Members of US Uncut Mississippi will do a bail-in at the FedEx office on Ridgewood Court Road, at approximately 10 AM on Saturday, February 26th. We emphasize nonviolent direct action, and while we intend to tell police about our cause should they approach us, we do not intend to get arrested and further financially imperil any members at the protest.
Sat Feb 26th 2011
Added on Sat Feb 19th 2011, 9:35pm UTC — last updated Wed Feb 23rd 2011, 11:58pm UTC
Email CG at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Raising hell at the JXN FedEx print shop
Jackson, MS 2/26 US Uncut day of action: Short version
Roughly 20 or so people assembled at the FedEx print shop in Jackson, Mississippi, complete with signs, creative demonstrations, a polite 45-minute clash with management and security officers, and a confrontation with the Jackson Police Department before being ran off. We then drove to the Mississippi state capitol and joined the moveon.org demonstrations in solidarity with Wisconsin. The Mississippi tea party staged a counter-protest at the capitol, although we outnumbered them 5-1. I gave a 5-minute speech to the audience, complimented by cheering from the moveon crowd, and plenty of heckling from the tea party. Pictures and video to come.
Jackson, MS 2/26 US Uncut day of action: complete version
For a capital city, Jackson, Mississippi is a relatively small town. And the stigma around protesters and speaking out in society is less than favorable. I reckon that's understandable, given my state's historical penchant for our rabid position against adapting to the inevitable waves of society's constant progressive evolution. Whether it be slavery, civil rights, women's suffrage, health care reform or corporate tax dodging. I need not mention the shameful reputation of folks in my age range to sit complacently and obsess over our facebook profiles instead of get active and engaged in society.
But I'm proud to say that today, February 26, 2011, 18 Mississippians- young, old, black, white, gay, straight- took time out of their sunny, 70-degree Saturday to raise some hell at FedEx. And we did it without pay, abiding fully by the law, while remaining determined to tell people about our cause. We were joined by folks who drove 3 hours to be in Jackson with us that morning, from Oxford, up north, and from Biloxi, on the coast.
One of my friends joined Karin and Vicki, the two documentary filmmakers from New York City and Maryland, respectively, who I've been hosting here in Jackson for the past week, to shoot video of the protest. My roommate also helped film us with his own digital camera. Vicki agreed to be a decoy, not a part of the group, to get inside and observe covertly. Karin was outside, also filming incognito
Here's what went down.
A security guard standing outside the doors of the FedEx print and shipping center at 10 AM on a Saturday was a clear indicator that our presence there was known beforehand, and that they were ready for folks to come and start trouble.
We all walked in unison to the front door, and the security guard stepped out in front to stop us from coming in.
"No cameras. No signs. You can't come in or park here, unless you have business with FedEx. If you have a protest here, JPD (Jackson Police Department) will be called immediately."
I then decided for all of us to go in one by one, approach the counter as paying customers, and have ten copies of our US Uncut flyer printed. It would be a business transaction, which is completely legal, and if they want to refuse our service, they'll have to refuse each one of us, one by one.
I went inside first, had ten copies made of a flyer designed by a fellow Mississippi Uncutter (a front-and-back job full of great details and numbers on FedEx's corporate tax dodging and how we could uncut billions if corporations like FedEx paid taxes) and even paid $2.14 for it. While the man behind the counter was doing the work, I made chatty small talk with him about the gorgeous weather, and my eager anticipation at receiving my federal tax refund check in the mail. He didn't say anything back to me. The store was dead quiet. I forked over the cash, took my flyers and left.
After four more folks went inside, without signs, willing to be paying customers and trade currency for FedEx's services, the security guard at the door refused to let any other Uncutters inside the FedEx. Even after we'd made it clear that we intended to be paying customers, that we were off of the property, and that we were fully abiding by the law and doing so with complete respect for the business and its customers.
Then, Vicky agreed to walk inside and pretend to be an interested customer while another one of us attempted entry and was subsequently refused. He came out a few minutes later with no copies in his hand. Vicky had asked him what he was doing, and when he mentioned he was trying to get flyers copied for a protest on corporate tax dodgers like FedEx (who made $37 billion in profit while paying only 5% in taxes) the owner rudely told him he had to leave.
At this point we were attempting to get anything copied- business cards, receipts, anything. The guard outside steadfastly refused any of us entry into the store. After Vicki went inside, the security guard approached me.
"Our head of corporate security would like to speak with you," The man said. I agreed and followed him inside to the back room of the store, while another Mississippi Uncutter went into the store immediately after me.
A tall, gruff man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and a blue hat attempting an intimidating demeanor puffed out his chest and glared at me as I strolled in with a wide smile, sporting a three-piece suit and aviator sunglasses. I put my aviators in my breast pocket and shook the man's hand, telling him my first and last name. He shook my hand, but wouldn't give me his name or job title after I repeatedly asked him several times.
"You gotta go," The man barked. "You people are having a protest on private property, and I won't allow it."
"Sir, we're not on your property. And we're taxpaying citizens who are also paying customers at this store, with currency ready and willing to trade for your services," I said politely but firmly.
"Well, I'm having people coming in and disturbing my customers." the man said icily.
"No, your customers are asking folks questions about what we're doing, and we're answering them with facts, like the fact that FedEx uses almost two dozen offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying federal income taxes," I said. When I brought up the fact about FedEx, the man's face got red and he gave me a hateful stare. "And the last time I checked, we're taxpaying customers using our hard-earned cash to give you our business. And you're STILL not paying your taxes."
The man's stony glare hardened. "Your people are no longer allowed on this property."
"For what, talking to people and waiting in line as paying customers?" I responded. "What about our First Amendment rights to the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly granted by the U.S. Constitution?"
"I don't care about that," the man said flatly. "Its time for you to go.
"We're taxpaying citizens just following the law," I said. "What about you? Aren't you a law-abiding, taxpaying citizen just like the rest of us?"
"Have a nice day." He retorted.
As I walked out, Vicky brilliantly played the role of the Curious Bystander.
"What are you protesting?" She asked, reminding me of a kind, inquisitive soccer mom out running errands.
"Well, we're speaking out against corporations like FedEx that don't pay taxes like you and me," I said. I noticed the gruff man in the sweatshirt was angrily pointing towards the door. Vicky grabbed my arm and stopped me.
"What do you mean?
"Well, FedEx made over $30 billion in revenue last year, while getting away with paying a 5% income tax rate." I said.
"SIR, LEAVE. NOW." The man yelled from across the store. And I did.
When I got outside, one of our protesters got the idea to try and just drop off a package at the shipping center- he had even paid for the label. When they refused him entry, he called FedEx corporate and told them he wasn't allowed in the Jackson, Mississippi 39216 location by the location's management. The poor woman on the hone with him asked why, and he told them he didn't know- FedEx was serving other customers, but not him. FedEx put him on hold for 15 minutes, and then eventually told him he could go to a new location, or just get a refund on the package. He took the refund.
Eventually, JPD showed up. I greeted the officer as he stepped out of his car with my hand outstretched. The officers were very polite with us, and after they went to talk to the corporate security guards, they came back over to me and told me while they weren't sure what I was doing wrong, since everything we had done up to that point was perfectly within our rights to do, they said we were starting to create a disturbance, and that it would be best if we moved on. So we did. All in all, we were at FedEx for about 45 minutes.
Afterward, myself and my group went to the Mississippi state capitol to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin's teachers and union workers. I gave a two-minute speech on the capitol steps that was met with cheers from the moveon protesters and with heckling from the Mississippi tea party, who was staging a counter-protest. I told them plainly that corporations not paying taxes was the direct reason all of us were poor and destitute and losing our jobs, and that we're all fighting the same fight.
Not long after we left FedEx, Vicky wrote on my facebook wall:
"Si(t)ting in Fedex as a decoy where a middle-aged woman working on a computer next to me said she wished the kids out there would all just go to work. She said people in Jackson never protest anything. They do now, baby!!
Young people are getting active and involved. Look out, corporate tax dodgers.
Beware the Ides of March.