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‘Black Lives Matter’ carved into Nevada desert in 1,500-foot-tall letters

Updated August 7, 2020 - 12:30 pm

Someone used a vehicle to carve a massive “Black Lives Matter” statement into the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada.

Esteban Valle of Reno told the Review-Journal that he saw a photo of the political message in the desert on social media and drove to the Black Rock Playa, near the site of the Burning Man festival, with some friends and confirmed it was real.

“I’ve been researching and it might be a world record,” Valle said of the size of the statement, which he said was more than 4 miles in length. “I think it might be the largest piece of art. And my research suggests the outer circle would be visible from space to the naked eye if it were more of a contrasted color.”

A Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman confirmed the existence of the message.

“The mural was placed on the playa within the Black Rock-High Rock Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area,” said Chelsea McKinney of the BLM. “There is no law enforcement action occurring related to its placement.”

McKinney did not respond to further questions on the matter.

Letters 1,500 feet tall

Valle called the message “phenomenal and fantastic.” The outer circle of the message is 4.2 miles in diameter, or about 13.5 miles in circumference, he said.

The actual text, each character is about 1,500 feet tall, or roughly one-third of a mile.

“We brought a drone with us and sent it up twice, but the thing is so massive,” Valle said. “We got it up to 1,600 feet off the ground, but at that elevation you could only see one or two characters.”

Valle said, “We drove the strokes of the letters that spelled out ‘Black Lives Matter.’ That took a little over 25 miles, about two hours or so.”

Valle said he didn’t consider the message vandalism.

“They didn’t really upset the playa surface,” he said of the creator or creators. “It is strictly just tire vehicle marks. If you think about it, during Burning Man, everyone drives on the playa. It’s gonna wash away like all the other tracks do eventually.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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