Video by Chris Priest
Workers in Wisconsin wouldn’t be facing layoffs if the state’s finances were in better shape. One of the reasons states and the federal government are facing deficits is because many large corporations pay no federal income tax at all. In Boston on Saturday US Uncut rallied to support Wisconsin workers and called upon corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes.
About 50 people showed up at 9am to march to the Boston Bank of America. Police were on hand not to hinder, but help the protesters. They drove along the march on the way to the bank, stopping traffic to help them get through.
Cold winds swirled around as first 10, then 20, then 30 people gathered in Central Square, handmade signs and noisemakers in hand. US Uncut was taking its maiden voyage in Boston, coordinated with actions in 50 other cities across the nation. In the gathering were individuals from 10 to 70, ready to take on the nation’s largest commercial bank.
The group moved out with a police escort — half a dozen Cambridge police cars strung out along Mass Ave., tailing the marchers North as the march progressed. Chanting and pounding drums, cowbells and pans, the demonstrators worked their way to Harvard Square.
Gathering in front of the Bank of America branch across from Out of Town News kiosk, the protest, now 40 strong, picketed the Bank as a security officer and about five Cambridge cops looked on. The police were smiling, and only interfered to keep the picketing to one side of the sidewalk.
Someone reminded me that this particular bank had merged at least four times; before BoA grabbed it, it was a BayBank; before that a Fleet Bank; originally — and for many years– Harvard Trust. In a nutshell, that’s how the financial services sector is gobbling up local assets all over America and funneling profits into executives’ and investors’ private accounts. By the way, the Clinton Administration was responsible for removing major legal impediments that enabled corporations to make this vast takeover, so don’t just blame Republicans.
As they circled around and around, the activists chanted. “Cut from the top! Tax the corporations” “Bank of America is no good! Get them out of our neighborhood!” A young woman with a bullhorn alternately led chanting and turned to address passers-by, telling them what was happening. Several protesters passed out leaflets. Soon there were more than 50 in the picket line. A female bank employee came out and stood by, relaying information to somebody from her cell phone.
The action continues. It showed no signs of letting up when I left. It was amazing to see this flashmob materialize with only one week of organizing on the part of USuncut.org and realize that the same thing was happening in cities coast to coast. We owe a great debt of inspiration to the founders of UKuncut, who provided the benefit of their experience to the US organizers.
Many of the protesters said that they planned to get on the subway to attend the rally at the State House in solidarity with Wisconsin public employees. It’s been a long time since we had this kind of street action in Beantown, and it’s about time.
Long live US Uncut! Long live UK Uncut — at least until the job is done and corporations pay fair shares of taxes instead of sending workers, families and local governments deeper into debt.
Edit — Max Entropy