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Police Presence at Burning Seed 2017

There has been a lot of discussion around the increased police presence this year at Burning Seed, and we wanted to clarify the position of Burning Seed as well as the responsibilities of our community.

At Burning Seed, we encourage self-expression and provide participants a chance to escape from some of the constraints of the default world. Our event is an opportunity for our community to immerse themselves in art, performance, music, workshops and human connection. While our event is a chance to escape for many, we are still bound by and comply with all laws in Australia, including laws around the use of alcohol and illegal substances.

In the lead up to Burning Seed each year, we work closely with the police and have built a good relationship with them. The police have always attended Burning Seed and you’ll see them chatting to our community and watching the Effigy burn with us on the Saturday night. More importantly they are there to protect us and support the safety of our community while responding to any emergencies or situations that our community of volunteers cannot handle.

While the police have in the past set up breath testing both in and out of the event, the increased police presence this year and the searching of vehicles was a concern to many. We understand that a number of our community members were upset about their interactions with the police and our Sanctuary and PEER teams responded immediately by offering assistance to these individuals where required.

Hundreds of people donate their time every year to make Burning Seed an inclusive, exciting, welcoming, fun and safe event and we liaise with numerous outside agencies including medical professionals, security and the police. We would not be following the principle of Civic Responsibility if we did not put protections in place for our community, and this year the police continued to provide support for our event when we needed it.

On the subject of Civic Responsibility - all participants are expected to follow the Ten Principles of Burning Man. We had some reports of attendees booing police as well as police vehicles being vandalised on site - we do not endorse this type of behaviour and feel that it only serves to weaken our relationship with those tasked with keeping us safe. Burning Seed will be footing the bill for the damage caused to the police vehicles which could otherwise be used towards theme camp grants, art grants or infrastructure and we would encourage anyone with information about this to come forward. Please remember, our good relationships with local agencies (including law enforcement) has been key to the success of Burning Seed, and will continue to be a major factor in our success going forward.

Both during and after the event, we have been responding to enquiries from the media who are now asking questions about Burning Seed - most are intrigued as they had not heard of us up until now. You’ll most likely have seen some bad press because while we responded to the media, journalists will always write their own stories. It’s worth noting though that the incidents reported around drug confiscations were small (less than 1% of our community) and not reflective of Burning Seed as a whole.

You may have also read some of the discussions on the unofficial Facebook groups. Passionate discussion is what drives our community but this can also lead to speculation and misinformation such as our event location moving. While we have explored other locations in the past (mainly due to the flooding last year), there are no plans at this time to move Burning Seed from Matong State Forest. We have a strong relationship with the traditional landowners and local community and are involved in the local arts scene, helped plant thousands of trees through Red Earth Ecology and assisted NSW Forestry with weed control to name but a few of our contributions.

We can assure you that any changes to the way Burning Seed is run or to details of the event, including the location, will always be communicated via our official channels - the Burning Seed official Facebook page and the Burning Seed website. If it doesn’t originate from one of these channels, it’s not official.

Burning Seed this year was the best yet. Our community of participants and volunteer crews came together to help the event run smoothly and ensured it was a great success. We are blown away by the support, love and hard work from our community, artists, theme camps, crew and everyone that makes Burning Seed special.

Burn Bright

Police getting involved with the Burning Seed community. Photo by Haylin Waitere of Oasis Theme Camp

Posted in Blog, News, Ten principles.