This Saturday, April 15, two marches will wind their way through downtown Seattle: BlackLivesMatter 2.0 and Tax March Seattle, an official sister march to the Tax March movement. Both demonstrations call for Trump to release his tax returns, and both call for the country to adopt more progressive tax structures.
But why two separate marches? And which kind of hat should you bring?!
In the early planning stages, Tax March Seattle organizer Cody Herring and Black Lives Matter / Black Liberation Front Seattle organizer Mohawk Kuzma were working together to create one giant march, but Kuzma pulled out of negotiations “for integrity reasons and ethics,” he says.
Kuzma claims Ali Lee, a Tax March organizer who had been in charge of “permitting, logistics, and safety” for Seattle Womxn’s March back in January, told him she applied for permits at Westlake and Westlake Balcony, but then he discovered she had not.
Lee says she couldn’t apply for the permits when Kuzma wanted her to because he and Herring hadn’t yet worked out an exact time for the event. Kuzma wanted to do a later thing, Herring wanted to do an earlier thing, neither of them budged, and so talks broke down.
They did agree to hold the marches at separate times, though, so Seattleites can chose to attend one or the other, or both, or brunch. Whatever you decide to do, just know that the Stranger will be watching.
Herring says he's encouraging people to go to both, and that many Tax March Seattle organizers plan to join the BLM 2.0 march. Lee says she wishes good luck and safe marching for all.
The larger demo by far in terms of local attendance, with 18,000 people listed as “going” on Facebook, is the BLM 2.0 March. The tentative schedule includes a dance party from 1 to 2 p.m., a rally from 2 to 3 p.m. at Westlake Center, a march along a TBD route from 3 to 4:15 p.m., and another rally at the court house from 4:15 to 6 p.m. Kuzma says there may be food trucks.
Substantively, in addition to demanding that Trump release his tax returns, the march seeks to raise awareness of the unfair tax burden placed on low-income Americans, who are disproportionally black and hispanic. Citing a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Elaine S. Povich at Pew reports, “the nationwide average effective state and local tax rates by income group are 10.9 percent for the poorest 20 percent, 9.4 percent for the middle 20 percent and 5.4 percent for the top 1 percent."
Washington state has one of the most regressive tax structures in the country. Citing that same study, the Seattle Times' Jon Talton writes: "Poor residents [in Washington] pay 16.8 percent of family income in state and local taxes while the wealthiest 1 percent pay only 2.4 percent."
Kuzma says the BLM 2.0 March's aims align with BLM's economic justice platform, which calls for “a progressive restructuring of tax codes at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth.” In order to offset heavy sales and property taxes at the state and local levels, they propose a number of corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy.
Okay okay okay, but, what kind of hat should you wear? Kuzma is asking for people to wear black beanies in solidarity.
Despite my very strongly worded suggestion, Cody Herring at the Tax March is not asking for demonstrators to wear green eyeshades like old time-y accountants. Huge mistake. But there will be a 13-foot tall, inflatable, golden-haired Trump chicken, which is shaping up to be the unofficial mascot of the national Tax March.
Breaking: We met our 1st fundraising goal: Trump Chicken has hatched! See it live: Sat. 4/15, 10am, Federal Bldg #taxmarchseattle pic.twitter.com/fsGLki3pUr
— Tax March Seattle (@TaxMarchSeattle) April 11, 2017
As I mentioned earlier, Tax March Seattle is also calling for Trump to release his tax returns, but they specifically want to see them going back 20 years. In terms of local messaging, organizers want to encourage lawmakers to “clean up the tax code,” but Herring says they’re not advocating for one solution over another, like instituting a motherfucking state income tax, for instance.
Herring works for Microsoft as an engineer. As an organizer, he identifies as “a dude with a Facebook account” whose first and only experience with political marches started with Seattle Womxn’s March. He lives close to Judkins Park, and as a gesture of solidarity offered a pancake breakfast to passersby. He tapped out at around 50 pancakes, but the thrill of the day inspired him to remain involved. He discovered the Tax March movement through a reddit post, so he decided he’d jump in.
The event in Seattle will start at the Federal Building at 10 a.m and end at the Seattle Center at 2 p.m. The approximately one mile route is
TBD*. Speeches by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, educator and activist Jesse Hagopian, All in Washington's Minji Jung, and nine others will bookend the march.
Indivisible, Change.org, various union chapters, and the Women's League of Voters will be around, too. University of Washington’s Young Democrats and potentially also the College Republicans might come out as a bloc, Herring says.
When I asked why the College Republicans would be there, Herring said, “I think it’s great!” Uncomfortable silence compelled him to continue, “[Demanding to see Trump’s tax returns] is not a partisan issue. It’s been framed this way, but really it’s about government accountability, which is a bipartisan effort,” he said.
“We’re an inclusive march. We want to make sure that that everyone has voice so long as it’s within the realm of respectable discourse,” he added.
As of now, 3,000 people are listed as “going” on Facebook. Nationally, though, approximately 180 marches are planned. Washington State boasts five cities participating in the march: Olympia, Spokane, Anacortes, Richland and Seattle. There’s even one in Stuttgart, Germany.
So get out there and demand that Trump release his tax returns like every other US President since Nixon! The weather will be with you.
Also, just sayin: