Apple Foxconn petition maker Mark Shields a D.C.-based professional activist

“Apple fans were seething. In January, they heard actor Mike Daisey describe during a radio broadcast the intolerable working conditions he witnessed at Chinese factories where iPads and iPhones are assembled. Many found their way to an online petition started at Change.org by a man named Mark Shields,” Greg Sandoval reports for CNET. “The petition demanded Apple improve safety at these facilities, and it would eventually include 256,000 names.”
“At first, the petition appeared to have simply bubbled up from an outraged public,” Sandoval reports. “Not quite. Apple fan or not, the 36-year-old Shields is a professional advocate and activist. The public-relations firm that has employed him for nearly two years, Washington D.C.-based Spitfire Strategies, organizes demonstrations and protests for a fee much like the one Shields waged against Apple. Though there is no evidence that Shields was anything but sincere in his petition drive, and there is no evidence that he was paid for it, that he does such things professionally received scant attention at the time. Anti-Apple protests have become commonplace in recent months. But with every protest there appears questions. Daisey, of course, was discredited a month ago for his embellishments.”

Sandoval reports, “Indeed, though there is no indication Spitfire was formally linked to Shields’ petition, professional activism that’s supposed to look spontaneous is one of Spitfire’s strategies. ‘This guide is designed to work best with policy campaigns, issue campaigns, corporate campaigns and public education campaigns,’ Kristen Grimm, Spitfire’s founder and Shields’ boss, wrote in a 2006 strategy playbook for clients. ‘If you are looking to pass a law, win popular support for an issue, organize a boycott or let a bunch of people know that something is bad for them, this guide is for you.’ In another of her publications, Grimm wrote: ‘Remember, not all campaigns are big, splashy public affairs. Sometimes your goals are best served by keeping your campaign behind the scenes.’”

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