Report and analysis from Chicago about an ongoing campaign against a Fortune 500 company with a massive contract to help streamline the hiring of ICE agents.
Our affinity group was coming up with targets to focus on for upcoming actions against ICE and CBP and we noticed the work being done by Google employees against the Pentagon contract and the Microsoft employees pressuring management to stop working with ICE in its #notechforICE campaign.
We were inspired by this organizing work, and sought to apply similar but new methods into targeting the corporations profiting from the detention and deportation of immigrants. We heard about Accenture, and decided that this powerful capital actor could be toppled and affect the entire supply chain of new employees that the US Customs and Border Patrol will use to harm immigrants.
Accenture, a publicly traded global management consulting and professional services firm initiated a five year $297 million contract with Border Patrol to help them hire 7,500 new agents this past November. Accenture will be responsible for hand-holding new agents into completing their applications, showing up for drug tests, and passing the required exams. The process to become a Customs and Border Patrol Agent usually takes 300 days. Most applicants never finish their applications.
Border Patrol hired Accenture to help resolve their hiring woes and to market potential recruits as well as assist in training. Despite decreased migration across the U.S-Mexico Border, Trump’s executive orders pushed for a hiring spree in the expansion of the surveillance state across the border. There are countless reports about the cruelty and abuse perpetuated during detention and deportations under state control, so we thought it would be great to target CBP in this upcoming action and affect their hiring process.
Our affinity group does not have the near-infinite resources of the state or multinational corporations like Accenture, but asymmetric warfare relies on this imbalance. Heavyweights like Accenture rely on operating in the shadows. In our experiences talking to people on the street about the role of global tech firms that have enabled detention, deportation, and human rights violations, most have never heard of Accenture.
Our attack started with visibility.
Accenture’s survival relies on sitting back in the shadows and operating without much attention or controversy. We have seen how internal controversy can be devastating to corporations like the back-to-back revelations about Uber.
We first sought to educate.
Our first action was a teach in, banner drop, and propaganda distribution operation staged in front of the offices of Accenture at 161 North Clark Street in Chicago. We handed out fliers about how Accenture has contributed to the process by which immigrants seeking asylum in the United States are being detained, deported, and ultimately sent back to their deaths by Border Patrol.
One comrade continued the operations inside the Accenture office buildings and distributed propaganda to people in the elevators, dropped fliers onto the floors of Accenture, and handed them to workers inside the building by dressing the part and entering the elevator system during lunch time covertly.
We handed out over 500 fliers in a three hour time span and engaged in genuine discussions with several pedestrians, Accenture workers, and interns. By giving the corporation a name and a face through our written and spoken word, we could then give it an identity in the minds of the public.
In warfare it is necessary to understand the enemy and yourself. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu states that if you know both, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know only yourself, you may win or lose. If you know neither, you will always put yourself in danger. We understood that in that moment we did not have the capacity to occupy the street in front of the Federal ICE building in downtown nor did we have the capacity to fight Accenture head on with an occupation or some similar tactic in their building. With the principles of asymmetry in mind, however, we sought to bring more people into this struggle and escalate the conflict through nontraditional tactics.
Our second action was a noise demonstration in front of Accenture, which garnered local news media attention. This time, we continued to distribute our pamphlets outlining Accenture’s complicity and profiteering from these racist and xenophobic deportation & detention policies. We also sought to include others in the demonstration by making noise, and generally making it unpleasant for capitalists anywhere near the Accenture building to enjoy their commute home.
As rush hour approached and peak traffic started to form, we decided it was time to be opportunistic and spontaneous. With traffic soaring in the area, we took the street and saw it as a highly visible time to do a banner drop and expose Accenture to several hundred people on the street, including some who were live streaming our messaging on social media. Univision was starting to broadcast live at 5 P.M., so we quickly made collective consensus to take the street. Drivers were infuriated and fascinated.
By taking the street in a sporadic and highly visible way, we garnered quick and spontaneous attention of the media, everyone traveling home, and people following on social media. We waged a bet that the police would not be able to reach the street for several minutes because of the critical intersection we took and our bet paid off. During recon before the first action, we had scoped the intersection of Clark & Randolph as highly susceptible to traffic interruption. The police were nowhere in sight as traffic continued to pile on. Thus, our second tactic was to spontaneously pick at weak infrastructure and response time.
By the time the police could show up, cars were backed up for blocks ahead and our sporadic takeover was nearly over. We escalated the conflict and caught the attention of Accenture security, the cops, and the media by surprise by working spontaneously. There were only ten of us. By the time the cops showed up, we scattered and there was nothing they could do about it.
The final takeaways we took from these two actions are that building solidarity with allies inside the building could result in heightening the conflict even further. Several Accenture employees came up to us and thanked us for the work we were doing and stated that the office has been following our actions and wishes they could participate. Moving forward, we find it advantageous in our future battles that we build relationships with the workers in order to bring the battle into the building.
Often corporations live under a facade of remaining unknown and quiet. When we muckrake, disrupt these operations at weak infrastructure points, capture the attention and control the messaging of the media, build solidarity with workers on the inside and heighten the conflict with unpredictability, we can and will subvert the intentions of multinational corporations.
We as abolitionists will continue to escalate the conflict with Accenture. Our next action will be a public callin to the offices of Accenture to drop the contract.