsite.”

    yes..and we’re all stupid.

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  42. Fallen Pegasus Says:

    (let’s see if the editors allow this)

    Do not consent to a search.

    Never, ever ever consent to a search. Say the phrase “I do not consent to a search.” Even if you have nothing for them to find, ALWAYS say “I do not consent to a search.” Never consent to them searching your person, searching your car, or searching your tent. You especially never consent to the search of anyone else’s tent. They are trained to make you flustered and to take command of the situation. Or they can be “polite”: “Mind if we take a look around?” Yes, you mind. “I/we do not consent to a search.”

    They can ask the other people in your group, in your art car, in your car driving in, not just the driver or leader. “Mind if we look?” You should all sing the same song: “I do not consent to a search.”

    Leading them to your camp. Don’t.

    They may try to get you to lead them to your camp. They can be very commanding and matter of fact about it, they may say “We’re going to your camp.” They will make it sound as if you have no choice. You do have a choice, and you are going to chose not to lead them to your camp. Never lead them to your camp.

    Seal your tent.

    Always zip your tent closed when you are not in it. If possible, use screens or sheets to block window screens, so there is no line of sight into your tent. You may want to use a luggage lock, and lock your tent when you are not in it. If your tent is zipped shut and locked, they need a warrant to open it, or they need your consent. They probably won’t have a warrant, and you are not going to give them your consent, remember?

    Name and ID.

    If they ever stop you, you do have to tell them your name. If you have your ID on you, you have to show it to them if they ask. If you don’t have it on you, you don’t have to go get it for them, and you never ever should.

    If you are a non resident alien visiting on a visa waiver program, you do not have to carry your passport on you.


    They can keep asking you questions. They can ask you were your camp is, and who you are camping with. They may try the “we’re just talking”, or “what do you think of XYZ”, or “can you help us out?” You do not have to answer those questions, and probably shouldn’t. Never ever answer questions about being altered, people you have seen altered, and what being altered may be like. And again, never tell them where your camp is.

    “Am I free to go?”

    The next magic phrase is: “Am I free to go?” Keep saying it. As soon as they say “yes”, leave immediately and without another word.

    If they write you a ticket, you take it, put it in your pocket, and then you say “Am I free to leave?”

    If they say “no”, you say “Am I being arrested?”. If they say no, you say “Am I free to leave?” Iterate as necessary.

    If they say “yes”, you immediately say “I do not consent to a search. I invoke my right to remain silent. I want to speak to my attorney.” And then you shut the fuck up.

    Watching the watchmen.

    While the cop is dealing with you, you need to be memorizing his uniform color, his name and his badge number. As soon as you get away, immediately fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form.

    If you see a cop detaining anyone, arresting anyone, or searching anyone or anything, get out your camera and start filming. If they tell you to turn it off, don’t. They cannot lawfully command you to stop photos, they may not ever order you to delete photos, and the may not ever delete a photo or video. Ever. If you ever see a cop try to order you or a fellow burner to delete a photo, make sure that goes on the Law Enforcement Feedback Form that everyone should turn in.

    While recording, never get in their way, and stay back 35 feet / 10 meters. That’s tazer range.

    What if I need “police services”?

    What if you are lost? Or a camp mate is lost? Or your kid is lost? Or you have found a lost kid? Or you have found a lost burner who is high out of his mind? What if you are assaulted? What if something has been stolen? What if there is a medical emergency?

    Go to a RANGER, not a cop. The rangers will deal with it, and if the police are actually needed, the rangers will deal with them.

    Know what the ranger uniform is, and how it’s different from the cops’ uniforms.

    Good luck out there!

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  43. Aze Says:

    (second try to get facts through moderation so I will keep this short)

    The difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor is that misdemeanors can have jail time. The BLM has cited for the following possession violation: 43CFR8365.1-4B2.

    The only reference to penalties is in section 43CFR8360, which includes 43CFR8365, at:
    which says:

    > § 8360.0-7 Penalties.
    > Violations of any regulations in this part by a member of the public,
    > except for the provisions of §8365.1–7, are punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000
    > and/or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months. Violations of supplementary rules
    > authorized by §8365.1–6 are punishable in the same manner.

    As far as I know nobody has ever been jailed for one of these citations, but know the risks and act appropriately when dealing with police. Flex your rights.

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  44. AsOfTime Says:

    You are being sacrificed by the very people that are inviting you to partake.

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  45. fw Says:

    Ha ha. I saw the original version of this story posted by John Curley and now here’s the edited version Posted by Burning Man. It should probably say Posted by the Lawyer Representing Burning Man LLC. I understand, but it’s just funny. For those who didn’t see the original, can you guess which parts were written by John and which were not?

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  46. Blackdog Says:

    At Afrika Burn this year one lone police vehicle arrived from the nearest town that is about 2 hours drive away… They pulled up, shared some jokes with us and left after about an hour driving around. Two policemen in one car for an hour! No stress, violations, infra-red goggles, busts etc. No major indicents and everyone just getting on with the Burn!

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  47. Adam Leggett Says:

    I for one am pissed off to hear of this – and I am as pissed off at Burning Man management as I am at BLM management. This is harassment and would probably stand up in federal court as harassment, regardless of whether BLM officers are following the rules to the letter which they almost certainly aren’t. You cannot just flood a place with officers unless there is a justifiable reason. BM management should have already filed a case in federal court over this. Where is the case? What’s the docket number? I’m certainly not attending Burning Man until this gets resolved. I care about my own well being.

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  48. A man Says:

    Are you going to issue ticket refunds? This sort of defeats the purpose of burning man and will start everyone’s time off on a bad foot. I can stay in nyc and get this sort of treatment for free…

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  49. Adam Leggett Says:

    I agree with A man. If you’re not going to grow a pair and fight this, you should admit that you’re a bunch of castrated eunichs and give everyone a refund, since nobody in their right mind is even going to attend under these circumstances. This is clearly retaliatory on the part of BLM.

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  50. t groan Says:

    The only way to get the attention of the Bmorg is by not buying tickets. This is a business-nothing more despite its pretensions-and will, like other businesses, only respond when the cash flow is threatened.

    Private land sounds like the answer but I won’t hold my breath waitng for the Bmorg to do the right thing.

    Odds are, imo, the event will continue to grow and become increasingly mainstream and those that add so much color, variety, and passion to the event will say ‘fuck it’. No one, except perhaps the Bmorg, wants a Disneyland in the desert.

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  51. B Obvious Says:

    Hey, Disneyland’s parking lot/drive in is not typically filled with police looking for any reason to pull people over and do a dog search. It’s far preferable.

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  52. t groan Says:

    @B Obvious If what you want is a sanitized event resembling Disneyland then I suggest you go there and wait a few years while BM morphs into its antithesis.

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  53. t groan Says:

    That should be ‘its own antithesis’.

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  54. Dan Says:

    “Sounds like BORG is getting kickbacks from all those citations.”

    That kind of baseless irrational conspiracy theory is not welcome here.

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  55. Meow Says:

    Thank you Fallen Pegasus for that post! Super amazingly useful! Reposting all over the place!

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  56. Adam Leggett Says:

    Suicide, the only thing you can take away from this is “Don’t attend”. Anything can happen in a situation like this, regardless of how law abiding you think you are or are trying to be.

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  57. Crissa Says:

    Your attendance or not will not change the law. As above, we need to fill out our law enforcement report forms, report searches to the ACLU, and challenge invasive laws when we are at home.

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  58. WhiskeyLips Says:

    So sad. I truly believe the event could be run without 85% of the LE, and that the BRR is pretty much a great alternative form of self-discipline. The event SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY UNDERCOVERS AT ALL.

    I think it’s indicative of society at large, specifically in the US, that law enforcement is over-reaching it’s own boundaries and checks. It is a vision of a fascist future that we are trying to combat.

    I also think it’s pretty ironic that an event which fosters and promotes freedom of consciousness and the destruction of boundaries (and has strong anti-authoritarian roots) has basically become a fucking stasi police state. That may be an exaggeration, but I see no public denouncing of the LE by BMorg, something I think they should be fighting tooth and nail. LE agencies are abusing their privileges of authority and earning my fully vocal disrespect. LE agencies are accelerating the evolution of the event in a way that is unhealthy, in a direction that no participant should want it to go. It’s too bad I haven’t gone for as long as many of you, because I truly feel like it has been something very special to me, but I am not sure how long that will last.

    BM has been very resilient to change in the past, under what I consider to be very good (although sometimes divided, and sometimes driven by questionable motives) leadership during a period of massive expansion. I believe it will continue to be something special to me in the future. But there is a change coming, we are in the beginning of a forced evolution.

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  59. Texas Constantine Says:

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  60. WhiskeyLips Says:


    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

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  61. Adam Leggett Says:

    Crissa, this is only tenuously related to whether the BLM is enforcing good laws or bad laws, or whether they’re even doing it by the book. The point is, the BLM is effectively harassing attendees by flooding the area with cops without valid justification. And if what I’m hearing is correct, it’s retaliatory. That is not permissible.

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  62. Richard Pendygraft Says:

    Dang who invited Matt Dildo…I mean Dillon!…sorry

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  63. stumpy Says:

    Your country is broke so the cops are now revenue generators. That’s my theory. It’ll be interesting to see how many tickets they issue this year.

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  64. Observer Says:

    I’ve watched BLM Rangers follow, stop, cite and search vehicles all day, just after the Greeters station. They’re stopping as many vehicles as their capacity allows. Reasons you will get stopped: broken taillights or headlights, non-functioning license plate light, no front license plates, obscured license plates (yes, even by bikes), expired registration tags, and speeding (even 1mph over). Make sure ALL of these things are taken care of, or they will most likely stop you. And they WILL try to search your vehicle with dogs. You have the right to refuse a search. Learn how and exercise that right. Always be polite.

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  65. Derek Says:

    Does this mean that nudity is no longer allowed? If they are trying to dump indecent exposure charges for peeing on the playa, what if someone is just naked?

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  66. Keepitrail Says:

    In my state we do not require front license plates. If I drive to burning man will I be pulled over for not having one on the front?

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  67. stepinpee yuck Says:

    I found law enforcement has been good about public nudity. If there is a chance you can be seen from the highway, or your’e one of the first volunteers (gatekeeper) that can possibly surprise someone that has taken the wrong turn, they ask if you can cover up until you are further in thecity. Peeing on the playa, when you can pee in a cup, drive to a port a potty (you can still get around, the city is not open yet) is just unnacceptable making it a bigger deal than what it is.. I for one personally hate waking up the next morning to see what can only be a ton of pee spots on the playa the next morning. Alot of people are practically barefoot. Yes I pee in the big outdoors too, but not in public. I don’t need an audience, I’m prepared to know where the port of potties are in case of drinking, red cups are my friend and I respect those around me.
    Misdimeanors don’t just happen at burning man because you are at burning man ……they are doing the same in Vegas with football personalities peeing in public , homeless doing it downtown, etc. Hmmmm, guess they are just doing their job.
    As for pulling people over as soon as they arrive, it you give them a small reason, that’s your problem. Get it fixed before you arrive. There have been problems with more people arriving in the past than tickets being sold. How do you think this happens? People volunteering early and getting in their friends without tickets,maybe? Two way street. We give BLM and law enforcement, reasons to do what they do. Everybody is doing their job.. There are 68,000 people coming to a city near you for only a week or less, I for one ….am thank ful for the enforcement. A person was busted for peeing on the playa and because of his actions we all know more about him then we care to know but it’s helped educate many more of what not to do. Burning Man does their best to remind us the 10 principles to live by. It’s our CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY

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  68. Kitty Says:

    Just replace wildman with Burningman.

    Yep, that about sums it up!

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  69. HK Says:

    NEVER trust a cop.

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  70. Dean Hervochon Says:

    EVERYONE should print this, laminate it with clear tape and carry it with you at ALL TIMES:

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  71. Stepinpee Yuck Says:

    I’d like to end this thread with a fart.
    NEVER trust a fart.
    Have a good burn )”(

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  72. Cat*Butt Says:

    I heard it was better in 1998.

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  73. Loren Says:

    Irony. During Burning Man set up, a cop busts a guy for taking a pee. However, on the other hand, the BORG (BM organization ) advises folks to drink lots of liquids. But where do these liquids go? When you gotta go, you gotta go. Now that this story is out, I suspect that lots of folks will drink less water and be dehydrated as a consequence. Watch out Burners for spaced out folks on the streets or BRC, not dizzy from drugs or alcohol, but spaced out due to not drinking water for fear of being busted if they need to pee. If you’re going to Burning Man, don’t forget to bring a pee jar in your day pack and if you gotta go and a porta pottie is not near, find a private discreet place away from children, to avoid an allegation of indecent exposure, and pee in the jar. I am bringing a large peanut butter jar with me for that purpose. Notwithstanding the cops and the threat of a bust if you pee, drink lots of water !!!!!

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  74. Peter Johnson Says:

    Indecent Exposure at Burning Man for peeing, lol!! I was once at a marathon in Belgium, a group of runners were making their way through the park where I was standing. I witnessed at least 3 runners stop to take a pee against a tree! Yes out in the open where there were plenty of children! No one batted an eye…

    Im sorry, but I said after last years ticket fiasco (and this years), that we have outgrown the Playa. This event needs to be moved to private land, I’ll bet there are some Indian reservations that would love to have us also!

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  75. heavensky Says:

    I’m not at the burn this year. There was WAY too much law enforcement last year. I saw really nice people get harassed and it was really stressful to have the red flashing lights all night long when I was trying to get some shut-eye.

    The law enforcement is WAY over the top and there needs to be a quota of them and not pulling people over for stupid stuff.

    Make em’ go after the big druggie guys making the really bad shit. I heard last year there was a bust of a lab. That’s where law enforcement efforts should go.

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  76. Aze Says:

    (third try at sticking to the facts while wondering why previous posts were moderated without emailing me)

    Some but not all lawyers told me that a citation received is a misdemeanor not an infraction.

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  77. djlucid Says:

    So peeing is a citable offense and indecent exposure, yet people are walking nude during the day, and that is ok? I don’t get it?!?!

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  78. alex Says:

    “Trusting internet hype that there’s a strong police presence, and not being cognizant of all the variables is irresponsible.”
    In other words, BMORG is rewriting the authors blog and censoring people that write that cops are being overly aggressive and pulling people over without just cause. As usual, BMORG is whitewashing the reality and kissing up to BLM. Meanwhile Burners suffer.

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  79. Helicopter Pete Says:

    I started the conversation on avoiding LEO scrutiny in my Piss Clear stories in ’05 and ’06 after boxes of the infamous “Drug Issue” were stolen from Piss Clear’s Offices in center camp in 2004. A bunch of Feds were hanging out across from Adrian’s camp that day and when he came out and saw all the boxes gone, he simply thought they were picked up and delivered to all the various camps until everyone starting asking him “Where’s the Wednesday issue?”. I participantspectated at Bman from 1998 -2008 and I saw it go from a few cops to a lot of cops with night vision goggles and dogs. I wish I could say Bman is less policed than the default world but nay, it ’tis not. The last four years I drove an innocous white van with no stickers, no masking tape man-rune on my back windows and my bikes INSIDE the van. Just a van, nothing to see here, move along. And I dressed like a dorky middle-aged tourist and always had a female passenger. Vehicle had tags, stickers, and no broken lights or windows. I could have smuggled in a ton of drugs if I had wanted to, but I don’t reccomend that. They have been running drug sniffing dogs at the gates since at least 2008 and now it’s during the early arrival period and probably at the black rock airport as well. Don’t be surprised if DHS (Homeland Security) shows up this year because another big event had a bombing happen (Boston Marathon). Welcome to the wonderful world of George Orwell would be what I’d say if I was a dick, but I’m not. Just be really carefull (and CLEVER) and have a great safe Burn everyone….now you know the game brothers and sistas! PEACE -hp

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  80. alex Says:

    maid marian didn’t answer the question. Is nudity illegal at burning man? why cant I report her comment?

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  81. alex Says:

    BM won a lawsuit against pershing county. Pershing County deputies are riding in tandem with BLM cops. Therefore the pairs of cops, one being a deputy pershing county sheriff are retaliating.

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  82. alex Says:

    Mr Mullen, you wrote “Every year new cops are assigned/volunteer to work Burning Man and every year there is a batch of Virgin Cops that go ape shit for a couple of days until they are informed that half the stuff they write tickets for are outside of their jurisdiction or are permitted at Burning Man by BLM. ”
    The cops are given their orders by their supervisors. Their supervisors are aware of how BM oeprates and what goes on there. Every BM assigned officer going to BM class and knows EXACTLY what to expect and what they can and can’t cite and arrest for. This has nothing to do with new vs veteran cops. It has to do with power, control and money.

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  83. Graham Price Says:

    I like the phrase:

    Peace and love… or else

    It works both ways and in England is understood to mean:

    Just chill the hell up

    No-one wants problems on the playa

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  84. DryCamp Says:

    Ok. I do a lot of backpacking, does that mean all those 60+ years I’ve been in violation? I don’t like stepping in someone’s pee, even my own, icky, but harmless. I believe the LEO are running up their numbers to justify higher fees for their org. This country, the USA, is getting so fearful, we have to find a way to calm the default world. Hyperbole on the other hand gives “them” the adrenalin they need to fuel their agenda. Be polite, but be firm.

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  85. Rebar Says:

    I was at Airventure in Oshkosh this year. It attracts no less then 500,000 people in one day.
    20,000 people camping. Granted not many hippies dancing to the music in there head.
    No drug sniffing dogs and very little sheriff presence. I didn’t see any patrolling all week.
    It’s all profiling at BM. This was my 15th consecutive year. I went for 10 days of set up and came home.

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  86. Garth T. Elliott Says:

    In 1997 Burning Man could have moved to the fly Ranch, with the accompanying Fly Gyser! I know I was trying to make it happen! BMORG says they did not have the money to purchase te ranch some 1100 acres, I say bull ! It is clearly tine to give the BLM the heave ho!

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  87. j Says:

    This may go unseen given that the event is already underway, but it would be really appreciated if edits and updates were shown with full transparency. Show the strike out, sign popst and highlight or italicize the additions, please. It’s the ethical standard and also what the cool kids are doing.

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  88. A Woman Says:

    Leggett has it pegged: Anything can happen in a situation like this, regardless of how law abiding you think you are or are trying to be.

    Stumpy too: Your country is broke so the cops are now revenue generators.

    Its over burners. Last year was your red flag and now we’ll see what happens this year.

    Weed, shrooms, all the natural substances to make the desert experience a spiritual one is marred by over-reaching law enforcement. Private Prison Industry+,Mass Incarceration = people forget about making any kind of ‘anti’ establishment statements when your mugshot arrests are blaring all over google –you can bet ‘civil death’ is the new reality for those that will be arrested this year. … The founder sold out as well as the organizers on this. Face it and move on.

    Hoping I am all wrong about this. Lets see what happens at the end of the week and see if the above equation makes any sense…… PEACE

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  89. Anthony Hill Says:

    It would be a good idea to print up a card listing people’s rights as citizen. Most people do not know their rights such as no search without a warrant or probable cause. And don’t give them probable cause. Do not look at them, so they can say your pupils are dilated even when they are not, and do not leave anything in view in your vehicle that might be interpreted as suspicious. Don’t roll down your window further than necessary to talk to them. You do not have to answer questions.
    And make sure your vehicle is in perfect shape. You should ask: “Am I being detained” and “Am I free to go” at the appropriate times.

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  90. 4th generation local Says:

    By saying that “Burning Man staff works throughout the year to create a collaborative working relationship with law enforcement”, do you mean the part where you sued Pershing county sheriff’s office and went crying and sniveling like a bunch of 4 year olds to the State Legislature? Or the part where you tried to go around the State of Nevada altogether and claimed that Nevada’s local law enforcement do not have the authority to enforce state law on public land at all ? Please be reminded, burners: the Burning Man Administrative staff and their half witted idiot lawyers are the ones who brought all this down upon your heads. And every time they get belligerent with local and state law enforcement, it’s going to get exponentially worse. Good luck with that.

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  91. Ted Says:

    What’s the current status? Are just as many being pulled over? Is everyone pulled over being searched and cited?

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  92. spur011 Says:

    @ 4th Generation Local:

    If you’re really local (and I assume you are), then I infer that the local buzz is that the increased police presence really is in retaliation for the exercise of what I think to be core constitutional rights, like seeking redress in the courts and lobbying the legislature. And, apparently, you’re unashamedly pleased about that. I wish I could talk you out of that opinion: When government decides that the rule of law is a bad thing, bad things happen.

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  93. G Says:

    4th gen. A friend of mine is a 7th gen local over by Honey Lake, and he agrees with your statement 100%

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