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Monday, August 24, 2015

New Hardass Sheriff Promises a Crackdown at Burning Man

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:57 AM

click to enlarge GUILLERMO A. DURÁN/FLICKR
  • Guillermo A. Durán/Flickr

There’s a new Sheriff in Black Rock City, and he’s not a fan of Burning Man.

As the Reno Gazette-Journal reports, former deputy Jerry Allen replaced Richard Machado as Sheriff of Pershing County in January. Unlike his predecessor, who was lax on marijuana possession and nudity, and who patrolled the playa with retired officers instead of active-duty cops, Allen talks tough when it comes to enforcing desert law.

“Burning Man brings nothing to Pershing County except for heartache,” Allen told the Gazette-Journal. He added, “We don’t change the laws when Burning Man comes to town.”

Allen says he’ll enforce all laws except bans on public nudity (he doesn't have the personnel necessary to keep all that hippie flesh covered). And he plans to enlist active-duty officers instead of the easygoing retirees favored by Machado.

Last year, officers cited only eight people with offenses ranging from trespassing to sexual assault. Allen suggests that the retired cops scouring the playa weren’t vigilant enough — an argument that may have merit: The last time that active-duty cops worked Burning Man, four years ago, about three dozen people were arrested, according to the Gazette-Journal.

Two years ago, Business Insider reported that undercover federal agents were “swarming” Burning Man, donning steampunk drag to fit in. One agent reportedly dressed as Catwoman, while others solicited drugs; meanwhile, drug-sniffing dogs roamed the camps.

Burners, take note: This year's ban on decadent behavior includes flying drones (exemptions for certain media and art events), EDM parties lasting more than three hours, and playing with handheld lasers.

If the bugs and billionaires don’t get you down, Sheriff Allen and his posse might.


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Jeremy Lybarger

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