In spirit of National Tax Day, approximately 1,000 people gathered at the Cambridge Common on Saturday to protest President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his own tax returns.
The rally featured several speakers from various organizations involved in social activism, including Massachusetts Peace Action, the New England Independence Campaign, the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, Healthcare-NOW! and Veterans for Peace.
The rally also featured performances from musical groups such as Vocal Opposition, a protest choir based in the Greater Boston area.
The crowd chanted along with speakers while holding signs that read “Show us the money” and “Spread the wealth.”
Madeline Grace, a member of the NEIC, said after the rally that it was organized to address Trump’s tax issues as well as the flaws in the tax system at large.
“The goal is to draw attention to the fact that Donald Trump has something to hide, and … that New England gives the federal government way more than we get back,” Grace said.
Cole Harrison, the executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action, said he encouraged people to reach out to local representatives on Twitter during his speech.
“We want a fair tax system … [and] we want President Trump to release his tax returns,” Harrison said. “We don’t want any cut backs to programs we depend on.”
In addition to Trump’s tax returns, speakers addressed various other social issues, including federal taxation, health-care reform and military spending.
Grace Ross, a coordinator at MAAPL, stressed the importance of the people’s control over their taxation.
“If Trump says he can have our money, we’re going to give our money to each other,” Ross said. “The time has come for us to choose where our taxes go, not follow like lambs where they say our taxes are supposed to go.”
Stephanie Nakajima, the director of communications for Healthcare-NOW!, spoke about shortcomings of the current healthcare system, and the importance of adopting a single payer healthcare system.
The United States spends more taxpayer money on healthcare than countries with socialized medicine, or single payer countries that cover everyone within the state, Nakajima said.
“We pay more in taxes for healthcare than Brits, the French or the Germans,” Nakajima said. “In return for those higher taxes that we pay, we do not get the universal health care that all those other countries get.”
Massachusetts State Rep. Mike Connolly told The Daily Free Press that protests like this play a key role in working against the hatred brought up through the Trump administration.
“It’s important for us to be organizing and working together to resist … everything that Donald Trump represents,” Connolly said.
Several protesters who participated in the rally expressed their dissatisfaction with the Trump administration.
Peggy Bliss, 61, of Arlington, said Trump’s lack of transparency disqualifies him as a valid leader of the United States.
“He can’t possibly represent us if he’s got some hidden agenda that we don’t know about,” Bliss said. “We don’t know if he’s representing us or if he’s representing his business interests.”
Aaron Ford, 38, of Seattle, Washington, said he comes to rallies because he would like to encourage the government to be more forthcoming with citizens.
“I’m here to demand transparency from our government,” Ford said. “There’s no point to democracy if there’s no transparency. We need to know what our leaders are doing.”
Ofelia Cohen-Odiaga, 17, of Arlington, who spoke to the crowd during one point in the rally, said afterward that she feels comforted by the environment at gatherings like this.
“I’m pretty terrified of Trump and his racist, homophobic, sexist, tax-evading BS,” Cohen-Odiaga said. “I know this isn’t the only side of the coin, but coming out and showing up to stand in solidarity with other people, it’s kind of home to me.”