The contents of this article are for information and educational purposes only. Patriot Propaganda does not officially recommend using any of the tactics, techniques or procedures presented. 


To boldly articulate a demand; to rebrand a target; to provide a message frame or larger- than-life caption for an action.



What better way to air the dirty laundry of an irresponsible institution than to hang a giant banner over its front door? A banner drop can also be an effective way to frame or contextualize an upcoming event or protest. Banner hangs can also function as public service announcements to alert the public of an injustice or a dangerous situation. 


Banner hangs can be as low-tech and low-risk as several bedsheets tied to road overpasses decrying the Iraq War, but the ones that really pack a punch involve large pieces of cloth or netting deployed at great heights, often by experienced climbers. 


Regardless of the level of risk or complexity, all effective banner hangs start with a clear goal (you have a goal, right?!), and fall into two broad categories: communicative (concise protest statements) , and concrete (blockade elements that directly disrupt business as usual). In 1991, in a great example of a banner hang with a concrete goal, small communities in the Pacific Northwest asked for help to stop nuclear warships from entering Clatsop County, Oregon, a designated nuclear-free zone on the Columbia River. 


An enormous net banner was deployed from the Astoria Bridge, affixed below the span where it would be difficult to remove, and weighted by the climbers’ bodies themselves. The action succeeded in delaying the warships’ entrance while educating the area on the issue. 


Most banner hangs, however, tend to be communicative. Take, for instance, the banner hung from a crane in downtown Seattle in November 1999 just before the opening of the World Trade Organization meeting. The banner messaging was as clear as day: an iconic visual of a street sign with arrows pointing in opposite directions: democracy this way, W/O that way. This was a classic “framing action.” Hung on the eve of a big summit meeting and a huge protest, the banner made it clear what all the fuss to come was really about: a basic struggle of right and wrong; the People vs. WTO. 


When there is no crane, bridge or building to hang your banner from, large helium-filled weather balloons have been used to raise everything from CODEPINK’s “pink slip for President George Bush” in front of the White House to a banner deployed from a houseboat on the East River in New York with a message for the UN. Smaller balloons have been used to raise banners indoors in the atriums of malls or corporate or government buildings. 



If the banner hang requires specific climbing skills or tools, do not skimp on training, scouting, or the quality of gear. Cutting corners could result in the banner snagging, the team being detained before the banner drops, or someone getting seriously injured or killed. Pay attention to changing weather conditions that could turn a proverbial walk in the park into a life-threatening situation. Also make sure that lighting, lettering, height of building and other factors are taken into account to ensure a readable banner. 



If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying loudly! If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing boldly! What better way to put your message out there, than to spell it out in twelve-foot-high letters? 


This article was adapted from Boyd, Andrew. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution. OR Books, 2012.


Other References:

  1. Sharp, Gene. From Dictatorship to Democracy. Serpent’s Tail, 2022.
  2. Beer, Michael, et al. Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.
  3. Popović, Srđa, and Hardy Merriman. CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle: Students Book. Serbia, CANVAS, 2007.
  4. Stephen, and Steve Lambert. The Art of Activism: Your All-Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible. OR Books, 2021.
  5. Marovic, Ivan. The Path of Most Resistance: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planning Nonviolent Campaigns, 2nd Edition. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.
  6. Sholette, Gregory. The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art. New York, United States, Macmillan Publishers, 2022.
  7. Clark, Howard; Garate. Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns. Revised edition, War resisters’ International, 2022.
  8. Thompson, Nato. Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Twenty-first Century. Melville House, 2015. 
  9. Gavin, Francesca, and Alain Bieber. The Art of Protest: Political Art and Activism. Gestalten, 2022.
  10. Miller, Matthew, and Srđa Popović. Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World. Random House, 2015.
  11. Alinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage; Reissue edition, 1989.
  12. Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. Ig Publishing, 2004.
  13. Abbott, Daniel. The Handbook of 5GW: A Fifth Generation of War? Amsterdam, Netherlands, Adfo Books, 2021.

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