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    Members of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S

    When PR and Marketing Get Gory: Paid Rioting Gains Momentum in US Politics

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    Paid protesters are not a new phenomenon in domestic US politics; however, after things turned ugly in Charlottesville over the last weekend, the practice of hiring a political crowd as if it were a movie scene is becoming increasingly questionable.

    Kristian Rouz Multiple signs of “professional protesters” appearing at political events and rallies throughout the US have been reported in recent months, with companies specializing in hiring personnel for movie crowd scenes entering the US politics. Cases of paid protesters appearing in the streets of the US have intensified recently, especially on the left side of the political spectrum –protesting US President Donald Trump’s policies has allegedly become a lucrative trade.

    The recent outbreak of violence and civil unrest in Virginia and North Carolina, which resulted both in deadly clashes between far-right and left-wing extremists (Charlottesville, VA), or damages to public property and disruptions in transport infrastructure (Durham, NC), have brought into the spotlight the issue of what motivates protesters to participate.

    On Monday, 7 August, an ad was posted on Craigslist, Charlotte, NC, hiring people at a $25 per hour rate for what some commentators assert was participation in mass protests, as inferred from the text of the posting. The ad directly asks whether the applicants are “ok with participating in peaceful protests”, and emphasizes the need for “actors” and “photographers”, suggesting that a certain orchestrated event would need to be converted into digital content in order to create a certain media narrative.

    The company identified itself as Crowds on Demand. Based in Los Angeles, the company directly says on its website, in the “Protests and Rallies” section: “We also assist individuals, companies and political organizations with protests and picketing campaigns. We’ve protested governments, corporations and everything in between.”

    Charlotte, NC is very close to the city of Durham, where an angry left-wing mob recently vandalized a monument to Confederate soldiers, who, according to US law, are honored as veterans of the US army. The city of Charlotte is also not far from Charlottesville, VA, where deadly clashes happened over the weekend. The local media recently reported that tensions are rising in the region over the Confederate legacy, which has been turned into a political tool of the left-wing globalist anti-Trump narrative.

    This is not the first time that Crowds on Demand has drawn media attention to its involvement in political activities. It is also not the only company in the market. Enterprises such as Crowds for Rent and Extra Mile Casting offer similar services. The latter was at some point before 2015 hired by Donald Trump, reports say, to provide cheerful support for his cause.

    However, buying fake enthusiasm for promo events, or hiring crowds for movie mob scenes is considered a normal business practice in PR, marketing and the film industry. Problems arise when paid protests get fueled up by left-wing chanting and exaltation.

    According to some reports, left-wing groups have been financing anti-Trump protests ever since he was elected in November. The American left firmly links Trump to everything right-wing, even though it might not necessarily be the case. For instance, the leftist “counter-protesters” who clashed with right-wing activists who demanded that Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee monument be left alone, were also explicitly anti-Trump. 

    The Progress Unity Fund is among the leftist organizations known to raise money and finance protests for the left-wing cause. Such organizations are generally committed to non-violence; however, their role in what happens in the streets is quite limited. When violence erupts on the scene, staffing company values do not seem to matter.

    "Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety," Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) says.

    The notion of orchestrated political campaigns exposes another, and quite very sad, issue. The political narratives on both ends of the political spectrum are easily converted into money through the media, including social media, agitation and excitement, misinterpreting the information and general disinformation.

    The information warfare is rife when the fate of political and economic reforms is at stake. The Trump administration appears to be an icebreaker committed to ending the high-level political corruption, bureaucracy, economic mismanagement and corporate political governance. The stiff resistance to the White House agenda, wrapped into the colorful package of left-wing ideals, is easily understandable when so many special interests and trillions of dollars are involved.


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