A 3-Second Blockading Proposal

Nearly everyone I know has read Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman at some point but despite its being on the internet, younger readers may have missed it.

To set the background for the 3-second blockading proposal, consider what Abbie has to say about anti-tire weapons:

Don’t believe all those bullshit tire ads that make tires seem like the Superman of the streets. Roofing nails spread out on the street are effective in stopping a patrol car. A nail sticking out from a strong piece of wood wedged under a rear tire will work as effectively as a bazooka. An ice pick will do the trick repeatedly but you’ve got to have a strong arm to strike home…. (page 122 of the pdf Steal This Book I can’t say how that corresponds to other copies.)

Everything Abbie says is true, but I see problems with each of his suggestions:

  1. Roofing nails: Roofing nails work, are easy to purchase and not expensive. At the same time, they are an indiscriminate weapon, not unlike carpet bombing when the objective is intersecting a single road.
  2. Nail in wood: The comparison of a “strong piece of wood” and “bazooka” makes me think of nails in the end of a 2 x 4 board. Works but even TSA agents trained to spot bottled water can spot someone sporting a 2 x 4 on one shoulder. (Not what Abbie meant but a humorous image.)
  3. Ice Pick: Like the man says, requires “a strong arm to strike home.” If reduced to using an ice pick, you do know to go for the thinner sideways. Yes?

Other tire weapon methods include: flattening tires with bayonets, shooting out tires, snd the current fad with spike strips:


Pictured is the Stinger Spike System, which is advertised online for $889.20 (not including shipping and tax).

Blockading with tire weapons sounds indiscriminate (roofing nails), obvious (2 x 4 with nails), difficult (ice pick), unlikely (bayonets/guns), and/or expensive (police spikes).

But that’s not necessarily so.

What if you had the opportunity to use this truck as part of a highway blockade:


Impressive. Yes?

Look at all those tires! That just seems way too difficult. But, perhaps not.

How many of those tires would have to be disabled to make that semi-train part of a road blockade?

Here’s an image to help with that question:


Out of all those tires, only one of the font two steering tires must be disabled. Disable either one and the truck becomes a fixture unless and until someone can clear enough traffic from around it and repair the tire.

BTW, the same lesson applies to school buses, tour buses, garbage trucks, dump trucks, Metro buses (includes links to schedules in case you want to wait for one), in short, anything that is big and difficult to move until repaired.

A 3-Second Blockading Proposal

Large, difficult to repair vehicles make great elements of a roadway blockade. If they lose either one of their front tires, there they sit until repaired.

So how do either one of the front tires get flattened?

What fact about tires did Abbie Hoffman overlook in Steal This Book?

You’re ahead of me. Yes, valve stems.

Valve stems are nearly obscured on tractor trailer rigs by the wheel housing:


Valve stems vary depending on the type of vehicle and by design are not easy to cut.

The ideal (and unproven) scenario would be:

  1. Spot blockade target’s valve stem
  2. Cut valve stem
  3. Be on your way

all in 3 seconds or less.

But see the next section:

Lack of Practical Experience – Variety Intervenes

My first impulse was to recommend using robust cutters:


for severing valve stems but your success with those will depend upon your arm strength and the tires you encounter.

Quite frankly, the variety of wheels and tires is too large to make a judgment about tools until reconnaissance on the tires you are likely to encounter.

Add to that my lack of tractor trailer tires immediately available for trials, and further research is indicated.

Any research/experience you can point to and/or contribute concerning cutting valve stems, specifying tire model(s) and the tool(s) used, would be greatly appreciated.

Steal This Book is still a great read but is sorely in need of an update. It does have my favorite paragraph from all counter-culture literature:

If you are around a military base, you will find it relatively easy to get your hands on an M-79 grenade launcher, which is like a giant shotgun and is probably the best self-defense weapon of all time.

It’s not clear what experience Abbie had with the M-79, but you have to admit it is one hell of an image:


I understand that ammunition for the M-79 is hard to find. You?

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