[THS] Protest! Bring the System to a Halt!
The Harder Stuff in news and commentary
ths at psalience.org
Fri Feb 18 14:03:48 CET 2011
UK Uncut targets banks as copycat group forms in America
Anti-tax avoidance organisation aims to bring 30 Barclays branches to a standstill
while US Uncut plans own demonstrations
by Matthew Taylor
Hundreds of protesters are expected to occupy banks around the country amid signs
the direct action movement that has shut more than 100 high street stores in the UK
is spreading to the US.
Activists from UK Uncut, a campaign group set up five months ago to oppose
government cuts and corporate tax avoidance, will stage their first national day of
action against the banks on Saturday with protesters expected to bring more than 30
high street branches of Barclays to a standstill.
The group has previously targeted companies accused of avoiding millions of pounds
in tax. The demonstrations come as it emerged that protesters in the US have formed
a copy cat group, US Uncut.
"The folks in the UK who decided to stand up, organise and speak out are a daily
inspiration to me and the rest of the movement in the states," said Carl Gibson, 23,
one of the founders of the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi. "The message
is simple - before you sacrifice hard-working public sector employee's jobs and
necessary public programs, why not first make the richest of the rich pay their fair
share in taxes?"
Gibson, who started the first US group a week ago after reading a piece in the
Nation, told the Guardian there are already US Uncut "chapters" in 20 states and at
least 10 demonstrations planned for 26 February - the date of UK Uncut's second day
of action against the banks.
"I'm still getting emails pouring in daily from interested citizens who want to start
their own US Uncut movement in their community," said Gibson. "We have US Uncut
chapters in 20 states and on 26 February 26th ... the bulk of US Uncut chapters will
stage demonstrations at Bank of America locations all over. We have events planned
for Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Washington DC, New York City, New York,
Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts."
Protesters in the UK have mobilised thousands of activists using the Twitter hashtag
#UKuncut since the group was formed in October and Gibson says their expertise
has been critical for activists in the US.
"I'm in contact with UK Uncut founders on a daily basis," said Gibson, a former radio
"They've been instrumental in getting this movement off the ground here in the
states. They've helped with website development, Twitter and Facebook promotion,
and recruiting valuable assets with connections that can help us."
Today's action in the UK, which comes as banks reveal their multi-million pound
bonus packages, is expected to involve a range of peaceful and creative direct
In a foretaste protesters occupied a London branch of Barclays on Tuesday turning it
into a library. The demonstration coincided with the announcement that average
earnings at the bank's investment arm have risen by 23% and that CEO Bob
Diamond is in line for a bonus of more than £8m.
Toni Palmer, who lives in Islington, north London, took part in the demonstration:
"The banks caused this economic crisis because of their greed and reckless
gambling. But the people who are really being made to pay for it are ordinary
people," she said.
The government cuts mean Islington council is slashing its budget by £52m and is
being forced to axe a range of services including police community support officers
for primary schools, advice services for troubled teenagers, and help with shopping,
laundry and cleaning for the elderly.
Palmer said: "Our lives are being devastated by the billion pound cuts to essential
services that we all depend on. But Barclays is paying out bonuses of £2bn. This
shows that we are not all in this together."
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