Apr 18 2011

Notes from a guerrilla book signing

Posted by: Nicholas Shaxson in: Thoughts

I had the most remarkable experience on Friday – a guerrilla book signing at the Verizon store in Union Station in Washington, D.C., towards the end of my U.S. book tour. This was organised by the superb grassroots group U.S. Uncut, and the idea was to sneak me into the Verizon store, set up a table, dump a bunch of copies of the new U.S. edition of Treasure Islands on it, and for me to start signing away.

It came off wonderfully. Take a look. I was struck by how forcefully the organisers stressed peaceful protest. “These people are not your enemy” they kept saying, talking about the store employees, and then the police, who were bound to show up. “We are fighting to protect their (police) salaries too.”

We collected outside the big bell in front of Union Station, alongside a couple of TV cameras, and then (the cops had already started watching us closely) we sauntered in separate groups of three, via various routes, towards the Verizon store.  I was only signing my fifth or sixth book, amid a lot of chanting, when the table was whipped out from under me by a security guard. After a few minutes the police turned up, and the moment we were asked to move on, we did, reassembling outside to keep signing.

I am not an activist or street protester by temperament or experience, and I would never have the, well, the balls, to stand up and shout in such surroundings. Hats off to them. The energy and conviction was really quite something. I felt honoured to be there, alongside such US Uncut greats as Carl Gibson, Ryan Clayton and Cut-Throat T-Bone Lee (“that’s my security name,” he explained. Apparently, my British accent was quite hilarious. He’s the one in the picture.)

I had no idea what Verizon’s tax position was (I still don’t) but you can bet that they are finding ways to bend the law without actually breaking it. And then there’s all that tax lobbying – note its 15 tax interventions here, for instance. A fabulous protest.

2 comments so far

[…] Nicholas Shaxson, whom I previously interviewed for this blog, also participated in some guerrilla activism with US Uncut at a Verizon store in the District. Verizon is a multibillion-dollar corporation […]

[…] his own words: “I was only signing my fifth or sixth book, amid a lot of chanting, when the table was […]

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