Sticking it to the man has recently taken on a whole new meaning, as political and environmental activists turn increasingly to the power of superglue (or indeed any non-branded any fast-acting adhesive capable of sticking human flesh to large, immovable objects) to help them make their points.
Last month there was anti-aviation activist Dan Glass from Plane Stupid, who tried to gum himself to British PM Gordon Brown and then the Downing Street gates, and the rather more successful bonding of six members of the Heathrow Camp for Climate Action to UK Department of Transport offices in central London to protest against the airport’s expansion. A couple of weeks ago, members of the groups Rising Tide and Climate Camp fastened themselves to banking giant RBS’s oil and gas division building to highlight their investments
in polluting technologies, and a few days ago a group of superglue-wielding activists targeted mining company BHP Billiton.
Why so? Has the soaring price of commodities on the rendered iron chains and padlocks too pricey? Is throwing yourself beneath a galloping horse simply impractical? No. “It’s easy to buy and carry,” explains a member of Rising Tide, a 51-year-old teacher who took part in their protest. “And you can’t walk around with chains if you’re a known activist because they can be construed as an offensive weapon. It’s harder to construe that with glue.”
Most importantly, of course, glued-on protestors prolong the activity and make it more headline- and photo-worthy. “It’s difficult for people to move you on. The police are unlikely to try and rip your hand away
and cause injury,” says the Rising Tide activist. The boys in blue are, however, apparently becoming wise to the new tactic and have taken to carrying solvents as well as the traditional bolt-cutters to protests to enable them to detach activists without injury.
Superglue deployment is, the activist agrees, a relatively recent phenomenon. “I’d never heard of it until a year ago,” she says. “But we feel we have to use it because otherwise a protest can feel a little bit limp.
We want to up the ante a bit because the message about climate change is a very, very urgent.