The climate activist group Tyre Extinguishers, which originated in the United Kingdom, claims to have reached American shores.
For the first time in the group's history, TE says that it has successfully deflated the tires of dozens of SUVs in wealthy New York City neighborhoods. On Tuesday, the group tweeted, "BIG NEWS: TYRE EXTINGUISHERS STRIKE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NEW YORK CITY! 40 SUVs disarmed in the Upper East Side, the first of many."
Because of the supposed environmental damage caused by vehicles like SUVs, which require larger quantities of fuel, the group encourages people to deflate SUV tires (spelled with a Y in the U.K.) on cars parked in affluent areas to call attention to the issue. In order to avoid damaging the tires permanently, the group suggests that those sympathetic to their cause should unscrew tire valves on SUVs and insert a small object like a lentil bean inside to exert pressure. Once the valve has been loosely re-tightened, air can escape and the tire will deflate slowly.
Many TE participants also often leave on the windshield of a targeted vehicle a memo that attempts to explain to victims the purpose of their acts of petty vandalism.
"You'll be angry," the note admits, "but don't take it personally. It's not you. It's your car."
As the letter goes on, however, the tone becomes much less apologetic: "That's why we have taken this action. You will have no difficulty getting around without your gas guzzler, with walking, cycling or public transit."
Tyre Extinguishers claim to be decentralized with no formal leadership or governing principles other than that they "want to see bans on SUVs in urban areas, pollution levies to tax SUVs out of existence, and massive investment in free, comprehensive public transport. But until politicians make this a reality, Tyre Extinguishers action will continue."
Deflating tires is their method of choice to achieve that end.
They also warn that their influence is growing and that New Yorkers should expect to see more such tire attacks in the near future: "This is the first action in New York City, the first of many."
Though Yahoo! UK reported on incidents that TE committed in Edinburgh back in April, no American news outlets or New York police departments have yet confirmed the crimes that TE supposedly committed in New York recently. According to Gersh Kuntzman and Noah Martz of StreetsBLOG NYC, "[T]he neighborhood’s 19th and 17th precincts both told a Streetsblog reporter that they had gotten no reports from SUV owners of anything of the sort."
Other blogs and Reddit pages have discussed the incidents, but there have otherwise been no formal reports.