Vigilante climate activist group deflates Bay Area SUV tires

“WARNING – Your gas guzzler kills. We’ve deflated one or more of your tires. You’ll be angry, but don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s your car.

Letters placed on windshields, along with said deflated tires, are what greeted several Bay Area drivers on the morning of July 5. The letters contained a message written by an international group that deflates the tires of SUVs and other larger vehicles in the name of fighting climate change.

“We did this because driving through urban areas in your massive vehicle has huge consequences for others,” the flyer says. “We are taking action in our hands because our governments and politicians won’t.”

The incidents took place in Vacaville and quickly went viral via Facebook and Reddit posts. This is the first known case of members of Tire Extinguishers, the group responsible for tire deflation in California. The UK-based band made their US debut in recent weeks deflating tires in Chicago, New York and Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“As far as we know, this is the first action in the Bay Area – the first of many!” Marion Walker, spokeswoman for Tire Extinguishers, said in an email to SFGATE. According to Walker, the self-contained nature of the group prevents other members from knowing who is deflating tires and where.

This letter was left on the windshields of SUVs in Vacaville.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Martin-Sierra.

Vacaville Police Department Lt. Katie Cardona said the department received a July 5 report of a tire on a resident’s Honda Pilot SUV deflated overnight.

“We are aware that there are reports of additional tire deflations on social media, but these have not been brought to our attention,” Cardona told SFGATE. She added that the incident involving the Honda Pilot is being investigated as a case of vehicle tampering, which is a misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Although tire extinguishers claim to target SUVs in urban areas – “You’ll have no trouble getting around without your gas guzzler on foot, bike or public transit,” the flyer says – the group’s first deflations in the Bay Area took place in a largely impassable region. suburban neighborhood.

“We encourage people to target affluent urban areas, but SUVs are a threat everywhere. It’s an emergency,” Walker said. Facebook and Reddit users were furious over the posted photos of the flyer, which drew thousands of comments on both platforms.

“If they do this to my car that I need to drive a whole 45 minutes to work and 45 minutes back from work at 10 p.m. when no public transport is running, well… [I’m] willing to take a week off to hunt them down and make sure whatever they use to slash tires gets impaled on their bodies somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine,” a disgruntled Reddit user commented. (Police said there were no reports of tire vandalism, and the Tire Extinguishers website only tells people how to deflate tires, not how to cut or damage them.)

The Tire Extinguishers posted on their website yesterday that 12 SUVs had deflated tires in Vacaville and encouraged members to avoid “cars clearly used for disabled people, tradesmen’s cars (even if they are large), minibuses and normal size cars. ”

“We want to make it impossible to own an SUV in urban areas around the world. Deflating tires repeatedly and encouraging others to do the same will turn the minor inconvenience of a flat tire into a giant obstacle to driving massive killer vehicles down our streets,” Walker said.

Maria R. Newman