The US Uncut community is buzzing in anticipation of Saturday’s big national day of action. Around forty cities are signed up at the official website, and several of the organizers contacted me to offer a preview for what they’re planning this weekend.
For Justin Wedes, a representative from the New York chapter, the overall message of the day will be about reframing the debate about the recession. “Don’t cut federal and state budgets that pay for firefighters, cops, teachers and other important services when large corporations are evading their taxes. In other words, we don’t have a budget problem. We have a revenue problem,” he says.
Part of the revenue problem stems from America’s growing class divide. For example, just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. As Michael Moore pointed out in a recent speech, many of these lavishly rich individuals benefited directly from the bailout, and many also exploit America’s current two-tier economic system in which average citizens are asked to pay taxes while corporations abscond with billions of dollars that could save public jobs and repair infrastructure. The entire crooked system is economic treason.
Saturday will be about raising the profile of the group and also about bringing awareness of America’s revenue problem to the very people being asked to sacrifice their already meagre services. “Manhattan alone has [more than] 150 Bank of America branches,” Wedes says. “Where better to start to raise some awareness?”
The DC team told me they’re unconcerned with specific turnout numbers as long as those who do show up are ready to take meaningful action. “If we can shut down or disrupt the business of corporate tax evaders with continuous creative non-violent direct actions, we do not care if one thousand people are involved or five people,” according to a statement from their chapter.
In DC, they’re encouraging decentralized local planning with a goal of eventually being able to “stage multiple locally led demonstrations all across the city on a regular basis.” As in New York, their target will be Bank of America.
Leslie Dreyer from the San Francisco chapter sent me the branch’s action guide that details what’s planned for Saturday, and without going into specific details, also adheres to the plan of “occupy and disrupt” services within Bank of America.
The protest in Ohio will look a little different since Bank of America doesn’t have branches in the state (there are ATMs, but no banking centers). Representative Alec Johnson tells me the group will be focusing on Verizon instead. “What really grabbed me was learning that they were able to avoid taxes through an alliance with UK’s Vodaphone,” says Johnson. Vodafone is another tax dodger that has been the target of UK Uncut since its inception. Johnson was thrilled with the unifying connection. “It was like Christmas in March,” he says.
As for the mission, Johnson reiterates what I’m hearing from all chapters of US Uncut. This movement, including the actions Saturday, will be about emphasizing that America has lots of money, but it’s simply going into the coffers of a very small number of ruling elites who are refusing to give back to the society that facilitated their wealth. US Uncut hopes to unite working Americans currently tearing at one another’s throats over the crumbs left behind by a callous plutocracy, according to Johnson.
"We insist on shifting the frame from Workers vs. Taxpayers to Honest Tax-Paying Americans vs. Wall Street Fraudsters and Corporate Tax Cheats,” he says.