On Sunday, one man decided to take to the skies with a consumer drone to spread his manifesto over two NFL stadiums in California. He probably would have been better off just posting on Reddit.
A Wingcopter VTOL drone at the Dronemasters 2017 convention in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Getty)
The San Francisco 49ers were entering the second quarter of their face-off against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara when a suspect who has not been publicly identified flew a drone over the crowd. SFGate reports that the drone dropped "anti-media leaflets" from the air. Andrew Boyd, who attended the 49ers game, told ABC7 News that the crowd thought that free souvenirs were being dropped. "We wanted the free stuff," another crowd member said. "We didn't know if it was from the Niners or whom but we don't say no to free stuff."
But alas, there was no free stuff to be had. It was a just a note with a red "X" on it that was accompanied by a "lengthy text talking about the first amendment," according to ABC7 News. Lieutenant Dan Moreno of the Santa Clara Police Department told reporters that "it was some type of First Amendment propaganda free speech stuff. Something about TV stations being taken over."
The crowd went back to watching the game, surrounded by some fresh litter. But the suspect wasn't done yet. As police issued a lookout warning for the area, the drone-flying man with a message headed to Oakland Coliseum to repeat the stunt and deliver his "First Amendment propaganda free speech stuff" to Raiders fans.
The rapid manhunt ended up pulling in the FBI, California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement before the suspect was taken into custody. Moreno told NBC that most of the fliers were carried away from the stadiums by the wind and never reached the hands of football fans.
The suspect will now face charges related to violations of a federal rule that prohibits flying a drone within 8km of an airport, and a local ordinance that bars drones from the skies within 457m of Levi's Stadium. Authorities also impounded the man's drone.
Whomever this guy is, he wanted to send a message, and he tried to think outside the box. We'll give him that. But, considering the fact that the text of his flyer is nowhere to be found online, there doesn't seem to be video footage of the act, and no one on social media seems to be posting images of the leaflets, it appears that his campaign was an all-around failure. Just a little more media in his anti-media strategy really could've helped spread the word.
We've reached out to the Santa Clara Police Department for more information and to request images of the fliers. If any readers out there happened to snag a copy of the manifesto, send it our way. No drones necessary, an email will do just fine.