The ambience of Burning Man 2013 may feel a little different from previous years. Although festival patrons will still converge onto the playa looking for a peaceful, transcendent experience, the police in the area surrounding the festival have different ideas. According to Aaron Muzslaski, a regular at Burning Man, the police are cracking down extremely heavily this year.

 The pigs are here. And uncommonly badge heavy. Earlier tonight, the #BLM pulled over El Couchino for a registration violation. In 18 years on the playa, I’ve never seen a more aggressive police presence than what’s been going down today. Deeply upsetting, outrageous stuff. One DPW member was issued a $275 ticket for urinating on the playa, and threatened with being forced to register as a convicted sex offender. (a note for people not familiar with Burning Man, the “Playa” is what Burning Man attendees or “Burners” call the land that this event is held on.) I suspect this is fallout from the lawsuit BMORG won against the BLM earlier this year. Whatever the cause, know this: Law enforcement is going to be VERY AGGRESSIVE at Burning Man this year. Keep your shit as right as you do back in the world. Don’t give them any excuses. Be extremely cautious, and MAKE SURE TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Things are changing. #BM2013 #LEO #police IF YOU DO GET STOPPED: Make sure to file an incident report with Burning Man. And before you get here, LEARN YOUR RIGHTS.

On August 21st, the official Burning Man blog similarly reported that during pre-festival setup, police presence had already been felt more strongly this year and warned patrons to be cautious when entering the grounds. However, the article also included a reminder that the festival is not at odds with law enforcement.

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.

Burning Man has posted a guide for reducing the possibility of being pulled over and requests that all patrons report any interactions, positive or negative, that they have with law enforcement while approaching the festival grounds.

Sources: Popular Resistance, Burning Man Blog