Destroying Parking Meters, Speed Cameras, and Other Tax Apparatus

Tax resistance is a staple of nonviolent resistance, but not all tax resistance is nonviolent. There are also plenty of examples in which people have taken up arms against the taxing authority, have violently destroyed the apparatus of tax collecting, or have used threats of violence to intimidate or inhibit tax collectors.

For instance, lately in Chicago people upset at extortionate parking rates have been destroying parking meters.

“Mike The Parking Ticket Geek” … contacted us via Twitter and showed us his website,, which he used to give people advice on how to beat parking tickets. The site has become a lightning rod for peoples’ complaints about the new rates and operators.

Mike says the people who are writing to him have a sense of “anger, frustration, rage in some cases.”

To the point where some, it appears, are vandalizing the meters. Pictures on Mike’s website show meters deliberately smashed, taken apart, spray-painted, or deliberately jammed.

“People suggest taking a quarter, putting some super glue on it, and putting it in the coin slot,” Mike said.

Other tactics mentioned on the site are over-feeding the meters with pennies so as to make them too full to accept any other coins, spray-painting over their windows so their status cannot be seen by parking enforcers, filling the meters with expanding foam, or removing them entirely.

Speed cameras and other automated ticket-giving devices are also frequent targets. Here’s some video of folks in Phoenix, Arizona who dressed up in Santa suits and temporarily disabled red-light cameras there:

(Red-light cameras are ostensibly used to automatically ticket drivers who hazardously fail to heed traffic lights, and are promoted as a public safety measure — but governments end up seeing them as revenue-producing devices more than as traffic safety devices, and have been caught manipulating the timing of yellow lights in a way that increases the number of tickets while also increasing the danger of the intersection!)

Peter Hendrickson, one of the latest in a long line of constitutionalist tax protester amateur lawyers, got his original tax protester prison term after conspiring to mail a firebomb to the IRS.

And then there are the “suspicious powder” episodes that temporarily shut down IRS facilities from time-to-time. Though these suspicious powders are always found to be harmless, they’re clearly intended to resemble the anthrax-powder mailings that killed several people — and so are no less violent in practice than a bank robbery using an unloaded gun.

Here’s another example, reported on :


Crowds in Oaxaca State, Mexico, in revolt over new taxes, stoned to death Diodoro Maldonado, the mayor of Tlacolula.

They attacked him near the gate of his home.

Eight others have been killed and at least 50 injured in riots.

Taxpayers of the city of Oaxaca, the State capital, are holding a general strike.

They are demanding the resignation of the State Governor, Manuel Heredia, because of his tax programme.

The Governor armed nearly 3,000 farmers with modern, carbines and marched them into Oaxaca’s main square to “protect State property” after the first outbreak of rioting.

The Governor blames Communists for the disorders.

Although the Governor has repealed his tax decree, which would have meant a sharply increased burden on the State’s poor as well as the rich, an Oaxaca “citizens’ committee” says that passive resistance will be continued until he resigns.

Yesterday General Augustin Mustieles said that army tanks and troops of Mexico’s only motorised brigade, rushed to Oaxaca after police had fired into a crowd of anti-tax demonstrators should have no trouble in preserving order.

“But if more trouble develops,” he said, “we will not hesitate to arm more peasants — 20,000 if necessary.”