Propaganda-psychological warfare-has been around ever since the early agricultural cities of the Fertile Crescent began quarreling and pushing each other around. Half of your battle is won when your enemy is afraid of you.

Propaganda is a good way for the monkeywrencher to not only present her message to the public, but also to cause sleepless nights for the black-hearted Freddies, developers, subdividers, gutless politicians, sleazy advertisers, and others. Besides the well-known act of cutting down billboards, other entertain­ing ideas in this chapter can leave the evil ones sweating and sleepless in their beds.


Monkeywrenchers are rarely called upon to enforce the law, but with the lack of proper enforcement of environmental legislation, vigilante action is increas­ingly easy to justify. A clear-cut case is the subversion of the 1965 Highway Beautification Act by the outdoor advertising industry. This law, intended to eliminate the roadside clutter of billboards, has been systematically gutted by an industry that flouts environmental and highway safety concerns. Although American taxpayers have spent millions to pay for the removal of these eye­sores, the sign companies have gone so far as to use the tax dollars paid them to remove signs to erect new signs. Billboard industry lobbyists in Washington have insured that appropriations for sign removal are pared down to the level where new sign construction outstrips removal by a factor of three to one.

Several factors underscore the civic-minded nature of billboard-cutting.

First, all billboards within 660 feet of the highway are technically in violation of federal law, although the sign companies have unabashedly used loopholes to circumvent enforcement.

Second, with unprecedented federal budget deficits, Congress is not likely to allocate tax money sufficient to the task. The billboard-cutter will not only aid in law enforcement, but will contribute to the patriotic task of keeping a lid on federal spending. In addition, every time a billboard falls, a landscape is created.

Last, and perhaps most important, studies in Minnesota and New York have proven that sign-free highways are safer. The incidence of highway accidents was found to be related to the number of billboards and the distractions they provide to drivers. In short, roadside advertising is a threat to public safety.

The clandestine battle against this roadside blight began in 1958 as the bill­board lobby successfully defeated an early attempt to regulate signs. In June of that year, unidentified billboarders, enjoying popular support, cut down seven signs outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A dozen years later, a group called the Billboard Bandits systematically sawed down close to two hundred signs in Michigan. These six high school students, one a senior class presi­dent, were arrested in mid-1971 for destroying numerous billboards. They were stopped on the main street of a small town where police found a saw and an ax in the trunk of their car. After a failed attempt to prove the signs (not the sign cutting) illegal, the youths pled no contest to one count of malicious destruction of property and each was given a suspended jail sentence, three ­and-a-half months probation, and a $150 fine.

The lessons from this case are many. Six young men driving through a small town at night will likely draw interest from the police anywhere. In the previous three weeks, 35 signs had been downed in the area, and police were on the lookout for suspects. This case shows clearly why tools not in use must be locked away. When police ask to search your vehicle, the answer must be a polite but firm "No." They may threaten to take you to jail or hold you until a search warrant can be obtained, but you must not give in to this intimidation. Once you consent to a search, anything found can be used to convict you. If the police conduct an illegal search, any evidence found can be excluded from use against you. (On the positive side in this case, by pleading "no contest," the teenagers avoided an admission that could have led to a civil liability.)

Other billboarders active in the early seventies included "Americans for a Scenic Environment," who once replaced a downed sign with a small tree. During 1976-77, the "Vigilante Sign Committee" in Jackson, Wyoming, dropped every highway billboard in Teton County. In Arizona, a group called the "Eco­raiders" cut down numerous billboards around Tucson. According to one mem­ber, "If enough billboards are cut down, it will become prohibitively expensive to advertise that way."

Effective sign-cutting requires a three-member team: a driver and two cut­ters. With four, your cutting team can have a lookout who can alternate with the cutters in shifts. A five-member team is the largest size for safe opera­tions and permits two teams of cutters and consequently faster work at the target site.

Only work with friends ideologically committed to uncompromising defense of Earth. Billboarding is excellent preparation and training for more advanced forms of monkeywrenching. Those simply looking for excitement and action lack the necessary depth of commitment. All must be willing to study, learn, and discuss the essential issues facing all Earth defenders.

Target Selection

Your first billboard raid should be an easy target in a remote location, far from any houses, but with good access. Limit yourself to one sign the first few times out. Group morale is built upon success, so insure that the first few jobs come off without a hitch. Only after learning efficient teamwork should you consider more complex targets like billboard clusters, lighted signs, or sign company headquarters in urban areas.

Once you are ready to begin your sign-cutting campaign in earnest, com­mence information gathering. Map your potential targets in enough detail that you need only a quick drive-by to confirm the current accuracy of your data and to note any changes. This limits your exposure to possibly suspicious people while scouting for new targets. Land owners who rent space to sign companies, as do many farmers and ranchers, will be on the alert once the signs begin dropping. Get information as far in advance as possible.

Avoid operating in one area excessively. Police, security guards, and beer­guzzling posses will be alerted and may stake out possible targets in the hope of apprehending you. It's best to hit several signs in an area one night and wait at least a few weeks before hitting the area again. Time is on your side and there is no shortage of targets. Wear the opposition down slowly.



Some billboarders favor crosscut saws, the type used by loggers of old. Others use a D-frame (bow) saw commonly found in hardware stores. If you use this type, carry one or more spare blades. An ax can be used to notch the poles on the side of the intended fall, but be careful of the noise, especially near houses.


Safety in billboarding is of utmost importance. Think of the sign as a giant fly-swatter and yourself as the bug. Never stand in the area where a sign can fall (front or back). Watch a sign closely the entire time you are cutting. Leave the outermost poles for last.

A good pair of safety goggles, available at hardware stores, stops sawdust from getting in your eyes. Goggles are essential for contact lens wearers. Remember that goggles are reflective. Always pull them off your face before looking at passing cars.


Use the drop and pickup technique described in Basic Security in the Secu­rity chapter to get to the target sign.

When sawing, duck while cars pass if they can see you in the periphery of their headlights. Stop periodically to listen for any indication of discovery.

Felling is accomplished by pushing on the outermost poles, aided sometimes with ropes. See the illustrations. Use the rope(s) only for monkeywrenching since you may have to abandon it if your work is disrupted-you don't want it accumulating fibers, dirt, and oil stains that can link it with your home or work­place. Store it in a plastic trash bag between jobs.

Dropping a billboard face-up will allow you to inflict additional damage by spray-painting across the front of the advertisement.

Sign companies are adding protective metal strips to the sides of wooden poles to prevent cutting. Carry a crowbar to remove these; or where possible, dig dirt away from around the base of each support and cut the wood below the protective metal.

Billboarding is dirty work. Evidence that may remain with you may include bits of brush on clothing, and dirt and sawdust on boots. If you wear dark cov­eralls, remove them before the pickup and wrap your tools in them. Deposit this bundle in a locked trunk or camper shell in case you are stopped by a curi­ous policeman. After a night's work, clean off your boots and launder your clothes. Vacuum your car trunk, seats, and floor carpets. Drop the vacuum cleaner bag in a dumpster or public trash can, never in your home trash.

Metal Posts

Metal posts are becoming common, no doubt partly in response to the popu­larity of billboard monkeywrenching. A skilled team using a cutting torch could probably fell the smaller ones, but security problems would make this method extremely hazardous. The larger ones, which have a single tubular steel post sometimes several feet in diameter, are simply not practical for felling.

These billboards are susceptible to other forms of monkeywrenching, such as paint bombs and slogan alteration (described later). In addition, most large billboards are lighted at night, and may have an electric meter and one or more electrical boxes affixed to one of the posts. Smash the meter and boxes with a large rock or sledge (stand back and be careful not to electrocute yourself).

It has been suggested that tubular-metal billboard posts could be rusted out with acid. Muriatic acid (an impure form of hydrochloric acid sometimes used as a swimming pool cleaner) and battery acid (sulfuric) have both been sug­gested. A clay dam could be constructed around the post to contain the acid, or a hole could be drilled into the post and the acid poured in. This technique has not been field tested, as far as we know.

Other Targets

The headquarters of sign companies, located in every urban area, provide other targets. Additional techniques discussed in Ecodefense may prove suitable for making your point at these locations.

You might also plan action against the businesses that buy the billboard advertising space. Give them a warning, by phone, several months in advance. When the deadline passes and no remedial action is evident, bide your time since this will be their time of greatest vigilance. Do not contact them by phone again since they might tape record or attempt to trace a second call. Strike a few months later. A variety of actions, ranging from egg-throwing at a car dealer's latest models to lock-jamming, might discourage an advertiser from using the towering eyesores that make our highways unsafe.

Chain Saw

The use of chain saws for billboarding is usually too dangerous due to the incredible racket they make. Nonetheless, extremely remote signs (miles from the nearest dwelling) and masking weather conditions (wind blowing strongly or heavy rainfall) have brought out sign-cutters armed with these labor-saving devices. One must be particularly alert for passing cars when using a chain saw.

Safety is the primary consideration with chain saws, regardless of their use. Before using one to fell a sign, you should be able to operate it safely blind­folded, since the dark of the night adds to the danger. This is not a tool for novices. You should wear a safety helmet, goggles, heavy gloves, and steel-­toed boots.

With your first cut, remove a wedge of wood from the side towards which you want the sign to fall. Repeat this on all poles, always starting in the center and working out to the ends. The "felling" cut is made as shown in the illustration. Don't cut through the "hinge" of wood between the two cuts. Always cut the outer poles last because they will support the sign while you work. Wear ear protectors to prevent the whine of the saw from deadening your ability to detect suspicious sounds. Remove them during security pauses to ensure that your work is still undetected.

The nation is ready for a new generation of "highwaymen." Billboard vigi­lantes are needed now more than ever.





* Axes might leave microscopic marks on the wood that can be matched to a specific ax in the possession of a suspect. Saw marks, on the other hand, are usually impossible to match up. Like files and grinding wheels, their surfaces are constantly changing, and so are the marks they leave.

* Some billboard bandits have made their own chain saw mufflers. These have been four times as large as the stock muffler, but absorb almost the entire engine sound-90 percent quieter. If you're mechanically inclined, you might try making your own heavy duty muffler.


* Billboards should be chopped up after felling. Otherwise, they are just put back up. The best method is for one person to split it down the middle with an ax. Others should stand far away. It is too dangerous to have a couple of people wielding axes close together in the dark.

* Watch out for guy wires coming down from large billboards. They are diffi­cult to see in the dark. Billboard bandits running to the next billboard or away from car lights have run into these and suffered injury.

Billboard Trashing

Billboards and other targets can be "painted" by the following simple method:

From a large paint supply store or hardware store, buy a gallon of a common brand of oil-based house paint and a gallon of paint thinner. Select a light color for dark targets and vice versa. From a grocery store buy several pairs of latex gloves and the thinnest sandwich-type plastic bags you can find (again, a major name brand). From the dumpster in back of the grocery store or a liquor store, get a cardboard box that contains a cardboard divider (used for separating glass jars of food or bottles of liquor).

Find a secure location to prepare your "paint bags." An outdoor location allows a little sloppiness in the preparation. If you are working indoors, spread a thick layer of newspaper about your work area. Dispose of the newspaper and incriminating paint spots by burning them or dropping them in a dumpster in back of a business.

In an empty milk carton or similar disposable container, mix a 50/50 batch of paint and thinner. Thinning the paint assures maximum spatter. Don your plastic gloves and open the box of sandwich bags. Lay out several for filling. Use a piece of heavy paper to improvise a funnel and pour the paint into the first bag. Do not fill it more than one-fourth to one-third full. Carefully tie the top shut, leaving as little air in the bag as possible. Do not use the twist-ties that come with some bags since the wire inside them can easily poke a hole in the bags.

Line the inside of the cardboard box with a plastic trash bag or two and rein­sert the cardboard divider. Make sure the plastic bags have only been touched with gloved hands (the same goes for the box and divider-all of these surfaces hold fingerprints). The plastic liner will keep a leaky bag from running all over you or your car.

Carefully insert the paint bag into one of the segments of the divider. The cardboard divider keeps the bags from sloshing around and makes them easy to retrieve when the time comes.

Repeat the above procedures until you have as many paint bags as you need, with a couple to spare.

Throw the paint bags at an angle from the side of the billboard so that they spatter away from you, rather than splashing back on you. Decorate vehicles, buildings, and even interiors (after tossing a heavy rock through the window first).

At your earliest opportunity, check your skin, hair, and clothes to make sure you bear no incriminating paint. Keep a small can of paint thinner and some rags on hand just in case.



* Screw-lid small bottles (like those for Mickey's Malt Liquor) can also be used for paint "bombs." Keep in mind that greater force is needed to break these than paint bags. Don't forget about possible fingerprints on the bottle and the lid.

• Glass Christmas tree ornaments make good paint bombs which break eas­ily. Remove the base, pour in paint, and seal with duct tape. Avoid finger­prints!

• Eggs are also very effective paint bombs. Insert a needle in the top of a large raw egg, gently breaking away a small amount of shell, and then stir up the yolk and white. Poke another hole in the same end of the egg, about an inch from the first hole. Blow through the second hole so that the yolk and white come out the first hole. Have an omelet! Pour your paint/thinner mixture into a thin-nozzled, screw-top bottle (such as catsup comes in at restaurants). Seal the second hole in the egg with a pasty mixture of flour and water, or can­dle wax. Pour in the paint through the first hole and seal it. You now have a perfect-sized, semi-biodegradable missile.

-BUGA UP, Sydney, Australia

• Another proven spattering technique uses a pressurized water-type fire extinguisher. Empty out the contents and relieve all of the pressure inside. Next, open the top and use a funnel to pour in a well-stirred 50/50 blend of paint and thinner or the preferred water and acrylic-type house paint. Pressurize the extinguisher secretly at a gas station; watch the pressure gauge to know when to stop. Use this spray gun to deface billboard ads. Do not attempt to cover the sign face, but make the most of your paint. Clean the extinguisher out after each use or it will clog up.

• When using either the sprayer or paint bags, be sure to wear grubby clothes (Goodwill is a good source. of cheap clothes) or inexpensive coveralls, since you will occasionally get spattered with paint. Keep your hair pulled under a hat to keep out paint. A dark, wide-brimmed hat provides further splash protection.

• Some experienced billboard trashers prefer balloons over paint bags. Buy good quality, medium-sized, round balloons. Mix paint 50/50 with thinner. Attach the balloon to one end of a 5 or 6 foot section of old 1/2 inch hose or tubing, and put a small funnel in the other end (or use something with a spout to pour). With the balloon end down, pour thinned paint into the funnel. Cradle the balloon gently in your hands. The weight of the paint in the 5 or 6 feet of hose will cause the balloon to expand and fill with paint. Fill to desired throwing size. Quickly pull off, pinch closed, and tie off tightly. Wipe your fingerprints off softly with a cloth or, better yet, wear gloves while filling. Store the balloons together in a cardboard box lined with plastic. Paint balloons are fairly sturdy, last for weeks, can be carried upside down and in many different containers (even gently in a large pocket), and really work!

* You've no doubt seen ads for an adult toy called a water balloon launcher. It's a giant slingshot designed to be operated by three people and can hurl a liquid-filled balloon up to 120 yards. With practice, these things are even rea­sonably accurate. It's available from Winger Sports, 1306 W County Road, Suite 110, Arden Hills, MN.

Billboard Revision

Even more persuasive than felling, burning, or spattering billboards is revis­ing them. A group in Sydney, Australia, BUGA UP (Billboard Utilizing Graffi­tists Against Unhealthy Promotions) has turned the revision of billboards into a major campaign.

Even if you only paint one billboard a week, you'll cost the corporations between $500 and $5,000 per year, depending on your thoroughness; and, of course, money is the only language billboard advertising companies under­stand. Nothing will get those ads down faster than if their profits are reduced by escalating maintenance costs. Still more important than this financial fac­tor is the effect that the revised ad will have on those who read it.

Select a billboard that 1) advertises a product from a notorious eco-raper (ORVs, for example), or 2) lends itself well to being transformed into an envi­ronmental message.

Purchase your can(s) of spray paint as discussed in the section on spray painting. For billboards, black and chrome are the most versatile colors, but red, blue, purple, and white are also good for some billboards.

Break down the power of the billboard ad by answering it, looking at the space available and the way in which the words and images lend themselves to addition, alteration, or comment. Humor is extremely effective in exposing the advertiser's real intentions-turning the ad's message back on itself. Finally ­do not make spelling mistakes!

If the offending billboard proves too high to reach, either get a ladder or build a spray can extension rod:

Obtain a broom handle or another solid, strong but lightweight wooden pole (see illustration, #1). At one end, cut out a wedge, half the width of the pole. Fit a flat metal bar to the remaining wood (#2). About one foot from this bar (or the height of your spray can), attach a support clamp on which the can will rest (#3). Fit an angle bracket on each side of the pole, about 8 inches from the end (#4). The spray can should fit between these brackets. Tie a length of plastic coated wire to the flat metal bar (#2) and feed it through a hole in the support clamp (#3) and screw eyes attached the length of the pole (#5). This wire, when pulled, will press down the nozzle of the spray can and paint will spray out. An optional extra is the roll-top of a deodorant bottle, fitted to the support clamp (#6). This will help maintain an even distance between the spray can and billboard. You may have to experiment a bit to get the right measurements to fit a can of spray paint.

You will find these spray paint can extension rods clumsy to use at first, but with practice they become very effective.





* Here is a British technique for revising billboards by enlarging a graphic you have on an 8 1 /2 by 11 inch (regular size) sheet of paper to something large enough for a billboard. You need access to a photocopy machine that enlarges 200% or, better yet, 400%.

Put your graphic on a standard sized sheet of paper. On the reverse side of the sheet, draw lines dividing it into quarters and then sixteenths. Cut the sheet of paper up along these lines so that you have sixteen little bits of paper-a jigsaw puzzle of your graphic. Enlarge each of these on a photocopy machine by 395% (not 400% or you may lose some of the graphic off the edges). Now you have sixteen large sheets of your cut-up graphic. Put it back together and your original graphic is sixteen times the size of your original.

Paste them all together indoors with water-soluble glue (like you used in ele­mentary school). Round the edges, redo bits in colored paper, touch up with paint-your imagination sets the limits.

Make paste from white flour and water. A ready assembled graphic can be pasted up in less than 3 minutes on a billboard.

If you can only get a copier that goes 200%, quarter the picture, blow it up, then quarter each quarter again.

If you want to fit something over an irregular sized picture, measure the original and work backwards. A 50% reduction is the reverse of a 200% enlargement. Draw up a scale of what you want to revise and see how to fit sheets of paper into it. Stare at it long enough and it becomes apparent.

For lettering, use a computer printer to do the alphabet, one letter per sheet of paper. These are your originals. When you want a slogan, use a copier to blow up each one-letter sheet.

-T. Hearne

Burning Billboards

It is important to remove billboards. It is also important not to get caught (so we can remove more billboards). I have always felt that burning billboards (particularly in desert situations) is most effective. But it is somewhat "revealing" when a 50 foot high sign explodes in front of your very eyes, and those of who knows who else, lighting up everything around for half a mile. But there is a solution.

SCORE hair cream and swimming pool cleaner. I'm completely serious. My friend Oscar explained it to me. Now I will tell you. Here are the ingredients you will need:

1 envelope

1 tube SCORE hairdressing

1 canister "HTH dry chlorinator" (accept no substitutes).

Squirt about one and one-half inches of SCORE gel in one end of the enve­lope. In the other end, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of HTH (it's granulated chlorine and will also clear up your sinuses if you get too close). Now, fold the envelope in the middle so the contents can't mix ... yet.

Go forth into the night and find a billboard that particularly deserves crema­tion. Liberally douse the posts with gasoline. Now, it is time for the envelope. Unfold it and let the HTH mix with the SCORE. In fact, mush it up real good with your fingers (on the outside of the envelope, you idiot). Place the package at the base of the soaked post, get in your truck, and drive away.

Four to five minutes later, about the time you're saying, "Yes, a pitcher of Bud, please," the envelope will start to smoke and hiss and produce a horrid, acrid aroma (air pollution) followed by intense heat and... Eureka! ...spontan­eous combustion. The flames race up the post spreading rapidly in the dry desert heat.

The next day you drive by and chuckle. But a word of warning: practice with this stuff first. It takes a while to get the right mixture. If it's not just right, it may simply smoke a lot. Remember, practice makes perfect.

-the Head of Joaquin


This delayed-action fire starter can be used for burning things other than billboards, too. Check the section on burning heavy machinery in the Vehicles and Heavy Equipment chapter.

Practice and experimentation are essential with this technique. In some tests, the "starter" ignited not much over 30 seconds after mixing. Even such a short time might give someone a chance to get far enough away from the tar­get to avoid being seen, however.

The active ingredient of "HTH dry chlorinator' is calcium hypochlorite. Other brands containing this ingredient may work; test them first.

SCORE hair gel and HTH (swimming pool cleaner) are better segregated in Zip Lock bags. You can use a small bag tie to keep them apart in transit. The bag won't tear like an envelope when mixing. The reaction is totally exother­mic, so no air is necessary for the reaction to proceed. If the chemicals are cool, you have more escape time.


Previous editions of Ecodefense have given attention to the use of paint in monkeywrenching operations. However, not much has been said about paint removers. Here are some updates of products which must have been formu­lated with ecodefenders in mind.

1. 3M Corporation manufactures a water-based, non-caustic paint remover called "Safest Stripper." This marvelous product does not burn your skin or dissolve plastic (conventional petroleum-based paint removers do), yet is powerful enough to destroy the finish on a car.

One of the nice features of Safest Stripper is its ability to cling to vertical surfaces (doors, walls, signs). When applied, it looks like thick white pudding. Since it does not dissolve plastic, the standard paint delivery systems (plastic bags, balloons, jars) will work. When tossing paint stripper bags, put some muscle into your throw; the thick consistency of the stripper might act as a cushion, preventing breakage of the bag. After three hours, the coating looks as though it has dried and is no longer active. Don't let appearances fool you-Safest Stripper remains active up to 30 hours after application. When someone tries to remove the crusty white coating by scrubbing or scraping, the paint will come off and bare metal or other material will be exposed.

Safest Stripper is sold in most hardware stores for $15 to $18 per gallon. It's easy to find-it's the only paint stripper sold in plastic containers.

2. Dupli-Color (an automotive touch-up paint manufacturer) markets "ST-100 Paint Stripper," a petroleum-based paint remover sold in spray cans. This stripper is spectacular. When sprayed on the finish of a car, the reaction is almost instantaneous-within 30 minutes, bare metal is exposed. ST-100 does not hold well on vertical surfaces: if applied to a door, wall, or sign, a very unsightly mess will be created quickly as the paint and paint stripper run down the surface. ST-100 is sold in most large automotive parts stores, particularly those which specialize in paint. One can (11 ounces) will cost about $4.



* Brake fluid will remove the paint on cars and trucks. It comes in handy squeeze bottles.

Etching Cream

Glass etching cream is a wonderful tool for monkeywrenchers. My favorite thing to do with it is to paint slogans and messages on windows and wind­shields. Unlike paint, etching stays until the glass is replaced. Sometimes, though, an etching cream bomb is better.

For an etching cream bomb, try an egg. Xmas tree ornaments won't work because the cream will etch away the ornament before you can throw it. Put a new blade in your x-acto knife. Score a circle about 1" - 1 1/2" diameter around the pointed end of the egg. After scoring deeply, make little holes around the scored circle. The end of the egg should then lift off easily. Dump out the egg (use it later) and rinse out the shell. Dry. Carefully spoon in the etching cream. Then lay a small piece of tissue paper on top. Melt some wax and paint it over the tissue and seal the edges down to the egg. Add another coat of wax after that one dries.

This can all be done without leaving fingerprints by wearing thin cotton jewel­ers gloves-available cheap by the dozen from jewelry supply companies like Rio Grande (1-800-545-6566).

Put the finished egg back in the carton for transport. When thrown with conviction, these little dudes leave a large and explosive design on the window of a fur dealer or other land and critter raper.

-Bob Wire




Most Americans do not realize that commercial logging takes place in their National Forests. They believe that the Forest Service protects the Forest. In the early and mid-1980s, Earth First! used the Smokey the Bear Chainsaw Let­ter to educate National Forest campground users about what was really hap­pening on their National Forests.

These 8 1/2" by 11" posters (see illustration) were stapled or tacked to the bulletin boards in Forest Service campgrounds, picnic areas, trailheads, Ranger stations, etc. Some particularly nasty wilderness fanatics kept a box of "Smokeys" and a staple gun in their vehicle at all times and struck at every Freddie bulletin board they saw.

The chainsaw letters infuriated Freddie timber beasts. In fact, after we started using them, the Forest Service sent out a memo nationally to all their offices inquiring where they were coming from.

Since then, there have been dozens of variations on this theme. Use your own creativity and artistic ability.

Of course you should be careful in putting such posters up, since the Forest Service would be more than happy to give someone a ticket for "defacing gov­ernment property." Also, anyone caught doing this type of low-key monkey­wrenching would automatically become a suspect for more serious ecotage incidents in the vicinity.



* Using staples or tacks to attach your posters to bulletin boards allows easy removal by zealous Freddies. Instead, coat the back of the paper using a can of permanent spray mount (available from art supply houses). Or use paste made from white flour and water. This, too, makes it difficult to remove the poster.


Make authentic looking signs to protect your favorite wild places:

Closed to Vehicles-Violators Subject to Arrest

Germ Warfare Research Zone-Do Not Enter

US Air Force Bombing Range-Live Ammo-Keep Out-Violators Subject to Arrest

Road Closed-Landslide Ten Miles Ahead

Some yellow tape and a sign reading "Crime Scene" is another way to close an area. Better yet is to find some "crime scene" tape used by police. On "For Sale" signs, simply place a large "Sold" sign. Observe all security precautions in making and placing these signs (no fingerprints or materials that can be traced).



Earth First! borrowed this tool from the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies). "Silent Agitators" were merely little stickers that a Wob could stick up on a wall or on a piece of machinery in a plant. Other workers and the man­agement would then know that the IWW was present and watching.

Earth First! Silent Agitators originally came in two varieties (see illustration) and proved to be very popular. The "Coors" agitators were placed in the rest rooms of bars that served Rocky Mountain Mouse Piss, and they educated other beer drinkers about the demented politics of the Coors outfit.



    The other agitators, featuring the Earth First! "fist" logo were placed wherever people wanted to leave a message that the rape of Earth would be resisted. They proved particularly effective in Forest Service offices and more than a few were found in police paddy wagons and jails. During the 1983 Bald Mountain road blockade in Oregon, silent agitators were a constant means of psychological warfare against Freddie bureaucrats. The District Ranger finally began locking the rest room in the District office because he was tired of having to look at a silent agitator reading "No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth" every time he took a leak. Forest Service personnel had to get the key to the bathroom from him and he would check afterward to make sure nothing had been stuck on the wall.

Silent Agitators are extremely easy to design and have printed. Since the original Earth First! agitators, dozens of other designs and messages have been used by activists. Be creative and have some printed for your particular issue.



* Specialty silent agitators have included these:

1) A well designed dolphin sticker for putting on dolphin-unsafe cans of tuna (this was produced by an informant for the FBI!).

2) A round red sticker reading "KILLS Butterflies, Songbirds, Fish and their Babies" to be placed on bottles of Round-Up herbicide.

Correcting Forest Service Signs

This is for all of you frustrated artists who drive by the big "Land of Many Uses" signs and get pissed off because you know what the Forest Circus really means by that. Here is a way to make the signs more accurate.

Get a sheet of 1/4" plywood (thicker is fine, but heavier), some oil based yellow paint, nails, and glue. You will need a router to engrave the lettering, and a saber saw to cut out the curves.

Measure the sign you wish to modify. Using the plan illustrated, lay out and cut the (replacement) bottom of the sign. It will be in two pieces, since most plywood is only 8 feet long. Paint it with a yellow paint as close to the Forest Service color as possible. Then, lay out the lettering from the plan, and use the router to engrave it into the wood. Make the letters in the same style as the Forest Service lettering so it will look as much like the original as possible. Use a drill or a hole saw to put two 1-1/2" diameter holes in the board. These will accommodate the bolts which stick out of the existing sign. After the sign is finished, transport it as inconspicuously as possible to your target sign. Coat the back with glue. To hold it in place while the glue dries, use finishing nails. The corrected sign may not fit perfectly but driving by at 60 mph, most people probably won't even notice your correction! (Except you and me, of course.) Have fun with this. I hope to see corrected and accurate Forest Service signs as I travel.

-The Mad Engineer


* It is easier to simply alter one word: change "Uses" to "Abuses."




It has been said that the freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one. In this day and age the press is owned by the corporations and access to it is limited by them to sanitized viewpoints. No city newspaper will present true alternative ideas of "no-growth" or biocentrism, or opinions questioning control by the corporations. Fortunately, a can of spray paint and a little bold­ness gives anyone a press release that can reach thousands of people.

The limitation of spray paint is that you must reduce complex ideas to a few simple words: a slogan. In your slogan, express a complete idea in two to four words. Make your best slogan your hallmark and use it often.

More complex messages may be your only way of being quoted in the media (which likely will be staunchly opposed to your illegal actions). Nonetheless, these longer spray painted messages are secondary to your main slogan.

The use of initials, such as the initials of a clandestine organization, can also convey a strong message of resistance. First, however, they must be presented repeatedly with the full name spelled out until people and the media begin to make the association. The single letter "V" (for Victory), for example, was used by the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation during World War II. It was quick and easy to paint (and therefore safer) and carried a com­plete message: "RESIST!"

Slogans and programs can be presented through flyers and small signs, but this requires secure access to printing or photocopying equipment, and will reach only a small audience. Bumper stickers are difficult to apply without leaving fingerprints (you must wear gloves every time you handle them) and are not easily manufactured.

The slogan hastily painted on a wall in full view of auto traffic on a busy thor­oughfare, however, is the poor person's way of reaching a wider audience.

Your sloganeering operations should be as carefully planned and executed as any other type of clandestine endeavor (see the Security chapter). Do not spray paint walls belonging to private individuals since this will unjustly aggra­vate them. There are plenty of "public" walls to use as your "newspaper." (In certain cases, of course, you may want to spray paint walls belonging to par­ticular individuals or corporations.)

Select a common brand of spray paint that can be purchased through any number of retail stores or large discount houses. Shop at different places­ spread your business around! Look for the inexpensive plastic pistol-grip handles that can be mounted on any can of spray paint. These insure that the paint always sprays in the direction you want (not towards you!), even on the darkest night. A pouch worn on the belt is a good "hands-free" way of carrying it into the field.

If the target wall is in a busy location, the painter should be accompanied by at least one lookout. In quieter, or more rural locations, a painting team can consist of the painter and a driver, who will deliver her to the target area and retrieve her later (in five minutes, say). Rarely is it safe to just stop the car and go to work. A half-finished slogan and a fast retreating car can lead you into considerable trouble. A lot of novice sign painters suffer from the jitters and are responsible for the hasty, illegible scrawls you see on many walls. The person chosen for the job must have the presence of mind to do a neat job.

After a while, it will be easy for the police to recognize the "hand" of a single sloganeer. Vary the look of your work to make it appear that your slogan is being used by many people and represents a broad constituency. Switch from all capitals to all lower case, then to a blend of the two. Change painters ran­domly since everyone will do it a little differently. Change color now and then.

A planned program of controlled variation can give the appearance of sev­eral groups at work. One area may have slogans only in black, another in red or brown. One painter will slogan in one part of town, another in a different part. The slogans themselves can be changed and attributed to fictitious organiza­tions.

Radio communications via portable and mobile CB units can greatly aid in coordinating sloganeering efforts.

After a while, the opposition will discover that industrial strength paint removers will remove paint even from porous cement block walls. Sloganeer­ing again on the same target can be a good psychological warfare tactic, but risky.

Sloganeering is as dangerous as any other form of ecotage but should not be approached too timidly. Anyone can paint a few small slogans on out-of­the-way walls or signs. The opposition will take you far more seriously, though, if your choice of targets indicates competent boldness.

-Citizen Kane


• Thompson's Water Seal spread over your spray-painted slogan may render it more resistant to industrial strength paint removers. Using it, of course, complicates and lengthens the job, thereby making it more dangerous.

  If you are an enemy of the throw-away society, here's how to bring your message to an appropriate audience:

Dumpsters make fine "billboards" for our message, requiring only paint and perhaps a stencil. Large disposal companies like Waste Management Inc. (WMI) and Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) have dumpsters all over. (WMI's are maroon; BFI's are blue.) Good slogans to put on these companies' dump­sters would advocate curbside recycling-"Your garbage is polluting my neighborhood! Demand recycling now!" and "It's time to try recycling!"

This dumpstering will help fight the mindless creation of more landfills and trash incinerators. Ninety percent of our waste is recyclable, and the rest (Styrofoam, etc.) shouldn't be produced in the first place. If you use this technique to fight a new landfill or incinerator, you may want to alert trustwor­thy local media to a dumpster painting party-wear Reagan masks to protect your identity!

Organizations like Greenpeace (202-462-1177) and Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (703-276-7070) have published excellent reports docu­menting the crimes of the waste hauling giants. WMI has been fined more money for environmental violations than any other company.

• Here's a way to do a big paint job in a hurry. Obtain an empty disposable freon tank from your friendly refrigerator serviceman. Have him pull a vacuum on it (remove all the air). Get a few feet of pressure hose to fit the tank valve, two hose clamps, and a schrader valve (tire valve).

Clamp the hose to the tank. Mix a gallon or two of your favorite paint color to a spraying consistency. Dip the end of the hose into the paint, open the valve, and the paint will be drawn into the tank. Clamp the schrader valve in the hose and go to a gas station for compressed air (sometimes tire stores and truck stops have better pressure).

When you get to the job site, remove the core from the schrader valve with a core remover tool. The schrader valve will act as a restriction and nozzle to give you reach and to break up the stream. Turn the jug upside down, open the valve and spray at will. Have fun.


A stencil can be very useful to the monkeywrencher for spray painting small slogans or logos in certain places-for example, an anti-cow message on the ubiquitous "open range" or "cattle guard" highway signs. Several groups made stencils that spelled "Watt" during his tenure as Secretary of the Interior and sprayed stop signs with them. "MX" stencils were also used in the Great Basin during the period that the racetrack deployment mode for ICBMs was being promoted there. In some Great Basin towns, every stop sign said "Stop MX."

Before making your stencil, visualize what you want to say (or the logo you want to use), where you want to paint your message, how large it should be, etc. Linoleum is probably the best material from which to make a stencil. You can buy linoleum in various thicknesses, lengths, and widths at building sup­ply, hardware, or floor covering stores. Allow several inches of border around the cut-out message or logo on your piece of linoleum for sturdiness and to provide room to hold it so you won't spray paint your hands (or your partner's hands) while holding the stencil up to your target. (If you're using red paint, you can literally get caught red-handed this way!).

We've found that the soft, somewhat pliable 1/16 inch thick counter top material with an unbroken surface works the best. It's comparatively easy to cut, but substantial enough to lay flat against your target-which is important if you wish to leave a well-defined spray paint image. You want a vinyl or linoleum material that you can cut holes into with a utility knife and then hold up vertically against something without it dropping.


On the rougher side of your material, sketch your message or logo with a pencil and ruler, compass, or protractor. Don't get too elaborate unless you want to spend more than a couple of hours cutting it out. Remember, any line that encloses a space will cause that space to fall out, leaving a hole in the stencil. Narrow "tabs" must be left for parts of certain letters and numbers (A, B, D, O, P, Q, R, 6, 8, and 9, for example). You can buy pre-made stencil let­ters to use as guides in making your stencil.

The cutting takes some concentration and time. With a good utility knife, carefully cut at a 90 degree angle along your lines firmly and gently. Start slowly. As you gain practice, the cutting will go much quicker and easier. A metal straight edge is useful for straight lines. Miscuts can be glued. With use, numerous layers of paint will help hold it all together, too.


After cutting out your stencil, you will need a way to protect it during trans­port and to keep it from public view. It needs to be stored flat so that the longer, more narrow protrusions don't curl up. (Curled stencils allow the spray paint to blur.) A good method is to sandwich the stencil between two pieces of 1/4" plywood. It is also wise to place the slick side of another similar sized sheet of linoleum next to the painted side of your stencil. If you don't do this, your stencil can stick to the plywood (even though the paint feels dry, it may not be) and you may have a horrible mess the next time you try to extract your stencil for use. Even with the extra sheet of linoleum or vinyl, you should always try to let your stencil completely dry before placing it against anything. This whole assemblage can be stashed in a vehicle and it will be safe from damage and public view. With proper use and storage, your stencil should last for hundreds of applications.


High quality, quick drying lacquer or enamel spray paint is the best to use with a stencil. Gloss white is the most versatile and visible color, although other colors can be useful under the proper circumstances.

You should take the standard security measures, of course. Be particularly careful about fingerprints-spray paint records fingerprints all too well. Wear gloves while using the stencil and for touching whatever you are painting.

With your stencil completed, there's nothing left to do but use your imagina­tion. Go out and leave your message wherever appropriate.



A simple stencil can be made very easily, cheaply, and quickly out of thick art paper, very thin cardboard, or similar materials.


Chapter 7 Introduction Chapter 9

Direct Action