Chicago activists filled multiple buses to make the five hour drive to Detroit on Tuesday night to take part in the 99% Power and press General Electric to pay their taxes. Reportedly, at least 150 decided to participate including members of Action Now, Stand Up! Chicago, Arise Chicago and more.
“A drop of water can crack a rock,” said Deborah Robinson of Chicago. “So if enough of us participate, I believe we can crack the rock.”
One in five of the Fortune 500 companies received an average of a two percent tax rebate. As a symbol of American ingenuity and strength, GE stands as an example. But the reality today rests closer to the tax dodging corporation the protesters claim.
Elizabeth Parisian, a policy analyst for Stand Up! Chicago, told Progress Illinois the importance of Chicagoans getting out on the streets.
“Basically their tax dodging cost our state, for example, about $200 million in 2010 alone,” Parisian said. “With that money you can imagine all the different programs you could fund. We’ve got folks here fighting to keep mental health clinics open. It costs a million dollars a year to keep a mental health facility open, meanwhile G.E.’s getting billions of dollars back from the federal government.”
Activists from Pittsburgh, Boston, Milwaukee, Detroit and other cities joined the Chicago arrivals at Hart Plaza to march outside of the shareholders meeting on Wednesday morning. Together they comprised a strong showing of nearly 2,000 energetic and vocal protesters. Another 150 or so people were inside to question GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt, who also serves on President Barack Obama’s jobs council.
More from the protest:
Reverend C.J. Hawking of Arise Chicago was one of them. Soon after Immelt began speaking Hawking and other pastors demanded answers to GE’s participation in the global one percent’s ownership of our democracy. Security quickly escorted them out of the meeting.
If GE’s powerful lobbyists would no longer write the laws then GE would be forced to pay the actual marginal corporate tax rate. Instead, their tax dodging practices cost the State of Illinois $200 million in 2010. Nationally, GE spent more on lobbyists than they did on their tax bills from 2008-2010. The invoice at the end of the year read more than 84 million dollars! In addition they paid their top five executives three times more than that – totaling more than $230 million.
It is no wonder why Chicagoans were motivated to jump on a bus to protest.
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