BY: JULIE SHAW
Protesters chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, corporate greed has got to go” marched in Center City on Saturday, calling for President Trump to release his tax returns.
With a 10-foot inflatable chicken leading the march — perched on the bed of a gray Chevrolet pickup truck — a crowd estimated by a police inspector at 2,000 peacefully marched down Market Street from City Hall to Independence Mall.
To the sounds of drums beating and tambourines clashing, the protesters chanted along with march leader Devan Spear, 21, a University of Pennsylvania senior and an organizer with the Penn Student Labor Action Project, as she yelled into a microphone, “Donald, show us what you paid!” and “No more secrets, no more lies! Show your taxes, show your ties!”
The Tax March Philly rally was one of about 150 planned nationwide for April 15, which is traditionally Tax Day. (This year, though, Tax Day has been pushed back to April 18 as the deadline for the filing of taxes.)
Gwen Snyder, executive director of Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, which organized the march, has said the chicken symbolizes that Trump is “chicken” for not releasing his income tax returns.
The chicken, made in China, is a replica of a giant rooster statue that resembled Trump and was made to celebrate the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar. The rooster was such a hit that the Chinese manufacturer then created inflatable “Trump chicken” replicas, the New York Times has reported.
Participants in Saturday’s march first gathered at 10 a.m. at Thomas Paine Plaza, across from City Hall, where many held signs calling for the president to release his returns.
Ralliers also called for economic justice and decried corporate greed. Nijmie Dzurinko, of the health care-oriented group Put People First!, who gave opening remarks, told those gathered at Thomas Paine Plaza: “People are angry that billionaires are mooching off the system.”
Marchers then headed with a police escort around City Hall, then down Market Streettoward People’s Plaza, at Fifth and Market Streets on Independence Mall, where more speakers rallied the crowd.
They included State Sen. Daylin Leach; civil rights lawyer Larry Krasner, a candidate in the Philadelphia district attorney’s race; and the Rev. Gregory Holston, executive director of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild, or POWER.
Trump is the first presidential nominee of a major party in more than 40 years to not release his tax returns, saying he cannot release the documents because he is under IRS audit. He and his staffers have later said that voters don’t care, but several national polls have shown otherwise.
“People care about the taxes,” Holston, in a roaring voice, told the crowd gathered on Independence Mall. To much applause, he called on Trump to “release your taxes right now … because I need to know whether you paid any taxes or not.”
“Presidents owe us the highest level of transparency,” said Leach, a Democrat who represents parts of Montgomery and Delaware Counties. He has introduced Senate Bill 247, which calls for mandatory disclosure of federal tax returns by a candidate running for president or vice president of the United States. Otherwise, the bill says, that person’s name will not be printed on official ballots in Pennsylvania.
Other states where legislation on tax-return disclosure has been introduced include New Jersey, New York, Arizona, California, Connecticut, and Maryland.
Krasner, echoing themes in his campaign for district attorney, called for the end of the death penalty, mass incarceration, and cash bail. Before he spoke, Snyder told the crowd that Philadelphia Jobs With Justice was not endorsing any one candidate in the DA’s race.
The march brought out colorful costumes and clever signs. Zachary Maichuk, 40, of Lansdale, dressed up as a Tyrannosaurus rex, with a “T-Rump T-Rexes Want to see your taxes” sign; and another person held up a tall Trump clown.
Earlier, at the start of the rally across from City Hall, Donna Davis, 50, of Northeast Philadelphia, held a sign with a drawing of the Trump chicken. “I don’t trust Trump to tell the truth,” she said.
Her friend Dorothy Maurer, 49, of King of Prussia, added: “I believe he’s flat-out lying to us and he’s hiding something in his taxes, and the American people need to see it.”
Her orange sign read: “I SHOWED YOU MINE NOW YOU SHOW ME YOURS!”
See tweets from the Philadelphia event:
This article contains information from the Associated Press.