Several hundred people marched and chanted and held aloft all kinds of signs Saturday at a protest centered on the not-so-exciting topic of taxes – specifically, the tax returns Donald Trump once promised he would make public.
With Tuesday’s tax deadline looming and with the specter of a White House that’s either floundering or thriving, protesters at Southside Park in downtown Sacramento and in numerous cities throughout the deeply divided nation came out in droves to renew the call for the president to release his taxes.
A large banner held by marchers read, “What are you hiding?” Other signs were not so polite. Some placards called the president a liar; others suggested all kinds of nefarious connections to Russia.
Moments before the event convened at 11:30 a.m., Marilyn Banks of Lincoln found herself hopeful the White House would finally get the message that this issue wasn’t going away. She’s all but certain those mysterious returns will show plenty of wrongdoing.
“I want to see where his money is going. I want to see who he owes money to,” she said.
Throughout the park, many folks attending the peaceful march, which traveled to the state Capitol, said they have endured the early days of the Trump presidency with a mix of anger and dismay, but many also said they were emboldened by a growing sense of unity among those speaking out in opposition to the new White House.
Holding a sign that called Trump the “Wizard of mass distraction,” Melissa Andrews said, “I’m 70 years old. I did this 40, 50 years ago (and) never thought I’d do it again, but you just never know. For me, protecting the beliefs that I have, the country that I want to love, you’ve got to show up, you’ve got to stand up, you’ve got to express your issues, your concerns, your beliefs, otherwise it’s lost.”
Looking around at the gathering crowd, she added, “Part of it is just showing up in numbers. Keep showing up. Keep expressing concerns.”
As for those taxes, it’s well-known that every presidential candidate since Richard Nixon has released his or her tax returns, even if they revealed some controversial details. Mitt Romney had offshore holdings in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven for the wealthy, and paid taxes at a lower rate than the typical middle-class wage earner; Hillary Clinton made tens of millions by giving speeches to Wall Street power brokers behind closed doors, the contents of which she refused to make public.
On a sunny, breezy Saturday, marchers in the park said the issue moving forward comes down to transparency and honesty.
“Release your tax returns. That will let us know who you owe money to,” said Vicky Vail of Placerville. “My God, is it Russia? Is it China? Is it big corporate America?”
Asked why Trump won’t show his returns, Vail was far from the only one in Southside Park to suggest conspiracies, conflicts and worse.
“I think because he has some pretty shady deals. Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he was, but that’s not my concern,” she said. “I think he is probably beholden to a lot of folks and I think we should know that and it should show up in his tax returns.”