"Sticker Gang" Seeks to Push F-35 Debate Leftward | Off Message

"Sticker Gang" Seeks to Push F-35 Debate Leftward


A sticker slapped on telephone poles and utility boxes around Burlington highlights dissent among the dissenters on the issue of basing the F-35 military fighter jet at the local airport.

A small band of graphic guerrillas who call themselves the Sticker Gang are seeking "to up the political ante by depicting the depth of the opposition to both the weapons system and the pols fronting for the 1 percent's continuing agenda of empire," gangster Albert Petrarca writes in an email.

Designed by a local artist who won't reveal his or her name, the sticker shows the war plane in a completely vertical ascent. It's got a skull-and-crossbones emblazoned on one wing; the nuclear radiation symbol on the other. The exhaust from the F-35's engine takes the form of the names of Vermont politicians who support the basing plan: Shumlin, Sanders, Weinberger, Leahy, Welch. 

"F the 35," the sticker proclaims on top.

The Sticker Gang was dissatisfied, Petrarca says, with the visual quality of propaganda produced by the anti-F-35 coalition. "It's too wordy. We wanted a more eye-catching design," he explains.

The insurgents also wanted to reset the debate over putting the plane in Vermont's most densely populated area. The Stop the F-35 coalition has placed too much emphasis on the impact of the jet's noise on local property values, Petrarca says. "While we certainly agree with those concerns, we wanted to push the politics a little harder."

Petrarca adds that he and three friends who spent "less than $100" to produce the sticker are "against the plane as a weapons system, not just as an inconvenience to the people of Winooski and the broader Burlington area."

Critics "shouldn't be opposed to deployment just at the airport in South Burlington but anywhere in the country," he declares.

The Sticker Gang also aims to stick it to Sanders, who, Petrarca charges, "talks out of both sides of his mouth." Vermont's socialist senator has said he would prefer the budget-busting F-35 not be built at all, but adds that since it is going to be based somewhere, he wants it to be in Vermont.

Sanders and other F-35 advocates may be quaking in their flight suits now that Petrarca's gotten involved on the other side. He fired up the campaign last year for legalization of cannabis in Burlington. A nonbinding referendum on the November ballot produced a 70 percent pro-pot majority.