From Sydney, Australia to Vancouver, Canada, activists are taking to the streets in cities around the world this week to hold the financial sector accountable for the costs of the global crisis.
A key demand: tiny levies on trades of stock, derivatives and currency that could help curb speculation and generate big money for good things, like job creation and fighting poverty.
In Washington, DC, thousands rallied on May 17, calling for such a “financial speculation tax” – as part of a broader financial reform agenda. Organized by the AFL-CIO, SEIU, National People’s Action, and Jobs with Justice, the rally took place on K Street, the office building corridor notorious for its high concentration of corporate and financial industry lobbyists. Under a steady cold rain, protestors in plastic ponchos struggled to juggle umbrellas in one hand and soggy placards in the other.
Their determination reflected the high level of anger over Wall Street’s continued excesses at a time when ordinary working families are still suffering from the crisis. Our video captures diverse perspectives on why financial speculation taxes are one piece of the solution.
Since the pending financial reform bill does not include financial speculation taxes, this will be a key piece of “unfinished business” after Congress concludes the current debate on Wall Street regulation.
In many of countries, coalitions have adopted Robin Hood imagery to emphasize how even miniscule levies on financial transactions could generate massive revenues for to fight poverty and other urgent needs. As you’ll see in the photos and videos below, this has kicked up good business for Robin Hood costume and horse rental businesses.
Dressed as Robin Hood, campaigners on May 19 marched across the Westminster Bridge in London to deliver giant mosaics of pictures of more than 3,400 supporters to new members of Parliament, urging them to make a Robin Hood Tax one of their top legislative priorities. New Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is already a supporter. Let’s hope he can persuade his Conservative Party coalition partners. Activists in Scotland, carried out a similar action in Glasgow.
Fired up by recent supportive statements from their government leaders, Berlin activists performed a stunt in front of the Brandenburger Tor on May 19, aimed at a meeting in the city of several G-20 heads of state and finance ministers. In the video on their campaign site, Campaigners dressed as Robin Hood and merry people attacked a bankers’ carriage with big bags of money. An activist playing Robin Hood boarded the carriage and reloaded small bags of money out of the big ones and placed them into a bucket labelled Fight poverty, Finance development and protect the climate.
The Canadian campaign carried out events on May 19 in major cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Saskatoon, Ottawa and St. John’s. In Ottawa, activists staged a tug-of-war in front of the Parliament building that pitted bankers against “the people” (plus one polar bear), with G-20 leaders looking on. The activist team carried signs suggesting how revenues from the tax could contribute to financing different issues, including maternal health initiatives. The Canadian coalition has a big challenge ahead, as conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed to block progress on bank taxation at the G-20 leaders summit, which he will be hosting in Toronto in June.
On May 18, a new coalition of labor, environmental, and development groups received widespread media coverage when they launched a petition to G-20 leaders, asking for support of financial speculation taxes. The petition is available in multiple languages (including English) and citizens of the world are invited to lend their endorsements. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been one of the most vocal supporters of the global campaign.
The Australian coalition is planning a film/photo stunt with campaigners dressed as Robin Hood, shooting arrows at the campaign target in the Central Business District of Sydney today. More photos from the DC rally and actions in other countries are being pooled on this flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1381757@N25/