Paid protesters? They're real — and a Beverly Hills firm that hires them stands accused of extortion in a lawsuit
Paid protesters are a real thing.
Crowds on Demand, a Beverly Hills firm that’s an outspoken player in the business of hiring protesters, boasts on its website that it provides its clients with “protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts.… We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas.”
The company has hired actors to lobby the New Orleans City Council on behalf of a power plant operator, protest a Masons convention in San Francisco and act like supportive fans and paparazzi at an L.A. conference for life coaches.
But according to a lawsuit filed by a Czech investor, Crowds on Demand also takes on more sordid assignments. Zdenek Bakala claims the firm has been used to run an extortion campaign against him.
Bakala has accused Prague investment manager Pavol Krupa of hiring Crowds on Demand to pay protesters to march near his home in Hilton Head, S.C., and to call and send emails to the Aspen Institute and Dartmouth College, where Bakala serves on advisory boards, urging them to cut ties to him. Bakala alleges that Krupa has threatened to continue and expand the campaign unless Bakala pays him $23 million.
Los Angeles Times