Tea Party vs. US Uncut: A San Francisco Tax Day Showdown
The San Francisco April 15 US Uncut rally
The group's own event listing for the rally said:
Location: meet at St. Mary's Square park - Quincy St. (just north of Grant Ave.) b/n California & Pine St. in SF. We'll be visiting infamous tax dodgers in this neighborhood
Time: 5pm - let's show the rush hour crowd how Uncutters like to make noise!
Who: All ages show - Bring friends, neighbors, grandparents, teachers, union workers, students, and all others
But I showed up at exactly 5:01pm and the picture above shows what St. Mary's Square looked like. Absolutely deserted.
Confused, I asked the guy in the blue shirt if there had been a rally or a group of people of any sort in the park recently. He said yes, in fact, a small group of people with a marching band had briefly been in the park but had left about ten minutes prior.
From the event description I guessed they were marching to the nearby Bank of America world headquarters, so I headed off to look for them. But halfway down the block I encountered this guy. Judging from his sign, I assumed he was also looking for the US Uncut event. We fell into a conversation and I told him that the park was completely deserted. He was like, WTF??? It's still five o'clock!" I said I was going off in search of the rally and invited him to join me, but he instead continued up to the park in a futile quest for the elusive rally.
I went to the Bank of America but I was too late -- they had already come and gone. A guard there confirmed that about 40 people had shown up and left after about five minutes. Although I missed all the action, I luckily was able to track down US Uncut's own video of their "flash mob" invading the B of A main branch:
As you can see, the entire event is highly rehearsed -- all the Uncutters have practiced their dance moves together ahead of time along with the marching band. At 1:55 into the video you can get an overview of all the protesters -- I counted around 45, to be generous.
US Uncut advertised this as the true populist uprising rally, as a contrast to the phony astroturfed Tea Party. But if you invite the public to a rally beginning at 5pm and running to 6:30pm, and the organizers show up as a group early at the assigned place and then depart ten minutes before the public even has a chance to join in; and then go on a flash-mob march that features rehearsed choreographed dances; then it becomes completely obvious that this isn't a mass movement, but rather just a small activist group doing political skits which they had practiced ahead of time, with no public involvement whatsoever.
But wait -- it gets much much worse. Another one of US Uncut's official in-house videographers was also filming the day's event, and put together a 13-minute video of the day's entire protest. You can watch the whole thing here if you're interested; but to save you time I took their own video and excerpted two crucial parts which reveal the utterly phony populism of the whole affair.
The two-minute video is presented below: the first minute shows the SF US Uncut troupe doing their rehearsed and choreographed dance routine. As you watch it, pay close attention and note one of their members wearing a light beige shirt, sunglasses hanging around his neck, with a balding pate and a five-o'clock shadow. You can't miss him in the crowd. But then keep watching. The second minute shows US Uncut about 15 minutes later after they have exited the bank and are now walking down the street. The videographer asks the exact same guy, "Are you here for this demonstration?", to which he replies, "No, I'm just wandering by, but I think all corporations should pay their taxes!" Not satisfied that the performance was believable, the videographer then asks him to repeat the lie so that she can get a better take. Busted!
Here's the transcription starting at 1:08:
US Uncut videographer: Why doesn't B of A pay their taxes? Do you agree?
US Uncut member: I agree completely.
US Uncut videographer: Are you here for this demonstration?
US Uncut member: Say that again?
US Uncut videographer: Are you here for this demonstration?
US Uncut member: No, I'm just wandering by, but I think all corporations should pay their taxes. All of us have to.
US Uncut videographer: Thank you for joining us! Great! That's great.
US Uncut videographer: Say that again -- I cut you off. Say it again.
US Uncut member: I said, I was just wandering by, but I couldn't agree more, all corporations should pay their taxes.
US Uncut videographer: And how about all the banks?
US Uncut member: Especially the banks. They make lots of money and they don't really do anything.
US Uncut videographer: They don't.
US Uncut member: They just hold it for us and give it back to us, and make a profit off of it. They should pay taxes. We pay taxes.
US Uncut videographer: And the Republicans want to steal all the money from the poor. They're not asking for the corporations or banks to pay taxes.
US Uncut member: I bet they wouldn't call it that. They wouldn't call it stealing.
US Uncut videographer: What would they call it, do you think?
US Uncut member: They call it budget cuts.
US Uncut videographer: Yeah! Alright! Very astute! Thank you for coming!
Now, if an organized Tea Party group got caught interviewing one of their own members who falsely claimed to be just a random passerby who joined the protest on the spur of the moment, the left-leaning blogs and media would make it front page news, proof positive that Tea Party populism is fake and that it's not really an authentic populist uprising.
What do you think the response will be to this evidence? (No need to reply -- we already know the answer.)
It seems the only two unrehearsed members of the public who wanted to join the UN Uncut rally were me and the guy with the bicycle. And at least one of us was only there to observe skeptically. Mass movement!
Anyway, I had missed their invasion of the B of A headquarters, but as I wandered around the financial district in search of the protest, I heard a ruckus in the distance and ran in the direction of the sound.
I caught the 45 or so protesters as they approached Market Street, and I snapped a few pictures.
They carried a huge banner condemning "Corporate Tax Cheats" and the US Uncut logo.
Their other slogan was "Chop from the top." Notice that by chance I captured the same faux-passerby among the marchers (right center of the photo).
We went to another Bank of America branch and repeated the same dance that had been done earlier.
How mainstream is US Uncut? Well, one of their members thought it was a good idea to wear a shirt honoring Assata Shakur, the convicted murderer, Marxist revolutionary and Black Liberation Army member who escaped from a life sentence in jail and managed to flee to Cuba where she remains a fugitive protected by the communist regime there. Mainstream populism, here we come!
I eventually bailed out on US Uncut and went back to the Embarcadero to see if I could catch the tail end of the Tea Party event.