Tax Day rallies pressure Trump to release returns
Protests nationwide tell president to ‘knock off secrecy’
WASHINGTON Hundreds of protesters streamed onto the Capitol lawn Saturday carrying signs demanding that President Donald Trump release his tax returns in one of more than 150 Tax Day rallies and marches nationwide.
The rallies were predominantly peaceful, but violence broke out between groups supporting and opposing the president in Berkeley, Calif., according to The Associated Press. At least 13 people were arrested.
About 200 people were at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park when several people started pushing each other, the AP reported. Officers in riot gear arrested one man and others were arrested as several fights broke out. Berkeley was the site of a March 4 confrontation involving several of the same groups that also led to arrests.
In Washington, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, tore into Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, highlighting legislation he’s sponsoring to require any U.S. president to release his returns annually.
“President Trump has tossed this great American tradition in the trash can like a teenager trying to hide a lousy report card,” Wyden told protesters.
Trump is the first U.S. president in modern history not to release his returns – every president since Richard Nixon has done so. Recent polling shows 74 percent of Americans want to see Trump’s returns.
“Knock off the secrecy, Mr. President, and publicly release your own tax returns,” Wyden said. “Disclosing tax returns is the very lowest ethical bar for a president and we are going to insist that he clear it.”
Ezra Levin, executive director of Indivisible, among the major protest groups that’s formed in the past few months, said the event was about more than just seeing someone’s 1040s.
“It’s about whether or not the president of the United States is acting in the interest of the American people or whether he’s lining his own pockets or serving another master,” Levin said. “Congress has the power to find out.”
A number of marchers drew parallels between Trump’s recent bomb strikes in Syria and against ISIS in Afghanistan. One protester carried a sign reading “1 Airstrike Doesn’t Erase Trump’s Lies and Russia Ties.” A few protesters wore Russia-themed hats.
“There’s a lot of dots connecting him to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, and I think his taxes would reveal the final dot,” said Leslie Thiel, 58, who drove from Jackson Springs, N.C. “It’s wag the dog all over again. It’s just trying to divert attention.”
Rallies also were scheduled in New York, Boston and San Francisco, among other locations. Activists in West Palm Beach, Fla., called theirs the “March a Lago,” near the resort where Trump is spending the Easter weekend.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., attended a rally in Chicago. “What you saw beginning the day after the inauguration has not let up,” Schakowsky said. “We’re talking about intensity. The only question any of us get now is: What can I do?”
The idea for the tax march grew out of the success of the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington that drew millions of people.
Dominic Lyon, a 25-year-old from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, said the tax march shows that “we’re going to continue to fight. The Founding Fathers made this country the way it is so that we can have voices.”
On a Facebook page for Tax Day marches, organizers said the events focus on government transparency, conflicts of interest and an unfair tax system. They called on supporters to show Trump “that he owes us transparency.”
“We’re marching around the country to ask Donald Trump: WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?” organizers said on their website. “We need a president who works for all Americans, and a tax system that does, too. Release your tax returns and commit to a fair tax system for the American people.”
While April 15 is normally Tax Day, this year the filing deadline is April 18 because of the weekend and a Monday holiday.
Hundreds of protesters take part Saturday in the Tax Day march in Washington.
In Berkeley, Calif., a man is sprayed with a chemical irritant amid fights between Trump supporters and critics.