Design and Violence



Lockboxes are DIY devices made by activists to enable them to ‘lock on’ to each other or to other objects to resist being moved by police. They consist of a tube, usually a PVC pipe, with an attachment point inside to which one or two protestors can connect themselves with a carabiner or similar device. The pipe is covered with layers of materials such as tar, gravel, chicken-wire and duct tape to make it hard to cut through, requiring careful and slow work on the part of the authorities if they are not to injure the occupant. The lockbox’s ‘weak link’ — the vulnerability of the human body inside — is what makes it resistant to undoing. But this effect relies on systems of accountability outside of the lock, too: on the personal ethics and training of police, on media observers to document their actions, and on a justice system to protect them from unwarranted harm. Lockboxes were part of the equipment used by protesters to shut down London City Airport in September 2016.