By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
If 50,000 tea party people gathered at state houses in all 50 states on Saturday, the media would have talked about nothing else on Sunday.
Some 50,000 progressives gathered at state houses in all 50 states on Saturday, and all we got from the media was a collective yawn.
I’m not complaining here. I’d rather see us gain heat and light over time, rather than flame out. Never forget, the liberation movement in Egypt was two years in the making.
Here’s a report from Truthout on the convergence between MoveOn and US Uncut, both of whom scheduled events for last Saturday on very short (days, not weeks) notice. The whole article is here.
Bank of America (B of A) is the first corporation to be targeted by US Uncut, the transatlantic offspring of the United Kingdom-based anti-austerity group UK Uncut, which held its first demonstration to protest corporate tax evasion in late 2010.
As a voice at the megaphone of the Portland protest said, “The United States does not have a deficit problem. The United States has a revenue problem.” According to a 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office, 25 percent of the biggest corporations pay no federal income tax. B of A, the recipient of $45 billion in bailout funds, shuttles its would-be tax dollars into 115 offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, budget deficits are cited as justification for pay freezes for public workers and cuts to heating assistance programs, Social Security, and other social safety nets.
“The $3 in my wallet is more than ExxonMobil, GE and Bank of America paid in taxes last year, combined,” said Carl Gibson, founder of the first American Uncut group, US Uncut Mississippi, in a release prior to the February 26 protests.
“There’s a direct connection between corporate tax dodging and what’s happening to real people’s lives,” said Gibson. “Because of overseas tax havens and other tax loopholes, US corporations are making profits in America but barely paying taxes here. If we close those loopholes, we wouldn’t have to be cutting back on firefighters, library hours and student loans.”
In its first weeks, the movement remains small but is already getting noticed. In Washington, DC, about 100 Uncut demonstrators closed down the B of A branch where their protest was staged. Boston organizer Chris Priest estimated turnout there at around 50.
Demonstrations in some other cities owed part of their numbers to spillover from MoveOn’s 30,000-strong rallies in solidarity with Wisconsin’s workers. In Philadelphia, a handful of people gathered in front of Comcast’s headquarters to protest its unfair tax advantage grew to more than 30 as they drew the attention of MoveOn supporters demonstrating nearby. Alec Johnson, the founder of US Uncut Columbus, spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 gathered at the Ohio statehouse in a rally cosponsored by Planned Parenthood and MoveOn. And about 200 people turned out to the capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia, in a protest to support both US Uncut’s message opposing attacks on the public sector and the wider worker solidarity movement that continues to ripple out from Madison.
Despite its size, the brand-new movement has already caught the attention of Fox News conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. In a February 24 segment, Beck painted the US and UK Uncut movements as a “radical” conspiracy.
“The fact that Glenn Beck is already coming after us, that’s interesting to me,” said Johnson. “When some big media gun gets on the airwaves and starts telling people that the organization I’m interested in is awful, that speaks to our power … and I’m a lot less scared of him.”
Posted on February 28th, 2011 by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
Filed under: Political Unrest