They were shocking images last month. Uncontrolled youth staged mass austerity protests, demonstrations, and lashed out in violence. In the middle of it all was a radical group called UK Uncut, which organized a mass sit-in and "occupied" a luxury grocer.
So what if we told you that UK Uncut has spread to the U.S.? It's true. There's now a group called US Uncut devoted to protesting budget cuts on this side of the pond. One of their first big moves? They're the ones behind the fake General Electric press release that duped the Associated Press. And that's just the beginning of what they have planned. This weekend, they take to the streets.
"At a time when working families are being asked to accept massive cuts nationwide, this action showed another way the world could work," US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson said in a press release about the GE scam. "For a brief moment people believed that the biggest corporate tax dodger had a change of heart and actually did the right thing. But the only way anything like this is really going to happen is if we change the laws that allow corporate tax avoidance in the first place."
But duping press agencies doesn't seem to be what gave the group its biggest high. Rather, it seems that the effect the fake release had on the company's stock -- which eerily imitates Stephen Lerner's economic terrorism plan -- is what got the group really excited. See, during the time the fake release was believed to be real, GE's stock took a hit. US Uncut bragged about it:
In the period the hoax was believed, GE's stock plunged by .6% (far more than the value of the supposed return), then quickly recovered as soon as it became apparent the press had been duped. "Obviously, GE can't possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging," noted Gibson. "That's why we must change the law."
According to the group's website, fake press releases are just the beginning. It's currently organizing mass protests across the country for the April 15 tax-day weekend -- this weekend. It boasts the number will reach nearly 100:
"In the wake of a satirical media prank on GE with help from the Yes Men, US Uncut is planning a weekend of nearly 100 Tax Day actions between April 15th and April 18th," the group said in a press release. "The group makes a direct connection between recently announced budget cuts and a corporate culture of tax evasion."
While all sings indicate the protests are planned to be peaceful (and the group says it advocates non-violence), considering the group's roots, might there be cause for concern?
Consider this: the group has already marched with communists, as reported by the communist online webzine People's Word. The outlet posted this video:
And when the the founder of the group's parent organization, UK Uncut, was asked about the actions of his protesters in London, he responded that while the group certainly doesn't advocate violence, he cannot control what others decide to do. Aw shucks:
Mr Costello tells his followers they can ‘peacefully and non-violently’ shut down stores by sitting in them, rather than smashing them up.
But ultimately he cannot control what they do. Observers at Fortnum & Mason said some of the activists there were menacing, clad in black and threatening customers, while others daubed anarchist symbols on the walls.
Additionally, an article in Frances Fox Piven's favorite outlet, The Nation, coaches organizers on how to establish US Uncut, and it contains some ominous instructions. Author Johann Hari uses language such as "identify a tax dodger to target," "determine the best way to shut it down," and then "shut down the target." Also, "aim to have shutdowns arranged in as many cities as possible," and when you're done with one, "do it again" but "bigger."
100 protests in a single weekend sure seems to be in line with those orders. We'll see if they mirror London.