The genesis of Black Rock Legal Defense Fund was in response to frequently heavy handed law enforcement practices increasingly common at the Burning Man event. This music & arts festival draws 55,000+ participants from around the world to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, a National Conservation Area, which is just about as remote as it gets in the continental United States.
The absence of conventional restrictions in this most isolated location facilitates creative innovation and artistic expression. The community that evolved here ranked #1 for quality of life by US News & World Report best places to live in 2009. Being an overwhelmingly positive, peaceful and supportive culture, public safety, in the conventional sense of the word, is of less concern than in the general society. As such, law enforcement practices occurring during the event represent a microcosm of trends throughout the nation.
Incidents of violent crime are virtually non-existent, and those of a property nature are at similarly low frequency. Exact law enforcement staffing levels are unknown, however it is known that $240,000 is paid annually directly to Pershing County expressly for police, and $2,800,000 to BLM in fees, so the budget is considerable. Without much conventional crime to fight, police at the event go to elaborate, duplicitous lengths to arrest or cite event participants presenting no credible threat to others, or general society.