People are fed up with heavy-handed government coercion.
For years, British citizens have been the subject of increasing surveillance under the pretense of keeping them safe. And while some pushed back against Big Brother, many seemed content with the dynamic. But then along came Sadiq Khan, current mayor of London, with an aggressive plan to ostensibly cut pollution in the city using “ultra-low emissions zone” (ULEZ) cameras that read the license plates of older cars, levying a heavy daily fee for driving on public roads and people are starting to fight back in meaningful ways.
Blade Runners, the vigilantes who have been sabotaging the ULEZ cameras as they’ve expanded into all London boroughs, have been hailed by many citizens for standing up for the little guy. After all, it’s some of the poorest citizens who can’t afford to buy an expensive, new car who are being forced into paying extra just for the privilege of driving a vehicle they need to perform their work.
Armed with tree trimmers, bolt cutters, grinders, spray paint, and other implements, Blade Runners have been busily wreaking havoc with the ULEZ camera monitoring system, hitting the city’s government where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook.
As reported by Daily Mail, almost 90% of all ULEZ cameras in southeast London have been vandalized. The publication estimates some 500 cameras weren’t operational at the time of the report. A Blade Runner who spoke with the newspaper said, “We are going to take down every single one no matter what.”
Sky News says there have been “hundreds” of attacks on ULEZ cameras. While some have sought to cut the cords, others opt to cover the lenses so they can’t read license plates or otherwise damage the monitoring devices.
Some Twitter (or X) users have noted that ULEZ cameras recently have been sporting new “armor” to protect the wires from being cut. However, the measure is just a simple shroud that only surrounds the wires on three sides, allowing access for determined Blade Runners.
There’s a design flaw with the "ARMOUR" on the new cameras. They can still have their wires cut, although more fiddly. See where highlighted, the wire is still easily accessible…..#BladeRunners #SayNoToULEZ pic.twitter.com/0c8exBby8s
— Betty 🕊️ (@CaliforniaFrizz) August 30, 2023
Others have decided that cutting wires allows for easy fixes, so they’re taking the cameras. Some have even decided to cut the poles down, with many taking photos of the aftermath and posting them to social media in celebration.
But Mayor Khan isn’t taking this Blade Runner movement sitting down. He’s striking back with ULEZ cameras mounted to vans. People have been sharing images of the mobile fleet to social media. It’s likely authorities believe the vehicles will be harder to disable since they don’t sit in one place.
It’s possible Khan and his team have even more tricks up their sleeves. Some have theorized drones might be deployed, a feature in Chinese cities as citizens’ movements are tracked and restricted. Of course, Kahn and others say the ULEZ isn’t anti-car or a restriction of people moving about the city but instead is simply about cutting pollution. Blade Runners and their supporters seem to staunchly disagree, so one can expect they’ll continue their tireless campaign against what they view as government tyranny.
Images via Twitter