Tax Day protests demand Trump release returns

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Detroit — About 400 chanting, sign-carrying demonstrators gathered downtown Saturday as part of nationwide Tax Day marches to focus on inequities in taxes paid by the wealthy, including President Donald Trump

Demonstrators walk along East Jefferson on Saturday of nationwide Tax Day marches to focus on inequities in taxes paid by the wealthy, including President Donald Trump.

The Detroit rally, which began in front of the Internal Revenue Service offices on Woodward Avenue and later included speeches at Hart Plaza, was one of 150 nationally, including several across Michigan, according to Marguerite "Sunny" Johnson, a spokesperson for Indivisible Non Partisan District 9.

"We are an ally activist group, standing alongside and in defense of marginalized groups and entities under attack nationally, statewide, and locally," Johnson said.

One purpose of the Detroit event, Johnson said, was to draw attention to Trump's refusal to release his tax returns. Dozens of people carried homemade, handwritten signs like "Donald Ducks Releasing His Taxes"; "Donald War Bucks" and "You Work for Us."

Trump is the first major party nominee in more than 40 years not to release his tax returns, saying it was because he was under audit. He later said that voters don’t care.

"I've never done anything like this before," said Johnson, who is employed as a strategist for a chemical company. "By failing to release his returns he (Trump) has violated two of our nation's most fundamental values — transparency and accountability.

Similar Michigan tax marches were held in Ann Arbor, Farmington, Hamtramck , Grand Rapids, Pentwater and Marquette.

An injured man takes a video as multiple fights continue to break out between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters in Berkeley, California on April 15, 2017.

Police in Berkeley, California, say 13 people have been arrested and knives and makeshift weapons confiscated after violence erupted at a park where factions that support and oppose President Donald Trump gathered for Tax Day rallies.

About 200 people were at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park for separate rallies Saturday when pushing began. Dozens of police officers in riot gear standing nearby quickly arrested one man. Others were taken into custody as fistfights broke out.

Police say demonstrators have left the park but are blocking several streets in the city’s center.

Officials say officers have confiscated knives, flagpoles, helmets and sticks with signs on them, things that were being used as weapons.

Photographs of the scene published online show at least two men with bloodied faces.

Protestors take part in the "Tax March" to call on US President Donald Trump to release his tax records in Los Angeles, California on April 15, 2017.

In Washington, D.C., march began with a rally at the U.S. Capitol, where Sen. Ron Wyden called on Trump to ‘knock off the secrecy.” The Oregon Democrat says the people have “a basic right to know whether the president pays his fair share.”

For four decades, presidents and major party nominees have released some of their tax returns, with the exception of Gerald Ford. Trump’s break with precedent has raised questions about possible conflicts of interest.

Fortune magazine has estimated Trump's worth at $3.9 billion, up from $3.7 billion in 2015. Trump is believed the first president in 40 years not to voluntarily release his tax records. Last month after some of his 2005 taxes were leaked to the media, Trump disclosed he paid $38 million on $150 million that year.

Trump, who had declined to a full disclosure of his tax records, initially explained his refusal was because he was under audit and later said the public doesn't care about his taxes.

Participants at Detroit's demonstration said they felt they were part of a "grassroots democracy" expressing their displeasure, particularly regarding Trump.

Tim and Joann Bailey from Livonia said they participated because they are unhappy with Trump's administration.

"I really don't like what is going on (in Washington)," said Tim Bailey, who said he would otherwise have spent his Saturday teaching youth how to repair bicycles.

Rose Desloover of Farmington Hills said she felt it was important to be part of a public voice.

"I pay my taxes and think he should reveal them and what his ties are," said Desloover, who was part of an estimated 10,000 people who participated in the Women's March earlier this year in Lansing. "I think there is too much power concentrated without any transparency."

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Associated Press contributed to this report.