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Islanders protest with song at West Seattle Target

A musical protest video featuring Vashon singers, dancers and musicians has gained nationwide attention online.

On Saturday, Aug. 14, participants in the Backbone Campaign’s Localize This Artful Action Camp, which took place on a Vashon farm, held a flash-mob demonstration at a West Seattle Target. About 10 of the 40 participants were Island residents.

The flash mob was inspired by Target’s recent $150,000 donation to a political group that backs a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who opposes gay marriage. The controversial donation also triggered a boycott of Target, still under way.

Backbone Campaign director Bill Moyer said the project was a collaboration between the Localize This camp and the Island-based progressive media organization Agit-Pop Comm-unications. MoveOn.org sponsored the flash mob, which was filmed and edited by Agit-Pop.

The video, which was posted on YouTube and Yahoo, shows the group dancing and singing about Target’s decision in front shoppers. The song’s chorus asks, “Target ain’t people, so why should it be allowed to play around with our democracy?” As of Monday, the video had received more than 1.5 million views.

Moyer said he is pleased the video has gone viral and feels that the flash mob was a great experience for the emerging political activists who attended the camp.

“This was a great opportunity for us to use art to elevate the dialogue about the role of corporations and corporate money in our elections,” he said.

John Sellers, a founder of Agit-Pop, said the organization had been looking for an opportunity to draw attention to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled corporations can give unlimited donations to politicians and political groups.

“We were looking for opportunities to target the first corporate actors that would come out and use that ruling and new law to their advantage, and Target was the first to step out,” Sellers said.

When Agit-Pop, which organizes demonstrations across the nation, decided to flash-mob a Target, Sellers knew his hometown of Vashon could provide the talent to pull it off.

“When I wrote the song, envisioning the action in my head, I knew we had such an amazing array of artists on Vashon. … It was like a dream team, to work with all the folks who came together,” Sellers said.

Nick Simmons, who fronts the Island band The Diggers and was involved in the Target action, attributes the video’s online popularity to the compelling subject matter and the high-quality video editing that Agit-Pop provided.

Simmons hopes viewers will realize the video is meant to protest not only Target, but the Supreme Court ruling. “As far as corporations go, Target is actually a pretty good one,” he said.

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