A man has landed himself in trouble with federal and local California authorities after using a drone to drop leaflets into the crowd at both Bay Area NFL stadiums on Sunday.
According to news reports, at the start of the second quarter of the San Francisco 49ers game with the Seattle Seahawks, fans noticed a drone flying over the crowd. It dropped “anti-media leaflets” as it flew.
There’s a federal law prohibiting flying a drone within five miles of an airport (Oakland Coliseum is less than five miles from Oakland Airport), and there’s a law in Santa Clara prohibiting drones from being flown within 500 feet of Levi’s Stadium.
Fans thought the tiny aircraft was there bearing gifts – free souvenirs for those enduring the Niners’ 10th loss in 11 games. But, alas, they were not.
“We wanted free stuff,” one person told ABC7 News. “We didn’t know if it was from the Niners or whom, but we don’t say no to free stuff.”
Instead, there were papers with a red “X” and a “lengthy text talking about the First Amendment,” KGO-TV reported.
Santa Clara Police Department spokesman Lt. Dan Moreno told reporters the flyers were “some type of First Amendment propaganda, free speech stuff. Something about TV stations being taken over.”
As police began searching for the culprit, the man headed to the area around Oakland Coliseum to do it again, dropping his flyers over fans at the Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos game. Oakland police arrested the man, ABC7 News reported.
The stunt wasn’t too successful: Moreno said wind grabbed most of the flyers, and they floated away without landing into the hands of fans, and as Gizmodo notes, there’s no video of the stunt or even a website somewhere touting the writings on the papers dropped into the stadiums.
And not only was it basically a failure, the manhunt for the unnamed suspect saw the California Highway Patrol, local police departments and the FBI involved, and the suspect is facing federal and local charges. The man also had his drone impounded.
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