Marvin Heemeyer was fucking pissed. He'd just spent four years working to block the construction of a concrete plant on the lot next to his muffler shop, knowing that the subsequent rezoning would cut off access to his business from the road and require an absurdly expensive update to his drainage and sewer connection, and the Town Council of Granby, Colorado had ultimately voted to allow construction to commence. This concrete plant was going to ruin him, and none of his protests seemed to matter at all to the powerful people making the final decisions.
So he did what any one of us would have done: he spent the next year and a half secretly reinforcing a Komatsu D355A bulldozer with steel plates, concrete slabs, and bulletproof glass (It was later dubbed the “Killdozer” by the media), and on June 4, 2004, he used it to mount an assault on the concrete plant, the homes and businesses of town council members, and Granby Town Hall. By the time he was finished he had destroyed over a dozen buildings and caused more than $4 million in damage.
I guess now that I've written it out I can see I probably wouldn't have done that. You probably wouldn't have, either.
We can dream, though.
Last week I read this New York Times article about US senators dumping their personal stocks immediately after attending a confidential briefing in January about the then-approaching coronavirus pandemic (And in at least one case, jumping on the exciting opportunity to invest in telecommunications futures). It might just be the stress of being stuck inside basically quarantined during a global pandemic, or the fact that the Senate’s recent stimulus bill provides $500 billion to corporations but doesn’t expand anyone’s healthcare, but this story is really making me want to shop for a used bulldozer.
Maybe a Congressional insider trading scandal would be easier to process if we all hadn't just spent the last two months watching our elected officials perfect their impressions of the Mayor from Jaws, insisting, "The beaches are perfectly safe! So's our economy and our healthcare infrastructure!," the whole time they were making pandemic investments. Actually I take it back, this is an unfair comparison. There's never a scene in Jaws where you see Mayor Vaughn make a frenzied call to his broker to sell all his suntan lotion and inner tube stocks after he sees the first couple of shark-chewed corpses.
These people have known for months exactly how bad things are about to get. And instead of using that time to determine any consistent national plans for social distancing or medical preparation or economic relief for those likeliest to be devastated by what's about to happen, they've been updating their stock portfolios. “What Now?”, that above Times headline asks, providing you a fun Choose Your Own Adventure-type opportunity to decide for yourself what an appropriate response would be. I know I have some ideas.
Heemeyer revved up the Killdozer at just past 3 PM. He used a mini crane to lower the reinforced armor shell onto the vehicle, effectively locking himself inside. Once secure, he drove onto the neighboring property and began tearing down buildings at the concrete plant. “His first target was the small precast shop,” according to this archived article from The Concrete Producer. “Heemeyer flattened it, yet somehow the two employees inside escaped injury.” Cody Docheff, the owner of the plant, jumped into his own front-end loader and attempted to ward Heemeyer off, but his vehicle was no match for the armored bulldozer.
Heemeyer then started ramming the building while slowly circling it. Parts of the building caved in on themselves. Sheriff's deputies came, but were powerless. About the only part of the building Heemeyer didn't damage or destroy was the batch plant. The Docheffs speculate Heemeyer feared that if he knocked it over, it would topple onto the bulldozer.
Heemeyer turned his bulldozer onto Agate Avenue and pointed it south in the direction of the rest of the town. He had a plan and knew exactly where his enemies lived and worked.
Heemeyer smashed through Granby for over an hour. He crushed a bank, a general store, an electric company, a newspaper office, and a printing company, among other buildings. He pulverized street signs and parked cars, and unsuccessfully attempted to detonate propane tanks and electrical transformers.
The destruction was personal. At the bank, he aimed directly at the corner office where a woman who sat on the zoning board worked. Dick Thompson served on the town council for 20 years and was mayor when the zoning dispute started, but died recently. Heemeyer destroyed the home where his 82-year-old widow lived.
Cops fired over 200 rounds at the rampaging Killdozer, and Heemeyer shrugged them off like they were gnats. One officer climbed on top of the moving vehicle as it roared through town and dropped an explosive device into its exhaust pipe, but the blast had seemingly little effect. The Killdozer continued bashing through town like a diesel-fueled juggernaut. Heemeyer had really thought this all out.
President Fuckhead has been saying for days now that this whole social distancing thing has been fun and all, but it’s time for you poor impoverished haters and losers to get back to work so we can keep the stock market humming along the way he likes. Two weeks ago he had the Federal Reserve throw $1.5 trillion at the market to counteract an economy-imperiling drop and then we watched the drop continue more or less unabated. Now it’s looking like this piece of shit wants to try the same thing again, only this time instead of pumping money that could have gone toward healthcare into the market, he wants to feed it the bodies of our nation’s elderly and immunocompromised.
Just as a quick fun contrast, check out this story from the New York Daily News, in which ISIS has warned its membership roster of Islamic terrorists to stay away from Europe until the pandemic is under control.
Would-be martyrs learned of the travel ban in the ISIS newsletter al-Naba just before the weekend got underway, according to outlets including Homeland Security Today.
The newsletter reportedly urges ISIS’ operatives outside of Europe not to enter the continent while asking supporters and insurgents already there not to leave.
Terrorists serving the Islamic State are also reminded to wash their hands and cover their mouths when yawning and sneezing. The warning reportedly included a full page info-graphic teaching ISIS members how to avoid spreading the pandemic.
It’s encouraging to finally see some real leadership in a time of crisis. Also, ISIS has a newsletter? Oh damn, are they also using Substack? Would they want to trade links, you think?
Meanwhile, it’s been just as distressing to see lots of people who should know better express confidence in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, pictured above in a press briefing last week in which he used a visual aid of a seesaw to sell the idea that there’s an acceptable number of old people who we can offer as a blood sacrifice to the Dow. I know that everything’s relative, so the guy who’s actually testing for the virus is bound to look better than the guy who has said the virus is a liberal hoax, but it’s a pretty depressing binary nonetheless.
It’s enough to make you start shopping for some big fuzzy dice to hang from the reinforced closed-circuit video monitors you’re using in place of a rearview mirror.
Heemeyer’s rampage ended when he demolished Gambles General Store, another business owned by one of the town council members. The weight of the reinforced Killdozer was too much for the store’s wooden floorboards, and the vehicle stalled out after crashing through to the building’s basement. At 4:30 PM, authorities heard a muffled shot from within the bulldozer’s cab. Heemeyer had taken his own life.
“Depression is just anger turned inward” is one of those unhelpful psychological catch-all bromides that has always irritated me more than it’s ever been helpful, but I have to admit it applies pretty well here. Heemeyer turned his anger on as much of Granby and its town council members as he could, and when he ran out of those targets he had nowhere left to aim that anger but at himself. He might have found help if he’d had access to mental healthcare, but as you’re probably already aware, that access is pretty unlikely when you’ve just lost your job.
In case I’ve been unclear - and before I receive a visit from the Secret Service - I’m not a violent person, and I’m definitely not advocating any violence (lol please don’t build your own Killdozer). Marvin Heemeyer was a dipshit with an anger problem, and just because no one was physically harmed during his tough guy bulldozer temper tantrum doesn’t mean he’s some hero of the disenfranchised. Heemeyer held a dumb grudge over some money, and he almost killed a bunch of children who were reading in the library inside Granby Town Hall just before he demolished it. Fuck him.
However, I’ve long been fascinated by the way that Great Depression-era bank robbers attained a level of celebrity among Americans who had lost everything to failing banks and an indifferent federal government. Destitute farmers knew that bank robbers weren’t good people, but if those bad people were hurting the banks and the government, it provided a small amount of vicarious power and comfort. Heemeyer wasn’t a hero any more than John Dillinger was, but as our current institutional precarity increasingly resembles the era that allowed the latter to become a celebrity, I’m allowing myself some idle fantasies.
At Rikers Island in New York City, preparations have been made. Not preparations regarding the health and safety of the incarcerated or the corrections officers at the island’s detention facilities, because the city really could give a shit about any of them, but preparations for the death toll the pandemic will inevitably take in one of the wealthiest and most densely populated cities in the world.
According to this Daily Beast article, plans have been made for Rikers inmates to earn $1/hour digging mass graves for coronavirus deaths on Hart Island, “a desolate spit of land off the coast of the Bronx in Long Island Sound that functions as the city’s public cemetery.” Rikers inmates have already been digging these unmarked graves for the city’s poor and homeless for over a century, burying 20-25 unembalmed bodies per week. That number is about to rise, and all those unembalmed bodies will now likely be carrying a virus.
One wonders if these workers will be allowed to use a bulldozer.