Let’s say you are a corporation. After all, corporations are people according to Mitt Romney and the 1%ers. So this isn’t much of a stretch, right? And your corporation is against a bunch of “tree hugging hippies” (as you see it) trying to use resources like water for good instead of them being your free liquid dumpster. You go around and try to drum up support for your personal corporate cause but find no support. What do you do?
You reach into your deep billionaire pockets and hire some protesters to fake the outrage you alone feel.
Really, that’s what you would do. That’s what one very real corporation recently did, and now they are caught.
As Creative Loafing Tampa reports, this has all the makings of an Arrested Development plot. This does indeed scream “Tobias Funke.” But unfortunately, this isn’t a TV sitcom plot, this is real life. And in this real life, some very bad corporate players have been busted trying to manufacture outrage that doesn’t exist to protect their unfettered polluting of South Florida’s cherished waterways.
This story occured in West Palm Beach, Florida where the South Florida Water Management District was meeting. The district is currently considering a land deal in which the state would buy thousands of acres of land south of Lake Okechobee that would be used for polluted lake flood water treatment and storage. That clean water would then flow into the Everglades instead of being piped out untreated into coastal waterways, which is currently the standard operating procedure today.
And that status quo is just fine with U.S. Sugar who uses the area for their own personal liquid dumpster.
U.S. Sugar knew that a bunch of executives showing up in suits probably wouldn’t sway the officials from nixing the plan and allowing the company to continue just doing things as they have always done, without care to anyone or anything but profits. They needed real people who were obviously outraged over “big government” stomping on their “small business.”
Except those people didn’t exist outside their corporate board room or the Governor’s mansion. Because this wasn’t big government stomping on anything. This was a local community protecting their finite resources against a conglomerate beast only concerned with it’s own bottom line. This was real people standing firm for their own future.
So the corporate interests went and did the next best thing. They went and hired actors to play the part of protesters. They took to social media to find them as you can see here;
It’s sold as a “shoot.” But the shoot is for a movie or show that doesn’t exist. The only thing happening at the location the protesters are told to be at is the water management meeting. It would have been a great plan if they weren’t caught. After all, it’s easy to tell an actor that you are paying to “stay in character” no matter what. That’s what actors do, especially when you pay them. And there you have it – instant manufactured outrage.
Here’s one of the actors who were paid to protest;
To be clear, no one is blaming or holding anything against the “hired help” here. These actors were used and abused by the interests that hired them. Estimates say that about 50-60 protesters showed up. At 75 dollars a head. That means that a multi billion dollar corporation can stage this protest for a mere 4 to 5 thousand. Pocket change to a lot of businesses. Very sad and unfortunate.
And they would have gotten away with it to if it weren’t for those “meddling kids” in the media.
Progress Florida’s Mark Ferrulo described the stunt this way:
“Big Sugar supporters hiring actors to pretend to protest is pathetic.”
Sarah Bascom representing Support the EAA Reservoir Project Coalition, scoffed at the incident in a written statement:
“This is absolutely ridiculous and, quite frankly, embarrassing for these two groups to have hired paid actors to pose as protesters who ultimately had no idea what they were there to oppose. Our efforts to encourage buying the land owned by U.S. Sugar to build a badly-needed reservoir and send water south have been above board and transparent from day one. It is bad enough to have these last-minute groups pop up without any accountability on who they really are being funded by – but now, we have actors posing as concerned Floridians. If they could not find 50 people who were truly and genuinely concerned about the future of Florida’s drinking water and how best to spend funds from Amendment 1, we could have gladly helped them with crowd development.”
Ridiculous – emabrrassing – pathetic. Pretty much sums it up. But this is hardly the only time this has been done by conservative and corporate interests. And they will get away with it if the ‘kids” don’t keep meddling and shining bright lights into their purposeful shadows.
Here’s more commentary on the fake protest from the Young Turks: