Nearly Lethal Protest
When Bush I invaded Kuwait, a number of billboards went up which were unusual. They had a black background and white print and no indication of who funded them.
One of these appeared in Richmond right beside the highway. I was visiting friends in the city and this had Jesse furious. As a Christian anarchist, this was singularly offensive to her.
Jesse spent some hours making an addition to this billboard. It read “Trust God? Obey him: Thou shall not kill” It was perhaps 20 feet long and a bit rough in terms of penmanship, but it got the job done. When she announced she was going to scale up the side of the towering billboard at 4 AM and put it up, i quickly volunteered to be part of the crew that was going to install it.
What most people don’t realize about billboards is that they are massive structures. This one in particular towered over the adjacent 4 story warehouse. A warehouse we had to climb up the side of to get to the stairs to the billboard.
In the dead of night, Jesse myself and a couple of other urban activists started climbing up the outside of this perhaps abandoned warehouse using the fire escape.
Fire escapes don’t usually make it all the way to the roof. This one didn’t. We climbed to the top of it and then had to pull ourselves onto the roof. Jesse went before me, into the pitch dark night. I pulled myself up and then the two of pulled ropes that were on the big banner to get it up onto the roof. We stepped backwards pulling the banner ropes.
Then i heard something crunch beside me and the sound of breaking glass. I spun around and saw that i had started to step thru a skylight which was flush with the roof. I could see dimly that the beneath the skylight there was at least a two story drop.
i cursed as i started to fall toward the skylight and what certainly would have been my doom.
Jesse grabbed me and pulled me back to safety. My heart was racing.
“Are you okay?” She asked after a minute
“Sure.” i lied to her. “Let’s get this banner up.”
We got our comrades and the huge banner up to the roof. The climbing onto the billboard itself was relatively easy and eventless. We got the banner installed below the billboard and felt pretty good about ourselves.
We climbed down and as the sun was starting to come up we called the local newspapers, so they would get a picture.
By 8 AM our banner had been removed. Patriotism was expedient that day.