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Recently, a group called U.S. Uncut has been organizing protests at Bank of America and other corporations for the past month. The movement began with U.K. Uncut, which was formed by British workers angry at the draconian austerity measures targeted at the middle class. U.S. Uncut was formed and quickly followed suit.
On March 26, U.S. Uncut joined in an international day of protest “targeting corporate tax cheats connected to cuts in valuable public services.” The primary target of the group has been local Bank of America branches although there were some protests at other so-called tax dodgers like Verizon and FedEx.
“Bank of America is bankrupting America,” said US Uncut DC organizer and spokesperson Armand Biroonak, “When they don’t pay their fair share, just like the rest of us, then we are forced to cut $1.7 billion in early childhood education (Head Start & Title I). In America, do we want tax cheats or teachers?”
U.S. Uncut has used primarily social networking sites to get their message out. They have not received much press, but already has over 16,000 fans on their Facebook page. “Big corporations in our country dodge up to $100 billion every year,” said US Uncut Seattle organizer and self-described populist Laurie Dunivant-Larsen, “If they paid their taxes this year like the rest of us do, we could also stop the $100 billion in cuts to college loans. With all these tropical tax havens, US corporations make profits in America but barely pay any taxes here. That’s cheating – it’s immoral and un-American.”
The protests have also spread to other parts of the world. Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, France, Ireland, and Australia all have branches of the group. The U.K. group is still the largest. On Saturday, during the international day of protests, demonstrators in London brought the city to a halt. The Guardian estimates that over 250,000 people were at the protests however some activists suggest the number was closer to 500,000. In the U.S., one of the largest protests was held outside a local Bank of America branch in Washington, D.C. The demonstrators carried a large banner that read “Tax Dodger,” and screamed, “Pay your Taxes.” The group handed out fact sheets on how Bank of America does not pay taxes and was successfully able to shut down the branch. One member of the protests attempted to get into the bank in order to close his account. Although, he showed his Bank of America card to security, he was denied entry.
“The government say there is no alternative to the cuts,” said Laura Carpenter of UK Uncut, “The government is making a political choice to cut and privatize public services whilst there are clear alternatives, like making the banks pay for the crisis that they caused or clamping down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals.”
“Maybe there isn’t a spending problem. Maybe it is a revenue problem,” said Carl Gibson, Co-Founder of US Uncut from Mississippi, “We The People just have to make sure that corporate tax cheats pay up.”