Tyre Terror


Last weekend a gang that calls itself Les Flagadas, deflated the tyres of some forty SUVs in Brussels. The Flagadas target four-wheel-drive vehicles because they want to make a political statement: “SUVs consume a lot of gas and pollute the environment,” says a Flagadas spokesperson who describes herself as an “eco-activist.” The Brussels Flagadas draw their inspiration from a French gang, Les Dégonflés, who have deflated the tyres of dozens of four-wheel-drives in the streets of Paris since early September.

The “eco-guerrillas” maintain they are doing nothing wrong because they deflate tires without damaging the tyres, let alone the cars:

“It would be difficult to take us to court,” [the leader of the French groups says]. “We don’t slash tires, we deflate them. Air doesn’t cost anything. […] Our rules are to never run from the police. And always run from the owners.” […] The deflators are on the fringe of a movement that has considerable support in the [Paris] City Hall, which is governed by an alliance of the Socialist and Green parties.

This also seems to be the position of the Brussels authorities. The Brussels police flatly refused to register the complaints of 4x4 owners “because the cars have not been damaged.” Nevertheless, deflating people’s tyres restricts their freedom. Moreover, the owner has to bear the cost and inconvenience of having the car towed away or having an air compressor brought over to inflate all the tyres again. It does not matter that the owner is rich. Rich people have rights, too.

The attitude of the police in Brussels and Paris is a dangerous one. In a democracy no-one is allowed to restrict another’s movements except the democratically elected authorities. Never freewheeling political “activists.” Sadly, there is a growing tendency in Europe to condone all types of violent political activism so long as no-one gets killed or wounded.

In two instances in Belgium in 2003 company managers were taken hostage by trade union activists and kept locked up for several days while local authorities refused to intervene. Afterwards the Belgian authorities decided not to press charges against the hostage takers.

In France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other West European countries hamburger restaurants, mink farms and gas stations have been arsoned by eco-terrorists. Though in these cases there were prosecutions, some tend to sympathise with the arsonists “so long as no-one gets hurt.” In free societies, however, people also respect the property rights of others.

Are the European authorities still aware of this? Or does it all boil down to anti-Americanism again?

Christophe Delabre, the president of a French association of SUV owners, […] said: “You cannot stigmatize a category of the population with impunity under the pretext that they drive a particular type of vehicle. […] I do not understand how the police can arrest deflaters and let them go a few hours later.”

Although city leaders do not condone vandalism, officials have gone so far as to propose that Paris ban sports utility vehicles. Deputy Mayor Denis Baupin, who oversees transportation programs, has called the SUV “a caricature of a car.” […] “A SUV is totally useless for Paris,” Baupin said in his speech and blamed the recent devastating hurricanes in the U.S. on climate change caused by pollution…. We all feel sorry for the dead in New Orleans. But now maybe the United States should start considering that their development pattern is not to be repeated worldwide and that it causes environmental problems.

Is it real journalism ?

Verify your sources : only 10 SUV deflated (more soon) and you report words I never said (but many so-called journalists do this).

If you want to know the purpose of our actions, read this article (in english) or come to see our blog (in french).

Real purposes, real crap

you report words I never said (but many so-called journalists do this).

If you want to know the purpose of our actions, read this article

Well, Annick, it would have been helpful to know what you did say, or specifically which ones you didn't, and why that misrepresents your views.

It appears from the link that the "purpose" of the actions is something to do with the vulnerability of older people in road accidents involving SUVs. I am finding it a bit of a struggle to understand how increasing the stress of one group of road users who have done nothing unlawful is going to achieve this.

Bob Doney

From an engineering

From an engineering viewpoint, a car wheel is a more complex device than the average layman would think. It is a very carefully engineered piece of equipment that must fulfill multiple functions; it is part of the suspension system that provides a smooth ride, it is part of the drivetrain that converts engine power to velocity, it is part of the braking system that stops the vehicle. In all these functions, the air in the wheel at its design pressure is a vital component given full consideration during engineering.

The true cost of damage is often unrelated to the replacement cost of the part. No one who has ever scrutinised the labour content of the typical garage bill could disagree.

Deflating a tyre renders the wheel incapable of performing its intended function. The wheel and the systems it forms part of are therefore damaged. The cost of remedial works including both parts and labour is the best measure of the scale of damage. It is deception to pretend that because the air has no monetary value that there is therefore no damage. Some lawyer ought to cop himself on to this and nail the vandals.

Furthermore, since this action causes actual damage that requires real cash money to remedy, it is not a non-violent act. Since it causes property damage, it is therefore an crime of violence, and should be dealt with as such without exception.

The perpetrators have crossed the bright line between non-violent and violent protest.

Yada, Yada, Yada

Here we go again...yada, yada, yada on America causing the hurricanes because America causes global warming. Stupid deputy mayor Denis Baupin making comments he knows nothing about.

Hurricanes have been around forever dumbnut!!! Check out the 1900 Galveston, Texas hurricane that killed between 6,000-8,000 people. I suppose that is also Bush's fault. My great-aunt and her 7 children vanished in that storm.

If he thinks SUV's are bad, then he should come to Texas and check out our big ole trucks. He dare not open his mouth and preach to farmers and ranchers that they have no business driving such a large vehicle. Large vehicles like these are used to haul cattle, farm and ranching equipment and everything else related to living on ranches and farms in the country. You can drive for hundreds of miles in parts of the south and western part of the States and not meet another car.

I wish one of these little piglet hoodlums would come to the States (hopefully Texas) and try letting the air out of people's cars. If they get caught by the cops, then they will most probably get hauled off to jail (vandalism). If they get caught by the owner, then probably worse.

I can't wait to return to Texas and buy the biggest SUV I can find. Then great joy to be riding along singing my mantra 'fock fwance'.

The difference

You can drive for hundreds of miles in parts of the south and western part of the States and not meet another car.

Ah, that's the difference, Molly! It all looks very different if your chic little French hatchback is sandwiched between two monsters in the supermarket car park, and, as you wriggle out completely unsighted, a large slice is taken out of your paintwork by a passing trolley. Especially if you've just forked out for a soapy wash to said paintwork.

Bob Doney


As a fellow reader above I too share a small measure of sympathy for the deflators (together with a measure of dislike for soccer moms witha single kid driving SUVs only a bit smaller than a Bradley fighting vehicles).

I also agree, however, that the deflators have no right to express their disagreement with the SUV crowd by annoying and/or inconveniencing them.

But there's no law against being annoyd or inconvenienced so I say the SUV owner who catches these hooligans in the act deals out a good and savage beating. One can't do a lot of deflating, which requires some manual dexterity, with 4 broken fingers.

And if I were a cop I'd look the other way...

Look on the bright side


It doesn't have to be so bad. While some freedom may have been lost (property rights...) Belgians have now gained the freedom to deflate tyres of any other vehicle including: buses, police cars, ambulances, fire engines, etc.

Air doesn't cost anything, right?
No one will get hurt, right?


Bus tires

I think these people should see their own vehicles deflagadated.
I guess they drive public buses, don't they?

Quite right

I'm ashamed to admit that just for a moment I had a flickering sympathy for the deflators. But, no, you're quite right. Deplorable, utterly deplorable.

Bob Doney