Corporate Critics Go Direct

If you want to beat them, join them. That's the basic approach of pressure groups who buy shares in corporations to gain access to annual meetings. Once inside, however, the tactics vary, from the typical -- venting anger and asking awkward questions -- to the creative and sometimes bizarre.At the recent meeting of the British bank Lloyds, for example, protesters demanding debt reduction for developing nations stripped naked to reveal slogans on their bodies. Another group, protesting the arms trade, parked a tank outside a shareholders meeting while one person gained entrance dressed as a pink panther. At other direct actions, demonstrators have rushed stages and handcuffed themselves to microphones.In Britain, the big companies targeted this year include Shell, Rio Tinto Zinz (RTZ), British Aerospace, Lloyds, and the Midland bank. Due to its mining activities in Madagascar and Indonesia, RTZ's May annual meeting was overrun by groups including Friends of the Earth, Survival International, and the World Development Movement.Although most corporate infiltrators harbor little hope of influencing decisions, protests sometimes do lead to private talks or damaging publicity. However, confrontations can also turn nasty. When RTZ protester Phil Rule took his chance to speak out, he recalls, "I got right in front of the chairman and shouted, 'You murdering bastard!' Then about five security guards dragged me away and shoved my head through a partition wall.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.