NEW YORK — War resisters – and war tax resisters, those who refuse to pay what they call “war taxes” – protested at the midtown office of the IRS this tax day. After the protest, demonstrators marched to the General Post Office on 8th Avenue where they held a press conference.
Protesters gathered at the IRS office on West 44th Street at 4 P.M. on tax day. Banners, pie charts graphically depicting how tax monies are spent and hand painted “bibs” that read “1 day of the Iraq War = 1 Yr Salaries For 12,478 teachers” delivered the demonstrators’ message as they leafleted outside at the IRS. Overhead an electronic sign gave the current figures for the national debt – some 9 trillion dollars – and each family’s share, over $78,000. Officers of the Federal Protective Services division of the Department of Homeland Security looked on but did not interfere with the protest.
Shortly after 5 P.M. the protesters marched west on 44th, accompanied by members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Carrying large banners that read “Whose $” and “What For?”, the column wound its way past the Times Square recruiting center as it headed south on Broadway. The march ended at the General Post Office on 8th Avenue and 33rd Street. Marchers were met there by the Raging Grannies and members of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.
About 45 protesters held signs and banners on the steps of the post office while the Rude Mechanical Orchestra played music and danced.
As protesters prepared for a press conference on the need to “redirect” tax monies from the IRS to peace oriented non-profit organizations like the People’s Life Fund, police moved in. Members of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee were told that their banner was “obstructing pedestrian traffic”. The tax resisters held their ground despite being threatened with a summons. Police wrote down the name of one protester but did not give out any tickets.
The press conference went ahead as planned and speakers urged onlookers – many on line to mail tax forms before the midnight deadline – to stop funding the Iraq War by refusing to pay taxes. After the press conference the Raging Grannies sang protest songs.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout. Frida Berrigan of the War Resisters League said, “We probably had 40 or 50 people marching and demonstrating yesterday…I thought it was a good action.”
“All I kept thinking about was just how many people oppose the war, wish the war wasn’t happening and don’t really see a clear way of doing anything about it. On tax day, everybody’s scrambling to pay the government and feeling like their hard earned dollars are being sopped up and wishing that that money went to roads and to schools and to healthcare. We were able to interject some information about where that money really goes – and to offer some alternatives…about how people can withdraw their own complicity,” Berrigan said.