Activism Fail

Readers of my blog know that I have a major problem with the way homeless individuals are treated in our society. Various stores and apartment complexes in the United Kingdom have been busy installing spikes designed specially to prevent homeless individuals from sleeping on their property. Libertarians will point out that private property owners have a right to do such things and as a libertarian I concur. But as a decent human being I will also point out that doing so violates the don’t be a dick principle. Therefore it didn’t surprise me when activists decided to vandalize the spikes. However the vandals failed miserably:

They were all carrying buckets, which I soon found out were full of concrete. Tipping the containers all over the spikes, the stuff inside landed with a messy thud on the ledge. The activists then tried to spread the concrete out with some wooden slats, but it looked a little thick and wasn’t really budging.

When they dashed down a side street, I caught up and asked one what exactly they were doing. They explained that they were trying to drown the spikes in concrete, rendering the ledge non-spikey. “These [spikes] are in places where people are trying to find a cosy, less wet place to put their head down,” one said. “These are places that the underclass rely on. We give [Tesco] our money and this is how they treat us.”


After our chat they prepared themselves for a second round. This time they poured concrete mix directly out of a bag, then mixed it with the water al fresco. This mostly resulted in a powdery mess and a load of concrete-y water running down the pavement.

The lesson from this story is if you’re going to do activism don’t fuck it up. Have a plan and understand the elements that plan relies on. For example, if you’re planning to cover anti-homeless spikes with concrete understand how to work with concrete. Doing so will help you understand that concrete hardens over time, which means mixing it before you’re onsite is risky unless you don’t have far to travel. Likewise dumping concrete mix on a ledge and pouring water over it will simply cause the mix to wash away. What you really need to do is bring concrete mix, water, and a container to combine the two in to the site you’re going to be working at.

Take some damn pride in your work. If you believe something is worth doing then learn how to do it well. Otherwise people are just going to laugh at you.