19th August 2023:
“We will make it impossible to own an SUV in the world’s urban areas.“
Around 60 Land Rover’s had their tyres punctured at a dealership in Exeter by a Bristol based Tyre Extinguishers group on 7th August. This represents a significant ramping up of action by this group which up until now has been targeting residential SUVs in Bristol, the city where more SUVs are targeted than any other city in the world (see here for an impressive list of the Bristol group’s actions). The group said it was a necessary escalation and a retaliatory response to the killing of two children in an SUV accident earlier this year (see e.g. here).
I’m a supporter of tyre extinguishers generally, and I like what these autonomous groups have been doing all over the UK, and Europe. Labelling SUVs ‘Climate Criminals’ as in the picture above, or letting down tyres, is, in my view, justified for a whole load of reasons that I won’t go into. What’s more, the number of groups springing up and the number of actions is definitely rising. Looking at a twitter feed that publicises Tyre Extinguisher actions (see here), shows up the following recent actions:
- 29 Nov 2022: 900 SUVS HIT IN 8 COUNTRIES IN HUGE NIGHT OF ANTI-SUV ACTION
- Nov 2022, LONDON: 184 SUVS DEFLATED ACROSS WEST LONDON ON MONDAY EVENING.
- July 2022: BERLIN, GERMANY: 50 SUVS HIT LAST NIGHT.
- Mar 2022, BELGIUM: NEARLY 200 SUVS DISARMED LAST NIGHT IN BRUSSELS AND GHENT.
- Mar 2022: 40 SUVS DEFLATED IN EDINBURGH NEW TOWN WITH VOW TO CONTINUE.
- Apr 2022: FIRST ACTION IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: 43 SUVS DISARMED.
- June 2022: NEW: 600+ SUVS DEFLATED IN NINE COUNTRIES LAST NIGHT IN GLOBAL NIGHT OF ACTION AGAINST POLLUTING VEHICLES.
And it goes on. In fact, since March 2022 the group have hit 20,000 SUVs worldwide. I mean, that’s amazing, inspiring, heart warming, and it fills me with hope. While I do not want to encourage or incite anyone into breaking the law, Tyre Extinguishers are inspiring grassroots action against the SUV industry and personally, I love it. It’s great to see people taking personal responsibility, bypassing the system, and just hitting the streets to protect genuine community, the air we breathe, and life on earth.
What’s more, they are proving effective, with even the Daily Telegraph advising its readers not to buy SUVs as a result (see image below).
But at the same time I couldn’t help but feel that the messaging the Bristol group are giving out in this action is unwise, and I hope that in time they will correct it and take more care over their publicity.
They called the targeting of the Land Rover dealership a retaliatory action for the killing of two children in Wimbledon earlier in the year by an SUV. But what has the Land Rover dealership in Exeter got to do with the accident that happened in Wimbledon – are we going to target kitchen knife manufacturers because their knives are used to stab people? The reasoning isn’t sound. The group say that SUV’s are 8 times more likely to kill people in an accident than normal cars, but that isn’t really a reason to target them. I mean, you’re more likely to kill someone on a bicycle than a skateboard, but that isn’t a reason not to ride a bicycle. The messaging here is confused, and has drifted away from the legitimate reasons why SUVs should be targeted.
Accidents are always going to happen, and using an accident as a reason to target a car dealership is not going to win admirers, especially when there are already well established reasons to target them, reasons around which there is a growing consensus building. Worse, it turns out that the person driving the SUV that killed the two children in Wimbledon had parked her car as she started having a seizure. Unfortunately, as the seizure progressed and she lost consciousness her foot involuntarily spasmed on the accelerator and the SUV drove forward into the school playground striking multiple children (see here). A genuinely tragic accident, and it really highlights why you shouldn’t use accidents as a reason to target a dealership. It doesn’t respect the grieving families either, to use the deaths of their children as a reason for this action. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want that, and I doubt they were asked, and that seems very disrespectful to them. Better to leave them and the memory of their children alone.
So I’d like to see this line of reasoning being dropped, as it’s wildly inappropriate. There are good, well established reasons, reasons supported by many health and environmental NGOs, to target SUVs, reasons that people around the world agree with, and I hope the group can stick with the consensus narrative in future, and not muddy the waters by turning the tragic deaths of two children into a war of retribution.
On a totally different note, I’m writing this blog in my local library, and got the following notice when I typed in ‘Tyre Extinguisher’s’ into the search engine:
This Web Page Has Been Blocked
You have tried to access a web page which is in violation of the City & County of Swansea’s internet usage policy. You can view the full policy at www.swansea.gov.uk/bookacomputer .
Category: Extremist Groups
Client IP: 172.20.22.57
Server IP: 220.127.116.11
User name: SW481748
Group name: gFortinet_Web_Adult
Extremist groups – really? We are truly living in an era of mindless conformity.