Protesters vandalize two more Ballard billboards

Last week this vandalized billboard was turning heads near the Ballard Bridge. Now two more billboards have been defaced with political messages. All three seem to be the work of the same person (or group of people.)

Robby sent us these photos. This Starbucks sign is on Leary near 11th.

And this McDonald’s sign was on the opposite side of the Starbucks billboard. It has already been replaced.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

156 thoughts to “Protesters vandalize two more Ballard billboards”

  1. I think there is a big difference between some gangsta wanna-be scribbling his name on art like a kindergarden, vs. politcal and true statements. Mcdonalds is $hit, $tarbucks is the cancer of coffee…

  2. Graffiti is graffiti… No matter what has been defaced. This person or people need to grow up and think of more constructive ways to express their thoughts rather then vandalizing other's property.

  3. Wonder how long it takes to bring these down. Anyone know how long they've been up? Also – how does somebody go up there and make these changes without being caught?

  4. Maybe “some little wanna-be gangster” scribbling his or her name on art IS a political and true statement. Maybe even moreso than calling starbucks the “cancer of coffee.” Come on… I can see if you don't like starbucks (which I don't)… And I could even see if you stretched an argument far enough to say that because of starbucks' sheer proliferation was ruining the chances of smaller coffee shops
    to be profitable (which said would also be a stretch but I would grant it to you anyway – just on strength of concept alone). But … in NO way is starbucks ruining coffee at large.

    Hooray for vandalism (and f*** yo' couch)

  5. The irony is if we did not have capitalism we would not have as much of a choice and likely would be subjected to crap far worse than McDonald's. If you don't like it don't eat there. And what 'specifically' is so bad about Starbucks?

    The argument against capitalism is an argument against freedom and opportunity and the principles this country was founded upon. If you don't like freedom you are 'free' to leave unlike some other non capitalist countries.

    I hope they catch the vandals and deport them to North Korea.

  6. Funny once… now it's just vandalism. This is no different than the vandalism of the Bergen Place mural, you just may like one more than the other.

  7. Yep, these are still funny. And that's the difference between these and tagging. Not any less illegal, just funny. And meaningful — I guess it doesn't hurt that I agree with the message.

  8. The argument against capitalism is an argument against the worldwide exploitation of people. Capitalism does not equal freedom, you sophister. Go argue with other people who practice doublethink – more entertaining for you.

    To all, since we're talking about freedom now, maybe the best thing about public art in a free society is one's ability to go vandalize it if you don't like it. Unless these companies are paying me for my eye-space I applaud anyone who takes certain liberties. I mean … It can also be destructive but…

  9. No sir you are wrong. The argument against capitalism is an argument against the corporate hegemony that has drained our neighborhoods of their souls and have left so many Americans out on the streets, spending their last dimes on triple-non-fat lattes as the drive their SUVs past the McMansion they lost to foreclosure because the couldn't pay their subprime mortgage! Revolution has to start somewhere and it might as well be a billboard owned by the fatcats~!

  10. So let's see… in the Bergen Place thread we have people violently opposing even legal graffiti as an art form, and here it's applauded on the grounds that “it's funny”. So, if somebody defaced the Bergen Place mural with something really funny nobody would mind, is that right?

  11. Sorry Neighbor, you can't blame “capitalism” for the fact that lots of people are stupid. We live in a free society and people choose to spend their money however they want, even if it's not responsible or the way you would choose.

    Now if you want to start a petition to eliminate billboards all together, sign me up.

  12. The difference is that the mural at Bergen place isn't an advertisement for multinational earth raping corporations that could care less about the well being of people. If we are forced to be subjected to the constant bombardment of mental waste that is advertisements that do nothing more than support a morally corrupt and failing capitalist system then I see no harm this very minor (in comparison to what really needs to be done with these advertisements) offense. On average, and obviously depending on where, Americans are exposed to anywhere between 300 and 2000 advertisements a day. Whoever is taking the risk to make this statement certainly differentiates between doing so and pre-teen misplaced rebellion and disregard for things that are culturally meaningful.

  13. As an aside, lookup the coffee sales trends in the 5 years before Starbucks started to grow. Alternatively 60minutes did a bit on it as well which you can watch streaming on their website.

    Coffee shops work in agglomeration economies just like car dealerships. How many coffee shops are on Broadway? How many are Starbucks?

  14. wow, so capitalism has drained America's soul? Really?
    I haven't seen anything but the left handing nuggets to the capitalists, just so they have something to whip in perpetuity. (evil rich, etc.)
    Destruction is NEVER the answer, NEVER acceptable.
    How about some accountability all the way around?
    From wall street to main street to Olympia, all they way to Pennsylvania Ave., accountability is what we lack.
    We don't get it unless we demand it.

  15. RH, this “people” group that you refer to actually contains multiple individuals with differing opinions.

    I think that whoever did this should be punished if caught. I also think it's wonderful and hilarious.

  16. Lots of people's hypocrisy showing in this thread.

    So if the vandals of the Bergen Place mural had defaced it with some anti-corporate sloganeering, you would be cheering it?

  17. What about the “Everything that cracked Dad's arteries?” That was awesome because they took the extra steps to change “Grade A eggs” to “Grade A shit” and “I'm lovin' it” to “I'm dyin'.” That was the first one I saw. I have a picture, if you guys want it.

  18. So Ernie, If we live in a “free society and people choose to spend their money however they want, even if it's not responsible or the way you would choose.” Why am I bailing them out with my tax money? If its REALLY a free society I should be able to choose if I want to help them out, right?

  19. I think the real issue here is why do we still have billboards all along 15th anyway?

    ClearChannel is the real evil corporate entity that everyone should be wailing about.

  20. “Broken Windows” by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling Read it… Sure you start with a billboard, but that billboard turns into a mural like Bergen. What's next? Give me a break!

  21. I think that I shall never see
    a billboard lovely as a tree.
    Indeed, unless those billboards fall,
    I'll never see a tree at all.

    –Odgen Nash

  22. Sorry, xtevex, I shouldn't have snarked at you. You were proposing a false equivalence between a piece of corporate property that can be (and has been) replaced within a day and a precious community mural that may never be restored completely.

    Obviously no one, even the folks who are adamant that all these crimes should be punished severely and equally, believes that those two things are the same.

  23. I like street art. I like political protest. I don't like McDonald's and I only like Starbucks when there's no workable alternative.

    But this? Meh. It feels like immature attention whoring from someone either trying too hard or not trying hard enough.

  24. It's simple. One is a cherished neighborhood mural, the others are a Starbucks and McDonalds billboard. That's not speaking jackass, it's simple logic.

  25. Starbucks and McDonlads are open for business. If people didn’t shop there, they wouldn’t exist would they? America hates success! Who is forcing anyone to shop there? McHypocrites!

  26. It's simply vandalism.

    If the person that did this paid for their own poster to be put up and it said whatever they liked (even about McDonalds and Starbucks) then that is fine (can even be called freedom of speach). But to do this on a poster that someone else has paid for (even if it is a huge corporation that people are against) it is wrong wrong wrong.

    What would happen if everyone started defacing the signs of shops they didn't like? Imagine the horror if someone defaced and renamed the Chai House or changed the name on the sign of Lombardi's to 'Gaybirdi's' or something?

  27. Oh but chop it has most certainly drained the soul of the US. That’s why your generation is so pathetically generic. Neo Seattlites dress alike talk alike and even eat and drink alike. There is no creativity at all.

    As for destruction? Well those tea party guys in Boston made a fairly loud statement with destruction and it benefited this nation. Geee and don’t the wingers all revel in The idiot Regan calling to, “tear down that wall.”

    Oh and those Boston men were disguised as Indians to hide their identity so your accountability argument goes right out the window.

  28. Exactly. People don't understand that capitalism doesn't incite greed, and having a socialist or communist system wouldn't eliminate greed, either.

    Can't blame capitalism for the fact that people are greedy jerks.

  29. And as for the left handing capitalism nuggets? The left is not at fault that idiot Americans sold their power to corporate America thus corporate America has them all by the short and curlies. The best the left can hope for at this point is some containment and putting a cushion in pace to break the fall.

  30. These billboards don't sound like intelligent, politically-minded young souls to me, just dumb kids born and bred in a Marxist household, probably on some kind of drugs.

    McD's and Starbucks paid for these properties, and if those kids don't like it, they can either not shop there or buy the billboard themselves. The latter is looking like a good option if they want to market their far-left crap.

  31. Drug dealing gang grafitti is bad and people demand a special police unit be called out to stop it.

    Marxist/anti-capitalist gang grafitti is good and people applaud it.

    Both are equally ugly, equally offensive, and equally contribute to increased urban pollutuion.

  32. Anti-McDonald's != Marxist.
    Anti-McDonald's != anti-capitalist.

    McDonald's is, in fact, the indirect recipient of billions of dollars of taxpayer money annually, in the form of farm bill subsidies to cheap corn production (corn goes into the cows, the pigs, and pretty much everything else McDonald's serves).

    McDonald's' success represents a gross violation of free-market principles.

  33. People, get over yourselves. It's a crime, regardless if you like the companies involved or not. An entertaining crime, but crime nonetheless. Why does every comment board have to turn into some moron complaining about the corporate rape of the earth? Honestly, you need to sit down and watch some HBO.

  34. “No” Workethic says “multinational earth raping corporations that could care less about the well being of people.”

    This uninformed opinion should be removed as it has no connection with reality. I know real women who have actually been raped. A billboard does not rape anyone you clueless lowlife…..

  35. Its because you were “free” to vote for the guys who thought that regulating the banks and investors would hurt the “Free” Market.

  36. Really? Really? Really? I still feel like I have a soul. I have bought food at McDonalds before, and starbucks! Things are screwed up granted but don't bite that hand that feeds you Mr middle class American.

  37. what ism doesn't exploit some people? I will take imperfect capitalism over the rest of them. Socialism doesn't help people much either….

  38. Anyone that says capitalism has drained America's needs to read up on their history and understand why our standard of living is so high.

    The reason the left hands nuggets to the capitalists is because most of the intelligent left knows it is a system we need, with limitations.

    Accountability is right. The problem is the lunatic fringe on the left and right are too often the ones screaming the loudest so they are the ones everyone hears.

  39. Gurple,

    maybe you should find another direction for your pent up bitter rage. Gee, McDonalds? Such an easy target; they serve cheap unhealthful food in many locations. Ooohhh. Are they run by Dr. Evil too??

    If they all went away tomorrow, do you think McVegtables would immediately fill the void?? Or would most people riot to have their Big Macs return?? Do you have equal rage against those individuals who choose unhealthful lifestyles by relying on their caloric intake from corporate burger giants??

    Starbucks is another company. It shows ignorance to equivocate the two simply because they both are so prevalent. Would you think it's funny for the people who rely on the health care benefits Starbucks generously provides if they lost these??

    If you or anyone needs to find “meaning” from a billboard, any and all opinions rendered are farcical….

  40. That is the most narrow-minded, yuppy crap I have read all week. You think just because one speaks to your experience and the other doesn't, that the former is more meaningful expression? You think Ballard was made for you? You see kindergarden (sic) in a scribble… others see Wonderbread arguing over their $3 coffee in a Starbucks defacement. Whether I agree with you that * is $hit or not, you sound ridiculous with that us vs. them argument. Graffiti always has a reason, whether you can appreciate it or not.

  41. “Unless these companies are paying me for my eye-space I applaud anyone who takes certain liberties. “
    yeah, it's all about you, your eye space, blah blah blah.
    btw, I won't pay you to see me walking in the hood…

  42. specifically, starbucks over-roasts their beans thus rendering their “coffee” bitter and undrinkable. they have then labeled this swill as “gourmet,” inspiring the sheep to replicate it and call it good. furthermore, they have a tendency to try to eliminate smaller, independent, and often good, coffee shops through intimidation and frivolous lawsuits, eg:

  43. I'm sure they do it at 4am or sometime when traffic really down. And it's unlikely that someone out driving at 4am is going to see the person up there or is going to call the police on the person up there. Plus, those billboards are in a non-residential/non-retail area so there is even less traffic early early in the morning and no security guards out for neighboring businesses. It'd be a lot harder to do in Belltown or even on Ballard Ave where a lot of businesses stay open quite late and there are apartments and condos everywhere.

  44. there's a lot of people on this blog that need to get LAID. Find a real problem (there's lots to choose from) and complain about that.

  45. I would have to disagree with you about starbucks not caring about people. They are one of the few coffee shops that offer full benefits to their employees. They also have nutritious food options for customers.

  46. The real vandalism is that companies with money can deface the public and psychic space with a giant advertisement. Can you imagine what it would be like to drive across the Ballard Bridge without billboards?

  47. So, what would be the 'PC' way to sell your products? Should businesses be out on the street corners panhandling? Should they just get their elected clowns to tax us for their revenue? I don't like much advertising, but I don't see an alternative either.

  48. I repeat, capitalism is not the same thing as democracy. In fact, they many times find themselves directly at odds.

    Luckily, in a free society we have no NEED to judge people based on their crimes because we have a judicial system for all of that.

    In a free society, you are free to commit a crime as long as you are willing to deal with the possible consequences. It's kinda what separates us from being totalitarian (as in, we don't have thought police).

    Therefore, stop with the 'capitalism=good, vandalism=bad' arguments, maybe, and let's talk about the issue.

    Structural, for instance, why are your comments all aimed at the 'loony left' when the 'righteous right' would preach the same tactics were the subject matter different? The tactics of protesters differ much less than the subjects that rile them. Clear common sense will tell ya that.

    If the left is so loony then what about those people who picket soldiers funerals with “God hates fags” signs? (I'm sure they have a 'good' reason, albeit retarded). I dunno, I'm just saying that people are people ,no matter what end of the belief spectrum they fall under. No one side is less or more capable of being loony, unless all of humanity is just essentially crazy.

    My real response to this is to think that, as an act of protest, this is an interesting one. After all, hasn't Mickey D's been forced to offer healthier choices because of these types of “left-hand” protests? Isn't Starbucks far more accountable for its global practices because of such visibility and critcism?

    Furthermore, would we even be a country now without acts of protest that essentially amount(ed) to property destruction? Sometimes the individual finds it necessary to fight against a paradigm, ending up such that, whether left or right, it may come to define what you view as freedom -i.e. dumping some corporations' tea into the harbor.

    I would say you have the right as a human being to deface a billboard. It might get you locked up, though…

  49. Did you know that there is no real evidence that this sort of advertising even works?

    Location, product and price have proven to be effective. PC has nothing to do with it.

  50. I subscribed to recieve these comments by email.

    Big mistake.

    That's being disabled RFN.

    Nothing but mindlessness out there.

    Old Ballard is gone forever. Time to move on.

  51. I hope people think critically about the foundational premises of society, and not simply accept without question the implied notion that legal = ethical, and its converse (illegal = unethical).

    The public of Washington was never consulted as to whether it wanted gigantic advertisements *cluttering* – an objective and defensible terminology – its aerial landscape; in Vermont and Maine, however, the public resoundingly answered “No!” when it was asked, and the states thus prohibited billboards.

    It seems fair to me that someone take the initiative to respond; granted, it could have been done in a much better way, but at least it WAS done. (Perhaps the vandal doesn't have the time or funds or ability to d any better.)

    What would it say about a place if this kind of visual pollution (my judgement, sure) goes up constantly and nothing is done about it? Complacency or cowardice is nothing to be admired or take pride in.

    Obviously the vandal(s) knew he/she/they was/were risking arrest, incarceration, and fines – but they took the risk to counter/disrupt the commercialism in public space. I applaud that.

  52. But I bet they work better than annoying internet pop-up ads.
    Agree that nothing works better than location, product, and price. My political leanings won't keep me out of a Starbucks if it's the closest place to get coffee.

  53. I just got back from a trip to Oakland. It's strange to see everyone getting so fret up over grafittied billboards. I saw graffiti on gas pumps in Oakland. It was everywhere. I came home with a little more perspective.

  54. Uh, the public of Washington was never “consulted”??? That's friggin hilarious!!! Business should “consult” with the public about advertising??? Great…..gimme more of this stuff!!!

    I'm a vegan, strong liberal and live the concepts of sustainable food consumption. That said, it bothers me not one bit for McDonalds to advertise. You know why??? Because I don't have to eat there!!! What a country!!!!

  55. Capitalist Pig, are you intentionally being obtuse, or are you just daft?

    Advertising can be done in many ways, understand? It can be done in private spaces such as newspapers or magazines. And/or, advertisements can be done through semi-private/supposedly (technically) public media like television and radio. But billboards – while a privately-owned property – are entirely in public space. They are being shoved into my, your, our line of sights. These private properties are taking over the skyline; call it crazy or consider me nuts, but I think we should have some say over whether or no this happens in our communities. (Incidentally, I mentioned two states that did just that – did you read that before you laughed off the suggestion that we in Washington ought to have just as much power over our lives?)

    Why is it just “freedom” for corporations to foist their garbage to the public via ubiquitous, invasive, insidious enticements, but it's not freedom for someone to respond? OF COURSE the individual is not going to respond on the same level as the corporation, for (what should be obvious) differences of funds, favor of law, and personnel (to name just a few). So the respondent uses limited and extra-legal means, earning the pejorative “vandal”.

    Would you have no problem if Company X marketed their toxic slop as a “The NEW Delicious Taste-tastic!” with all sort of allure and attraction to draw children, uneducated, and impoverished people? God, I hope such people as this billboard corrector continue, for I see the aforementioned example as the future of our hyper-capitalism. Anything to 'save the economy', I guess.

    Saying that the billboard *vandal* (a disparaging term, but definitively accurate) and the vandal of the Bergen mural are alike is as flawed and shortsighted as saying that David's defeat of Goliath was the same as the guy who mugged the old lady.

  56. Is it really this big of a deal? It was on Stumble, everyone chuckled and then stumbled somewhere else.

    Let's all move on with our lives.

  57. Seems to me these billboards are pretty successful at what they're attempting to do: provoke and shock their viewers. Reminds me of another piece of art that caused a similar stir while calling into question the very nature of what art is. That would be Marcel Duchamp's urinal.

    I believe the kind of vehement debate going on here is exactly what this artist wanted.

  58. I'm laughing at the 2nd one. Snapped a photo of the first time it happened and put it up on my Flickr. I will have to head out to snap a shot of the new McD's one later today.

  59. Are you a big fan of the status quo? Do you believe that McDonalds has our best interest in mind?

    If the existence of McDonalds and the like helps to make large segments of our society poor, obese and unhealthy, don't you think it might be a decent objective to start a conversation about this? Even if it is “vandalism.”

  60. …because small local shops shouldn't have to provide health benefits for their employees. Everyone should have healthcare. Small local businesses always have this problem because of the way the system is set up.

  61. Have you been to poor neighborhoods?

    There are no healthy options, just convenient stores and fast food restaurants.

    It is society's fault. Blaming on individuals is a way of saying you are better than other people and that our society is blameless.

  62. Are all crimes bad?

    It is illegal to own more than 5 dildos in Texas. It is still illegal to have oral sex in Alabama, Arizona, Florida and Idaho.

    It was illegal for black folks to vote until mid-last century.

    Perhaps the government is not always right. And perhaps that needs to be discussed. I believe the edited billboards sparked this discussion, which is a good thing.

  63. Well, we don't like it on our cars and garage doors. last year dozens of cars on my street were tagged with bright red spray paint. Not nice!

  64. JJ, these people proclaim a want and willingness for a fair, open discussion – forgetting that 'Freedom of The Press' belongs to those who own the presses! They'll tolerate dissent done by the approved means, and rebellion and change must be channeled through the legal, accepted routes. Because the powerful always establish a functional means for the people at totem-bottom to topple their rulers.

    Yes, this criminal vandal should have sought the funds and taken the time to try to get his/her own billboard! As if the billboard lessors – an advertising company – don't judge and hold power of approval over the messages they'll post; of course they wouldn't run an anti-consumption message, or an ad un-competitively bashing major renters.

    Would people still think this to be such a 'crime' if the message was for Nazi Party recruitment? Why might that be a target worthy of criminal correction, defacing, or destruction?

  65. Didn't say it was. That was merely for a little perspective.
    And that graffitied gas pump was in Old Oakland, hardly the ghetto.

  66. Big corporations can afford to post a message. They have tens of millions in advertising budgets.

    I run a small sustainable fast-food restaurant (called The Funhole in Fremont) with no capital for advertising.

    I will never ever be able to afford a billboard. Is this fair capitalism? Are the best ideas really rising to the top?

  67. I am at work and will try to listen to the show. I don't think we should encourage graffiti and vandalism. It stings when your property is damaged and you have to clean it up. Will the cheering crowd applaud when a tagger falls off the billboard at night?

  68. Read about the BLO (billboard liberation front). This form of culture jamming has been going on for a while. Good to see it here in ballard.

  69. I can't believe the leftist jingoism in here. (How's that for an “ism?”) Here's what I'm reading…

    “If I have an opinion that's different from yours, I can vandalize your belongings and justify it.”

    Can't wait till someone comes along and vandalizes YOUR stuff because they have a different opinion than yours!

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