March 15, 2009 10:44 PM   Subscribe

I want to take to the streets to protest the $1.2 Billion dollars that AIG has announced it will pay in executive bonuses. How do I do this?

The AIG CEO claims he is contractually obligated to pay these bonuses. I want show them that this bonus-paying shatters the social contract implicit in accepting a taxpayer funded bailout.

There are AIG offices in Boulder, CO, as there are in most other reasonably sized cities. Does it make sense to picket and shout outside one of these offices. Will anybody join me? How are street protests usually organized? Is anybody currently organizing local or national street protests of the AIG bonuses?
posted by u2604ab to Law & Government (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you wanted to start your own protest, you'd first want to see if you need any permits from the city. And then you could organise people there in a style similar to organising a flash mob, although the key is to keep them there for a bit longer than the typical flash mob stays.

If all of that sounds like too much work, I'm sure that someone in your local university is planning something. Get the inner-city counter-culture free newspapers to read for any announcements, or walk around your local uni to see if anyone has put up any flyers. Then join the crowd.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:54 PM on March 15, 2009

Well, I'm not sure. If I were you I would try setting up a "single serving" website, and maybe use to setup a group and possibly create a facebook event as well. You could also try posting it to lots of political blogs (use diary features on sites like dailykos and talkingpoints memo) and hope it 'goes viral'.

For the website, register something like or (available!) something that's easy to remember and type.

That's kind of how the origional TARP protests seem to have started. I don't have any actual experience in this kind of thing, but I think it's a great idea.
posted by delmoi at 10:54 PM on March 15, 2009

Where do you get $1.2B from? Everything I've seen, and just double-checked, mentioned $165 million and that's due to contractual obligations. I know this doesn't answer the question, but those sums are a big difference.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 11:06 PM on March 15, 2009

According to Sunday's Wall Street Journal, $450 million will go to executives at the AIG's financial products division alone:
Those payments are in addition to $121.5 million in incentive bonuses for 2008 that AIG will start making this month to about 6,400 of its roughly 116,000 employees. AIG is also making over $600 million in retention payments to over 4,000 employees.

Together, the three programs could result in roughly $1.2 billion in retention and bonus payments to AIG employees.
posted by Knappster at 11:17 PM on March 15, 2009

Will anyone join you? Personally, I think you're asking drowning people to go for a swim. But what the heck, it may be worth a shot. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

One of the main problems I've seen with protest is lack of exposure. You need to be visible. One group of 100 people really isn't going to make a huge impact. 25 groups of 4 people can give your cause a larger profile.

Organize people to stand on busy street corners in groups of three or four with large signs directing the thousands of motorists who stop for the lights.... to an easy to remember website. It would be better if it was one main city road... Every corner for a few miles.... a group working the corners just like the people who sell M & Ms for charity. Picture yourself driving down that road. Every stop light corner for miles, you see groups of people protesting. Me, I'd have some bear suits or Flaming Lips type exploits. People like to be entertained. Stay away from negativity and try to be the fun group to participate in. You can't go wrong with stilts.

Realize that you're going to be looked at like a bunch of nut cases.... but so were the founding fathers. Hell, they wore powdered freaking wigs for gods sake.

Sign ideas? "Mad about AIG? Go to" (yes, the domain is available... um...right now that is.....) Keep your message short and simple. Have fliers to hand to people with the domain name info. You may want to register as a nonprofit.

The trick is to try and saturate every corner of an area of a city. One long stretch of a main road or maybe on a cluster of corners in the financial district.

Have a donation button on said site. Use the cash to recruit more members. Call yourself Everycorner ( is available... um.. once again... right now).

Have fun.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 11:21 PM on March 15, 2009

I think the every corner idea kind of dumb. I think almost everyone is opposed to the AIG bailout so I don't see why you would be looked at like a bunch of nutcases.
posted by delmoi at 1:35 AM on March 16, 2009

If you stand outside AIG's offices with a 'Honk if you hate bailouts for thieves' or suchlike I'm sure you'd be able to generate some noise.
posted by PenDevil at 1:59 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of the funniest segments of Wonder Showzen was titled "Who Did you Exploit Today?" and involved a young (grade school) black girl accosting businessmen on Wall Street and asking them who they had exploited that day.

A similar simple, loaded question tailored to AIG employees could be fun, especially if you can't gather a big crowd. Film the responses and post them on youtube for instant win.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 2:06 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Picketing at an AIG regional office? You're targeting people who (a) have absolutely no decisionmaking power over what you're protesting and (b) probably already agree with you.

This is the government's clusterfuck. Channel the collective anger at the Treasury Department. Ask their lawyers what would happen in the "real world" if someone closed a $165 billion cash acquisition without bothering to do any due diligence.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:06 AM on March 16, 2009

some people are already trying to plan demonstrations, you aren't alone:
posted by geos at 5:37 AM on March 16, 2009 Here is a link to their "Contact Us" page. I wrote a nice letter to them. I encourage everyone else to! Also if they want to do this crap I say we never use AIG for anything ever again! Complete boycott.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:35 AM on March 16, 2009

unless you want to make a fool out of yourself I'd suggest you'd research their arguments first. a good starting point would be to actually learn what these bonuses are and why bankers consider them so important. or contractual law. or just who gets them, how low they go. you might be surprised and you might also do better if a half-decent pr guy ends up inviting you to a discussion.

the problem with most protesters regardless of their respective causes is that they fail to do basic research before they get all huffing and puffing. oiled muscles and misplaced bravado.

you want to be a force for good? volunteer.
posted by krautland at 6:42 AM on March 16, 2009

Are you just trying to express your emotions (fine with me, but ultimately pointless) or are you trying to stop the payment of the bonuses (a legal issue if contracts are involved)?
posted by dzot at 6:50 AM on March 16, 2009

MoveOn has a petition you can sign against these bailouts.

unless you want to make a fool out of yourself I'd suggest you'd research their arguments first. a good starting point would be to actually learn what these bonuses

Even Tim Geithner and Larry Summers say the bonuses are bad but they don't have balls to do anything about it.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2009

Why don't I hear the words "lynch mob" as often as I would like?
posted by jefficator at 9:49 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Even Tim Geithner and Larry Summers say the bonuses are bad
and so do I but I know the meaning of words like contract, damages and lawsuit.

employer owes me cash, doesn't pay? yeah, that's gonna be a mistake. I don't care if it's about dockworkers, secretaries or bankers.
posted by krautland at 9:52 AM on March 16, 2009

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