US UNCUT’S LA BRANCH FAILS
March 30, 2011 § 4 Comments
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.
So wrote Emily Dickinson some time back, and it was with that same hope that I got up early last Saturday morning, put on my protesting boots and made my way to the downtown Bank of America branch at 7th and Figueroa, here in Los Angeles.
I was attending the LA portion of the national day of protest organized by US Uncut, a new genuinely grass roots organization focused on raising awareness of the blatant and disgusting tax evasion being practiced by massively profitable corporations in this country, resulting in the slashing of public services in the name of ‘balancing’ state and federal budgets.
US Uncut had already staged some successful sit-ins at BOA branches before, peacefully disrupting business as they demanded the money that is owed to all of us. Yes, it’s a small movement at this stage but video that I’d seen showed dozens of people attending these events- enough, certainly, to garner attention on Huffington Post and other news sites. The night before last Saturday I’d gone to US Uncut’s Facebook page (around 16,000 members so far) and saw that over 80 people had committed to come with more than 100 maybes.
The rally was due to start at 9. I arrived at 930.
Well, close to nothing. A person setting up a camera. Two others standing idly with that mixture of wonder and sheepishness at being all alone in their vigil.
By ten there were four. I interviewed all of them, footage you can see on the video attachment. At a certain point a couple left and two more people showed up. These people were articulate and passionate about the movement in addition to being profoundly disappointed at the pathetic turnout.
I posted some tweets and facebook updates concerning my dissatisfaction with my fellow Los Angeles US Uncut members’ failure to show up. In response I received some platitudinous remarks reminding me that “all movements start small” and the like.
Of course that’s inarguable. No one should ever be embarrassed by a small turnout for a protest, even if it’s just one soul. The difference here is that US Uncut, while still being a relatively small national movement, had very successful sit-ins in San Fransisco (they briefly closed down the branch), Washington and New York, among other cities. Eighty people committed to showing up in LA and almost none of them did.
We can never complain about the conditions afflicting us in this country if we don’t show. Having lived in this city for over three years now, I know it’s the norm to practice intellectual dishonesty when it comes to promising to ‘be there’. While I find it offensive in everyday life, it becomes something more galling and sad when it takes place in the civic and political arena.
Please support US Uncut. Go to their website. Visit their Facebook page. Get involved in any way that you can.
My thanks goes to the people who showed and allowed themselves to be interviewed. Apologies for the video distortion on some of the clips; many tears flowed as I tried to solve these technical riddles.
And if you’re one of those people who committed to being there last Saturday and didn’t appear, I say that you let the movement and yourselves down. Let’s hope there’s a next time.