How To Prepare, Make, and Deploy A Banner Drop.
A banner drop can enable you to get a simple message out in dramatic style. Drop-banners take significantly more time to prepare, but significantly less to deploy, than graffiti of comparable size, and are less illegal. They can be most effective in crowded environments during special events, or to accentuate and clarify an action taking place nearby.
You can make a really huge banner by sewing together smaller pieces of cloth; be sure they won’t come undone, though! Double- or triple-stitching with exceptionally tough thread is probably necessary. When deciding on the size, keep in mind the way it will be transported to the place of use, the dimensions of the area where it will be deployed, and the distance from which it will be seen.
To decorate your banner, you need not be an accomplished artist; simply draw a scale model of the image or statement you would like to paint, separate that image into equal sections, mark off matching sections proportionately on the banner, and use these as guides. You can trace the lines first with chalk. You will probably need an open space outside the surveillance of the authorities to work in, since when your banner appears you won’t want it-or yourself-to look familiar to any agents of law enforcement. The paint will almost certainly soak through the material and onto whatever is beneath it, so be prepared for this as well, in terms of security as well as tidiness. Be careful above all not to spell any words wrong (!) or bunch up your lines of text near the end, and make sure your colors are striking and high-contrast and your images are similarly easy to discern. Don’t use spray paint to paint your banner unless you are especially talented with it.
Fold the edges of both sides of the banner over equal lengths of rope or chain, and sew the fabric around it. Run the thread through the rope or chain and the banner, so the banner won’t just slip off when it is vertical, and make sure to leave plenty of rope or chain at the top. Chain is heavier and thus provides more stabilizing weight for the banner than rope does, but is also much harder to transport and use quickly (and more expensive, unless you’re hunting/gathering it); it is much more difficult for police to break, but they will probably pull the banner up before cutting it off, anyway, so unless you can somehow anchor the bottom of it as well as the top, using chain will probably not add to your banner’s time in the limelight. If your banner is exceptionally long, it’s probably wise to sew a length of rope or chain along a segment in the center of the top side, too, leaving some of it on each side, so the banner can be hung from four points rather than two.
At the bottom of the ropes or chains, attach your water bottles, full of water. Attach them very firmly so they won’t drop off, as that could cause problems. These are weights to hold the banner in place (the first banner we dropped, off the balcony of a restaurant at which we had bought a root beer as a pretext, simply tangled up in the wind and was useless). For further protection against the wind, make U-shaped cuts in the fabric-the wind should blow through these without troubling the rest of the banner. Roll your banner up bottom first, with the water bottles inside and the text facing the inside of the roll; practice being sure which way your banner unrolls before you are in the moment of truth, so you don’t lose time panicking or, worse, get it wrong. Be careful not to roll your banner too tightly, especially as the paint, even dry, can make it stiff and a little sticky: it may not unroll all the way when you drop it, forcing you to pull it up and unroll it yourself in perhaps less-than-optimal circumstances.
For deployment, a team of two is usually best. Pick a time and location where the visibility balances out the risk. You’ll have to get the banner there, somehow: if it’s a freeway or overpass, you could pull over and hop out, or just run up the ramp with it if you don’t want to risk a license plate number being taken; if it’s at the top of a busy corporate office building being patrolled by guards, you’re probably better off not carrying a huge, suspicious parcel up in the elevator-are there stairs in the back? If you find an abandoned building that you can get in and out of easily enough and that isn’t frequently checked upon, and you don’t have anywhere else to work, you could theoretically smuggle in the materials and go through some or all of the banner-making process inside before dropping the banner(s) off the roof and securing the hatch behind you with your own padlock for extra longevity. The hard part is always going to be getting out of the place after you’ve dropped: generally speaking, the more conspicuous the location is, the more people know immediately that you’re there, and the longer it will take you to get down and out and the less likely you are to have any kind of crowd cover as you do so. Dress as nondescriptly as possible (or as maintenance employees!), and practice moving quickly up and down stairwells without getting suspiciously out of breath. Check the area out ahead of time; if you’re going to be on security cameras at any point, bring a change of clothes, glasses, a hat, a reversible jacket, or other accessories to disguise your identity.
Transport your banner in such a way that you know exactly how to orient it when the moment comes. Unless you think you’ll have time to tie knots at a leisurely pace, consider using padlocks or carabineers: have a loop pre-tied at the end of the rope so you can simply loop it around the bar or pipe or whatever you’re securing it to and snap the lock or clip onto the loop and the rope on the other side. If there’s nowhere to attach a rope or chain, you can use heavy weights-plastic jugs filled with sand, for example to anchor the banner. Make sure the ropes or chains suspending your banner are stretched tight apart at the top, so it won’t bunch up-check in advance to make sure this is possible, and that your anchor can handle the weight you’re suspending from it. Then walk or run like hell and keep your cool.
-Recipes For Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook (Banner Drops)
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