If you see a drone in the United States, it's more likely to be a small quadcopter than a Predator (but you can see those too, on occasion). It's easy to forget that the country is waging a drone war half a world away, but a new campaign to stamp drones on cash hopes to make clear just how much the US military is relying on the tech overseas.
" In Drones We Trust" is a project by San Francisco-based artist Joseph Delappe. He recently made 100 Predator-shaped rubber stamps and mailed them to friends all around the country (and a couple internationally) in hopes that he could get a money-based protest started.
It's not subtle by any means, but it's still striking to see a Predator flying over iconic images of the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the US Treasury. It's a reminder that, in places like Pakistan, Predator drone strikes have become a fact of everyday life; meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI are flying Predators for domestic surveillance.
"I've had drones on the brain for a while now and I wanted to do something simple, something that was easy to get right away," Delappe told me. "When people see this, they'll think 'why is that on my money?' and hopefully learn more about what's happening."
Stamping or writing on money has long been a form of protest, and, no, it's most likely not illegal—as long as the cash remains usable and the statement isn't commercial, it's fair First Amendment speech.
"It becomes an interruption of everyday transactions. People are going to see this who normally wouldn't," he said. "That's what I like about this—it makes you think about something when you aren't expecting to think about it."