Earlier this week, a large “Unite the Right” protest was held in Charlottesville, Virginia. Unfortunately, the rally was disrupted by a massive amount of counter-protesters. Apparently, it looks like some of them were paid actors found on Craigslist for $25 an hour.
According to reports, Crowds on Demand, a Public Relations firm based in Los Angeles, recently posted an advertisement on Craigslist asking people in North Carolina to reach out if they’re interested in being a paid actor or photographer. Specifically, the ad said, “Crowds on Demand, a Los Angeles-based Public Relations firm specializing in innovative events, is looking for enthusiastic actors and photographers in the Charlotte, NC area to participate in our events.”
To clarify, they added, “our events include everything from rallies to protests to corporate PR stunts to celebrity scenes. The biggest qualification is enthusiasm, a ‘can-do’ spirit. Pay will vary by event but typically is $25+ per hour plus reimbursements for gas/parking/Uber/public transit.”
However, Adam Swart, the CEO of Crowds on Demand, insisted that his organization was not involved in the event in any way. “We were not involved in any capacity with the recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those impacted by the violence,” stated Swart, without providing any more details.
Unfortunately, paying actors to participate in protests is not a new tactic. During the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline back in 2016, numerous Craiglist ads were posted for part-time and full-time paid protesters. One ad, for example, stated, “I will pay $1,000 cash to anyone who proves they quit their job to protest full time with me. I will also pay for travel and food as long as I can afford it for this [sic] people joining the long term fight.”
The ad also mentioned that people who show up for just the first night will also get paid. Specifically, it said, “as for everyone else who shows the first night I will pay $50 cash for adults and $20 for each child you bring. If you are a BLM or anti-Trump you will also get paid to join my protest. We need to body’s [sic]. Just tonight we shut down Veterans bridge. Get involved people save mother earth.”
Paid protesters were also believed to be involved in the “Anti-Trump Tax Day March” earlier this year. This is because many of the groups involved in organizing the event, such as the American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Tax Fairness, Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible Project, MoveOn.Org, Our Revolution, and The Working Families Party, have ties to George Soros, a far-left anti-Trump billionaire. The American Federation of Teachers’ Educational Foundation, which is the nonprofit arm of the American Federation of Teachers, for instance, have both received money from Soros’s Open Society Foundations.
Although it appears that there were indeed paid actors participating in the Charlottesville protests, it’s also important to note that several paid protesting rumors have turned out to be false. Back in 2016, a Paul Horner took credit for a “fake news” article about an anti-Trump protester being paid $3,500. “[Trump’s] followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything,” he told reporters, noting, “his campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.”
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson also exposed a fake paid protesting rumor. Specifically, he confronted the creator of a fake website about its claim that it was professional protestors to be on retainer. “On your website, you claim that you pay a retainer to 1,817 operatives every month. Now, if that were actually true, that’s $54 million a year you’re spending just on retainers. It’s over $30 million a year if you’re paying them for six hours a week work. That’s demonstrably — you’re not doing that,” Carlson noted.
He then asked, “is this an effort to discredit the protesters at the Trump inauguration? Is it an effort to convince conservative news organizations to pick up the story and therefore highlight their gullibility?”
In response, the website’s creator, who told Carlson his name was Dom Tullipso, said, “I mean, it’s pretty darn easy these days to just say whatever the heck you want on national TV and have it pass off as truth.” He added, “and, you know, it’s pretty — I don’t know, just pretty incredible to me how easy it was to get the coverage we got.”
While it may be possible that the ad looking for paid protesters is fake, there’s currently no reason to believe so. It’s much more likely that people on the left gave people money to show up in Charlottesville.