The demonstrations were among the largest since the Women’s March.
WASHINGTON ― Tens of thousands of activists demonstrated in cities across the country on Saturday ― the date when Americans’ taxes are normally due ― to demand the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The largest marches took place in New York City and Washington, D.C. Some 100 other cities hosted smaller marches.
Protest organizers estimated that over 25,000 people attended the rally in Washington, D.C., and 20,000 people participated in New York City.Together, the rallies across the country were among the largest anti-Trump demonstrations since the Women’s March drew millions of people into the streets on Jan. 21.
“Trump says only the media cares about this taxes. Today, we’ve proved him wrong. It’s time for Trump to come clean, so we know who he’s really working for,” said Working Families Party national membership director Nelini Stamp, a keynote speaker at the New York City, in a statement following the march.
In Washington, D.C., the march began with a rally at the U.S. Capitol followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the Internal Revenue Service headquarters and the Trump International Hotel ― where protesters chanted “shame” in unison. The rally at times played the role of an all-purpose demonstration against Trump, replete with derisive condemnations of the president ― including references to alleged collusion of staff members from his presidential campaign with the Russian government.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, gave one of the most impassioned speeches at the U.S. Capitol. Waters, who has become a leading voice of opposition to Trump, vowed to impeach the president for his “contemptible” actions, as she led the crowd in a chant of “impeach 45.”
“I have laryngitis. But the only way I would not have been here with you today is if they cut my throat and stopped me from talking,” she declared. “If he thinks he can get away with playing king, he’s got another thing coming!”
— Trump Tax March (@taxmarch) April 15, 2017
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, declared during his speech, “We are taking the gloves off to say knock off the secrecy Mr. President and publicly release your own tax returns!”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) was another leading Democrat to address the D.C. crowd, along with several policy experts and progressive leaders.
The rallies also featured Donny the Tax March Chicken, an inflatable chicken made to resemble Trump. The gag is intended to mock Trump for being too “chicken” to reveal his tax returns.
Still an hour before the DC Tax March and people are lining up to take pics with Chicken Donny pic.twitter.com/scnO7xGFy5
— maura quint (@behindyourback) April 15, 2017
The march’s speakers were also calling for a fairer taxation system, which they argue is unfairly skewed to the advantage of wealthy people including Trump.
The progressive organizations and labor unions sponsoring the march include Indivisible, Americans for Tax Fairness, MoveOn.org, Public Citizen, Demos, Credo, the Working Families Party, the National Women’s Law Center and the American Federation of Teachers.
The coalition of liberal groups organized the “Tax March,” as they called it, to coincide with April 15, because it’s usually Tax Day ― the final day for individuals to submit their tax returns.
This year, individual tax returns are due on Tuesday, April 18, since April 15 is a Saturday and on Monday, federal government workers have the day off work for Emancipation Day, a Washington, D.C. holiday.
Trump is the first president in four decades who has not released his tax returns or comparable financial information. The practice became a tradition when former President Richard Nixon released his returns after he was audited.
In January, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted that Trump would never release his returns, arguing that his election proved that “people didn’t care” about it.
But Trump’s critics believe his refusal to disclose his tax returns is a sign that he has something to hide. Questions about his motives have led to speculation that they contain evidence of either major tax avoidance or financial ties to figures close to the Russian government.
The FBI confirmed in March that it is investigating Trump associates for their possible ties to Russia, raising the possibility that the president’s allies participated in the alleged Russian interference efforts in some capacity.