Anti-Trump Protesters Flock to Downtown L.A. for Tax Day March
In Pershing Square, the image of President Trump became Mr. Moneybags as crowds of demonstrators showed up to ask for his tax returns to be released.
If last month's A Day Without a Woman protests were the sequel to the blockbuster Women's March on Jan. 21, then the nationwide Tax March was the spinoff inspired by the original hit.
In Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, with not a cloud in the sky, thousands of sign-wielding demonstrators gathered at 5th Street and Olive Street adjacent to Pershing Square for the kickoff of an event featuring a large blow-up chicken that bore a passing resemblance to the President of the United States.
The other mascot was an image emblazoned on T-shirts and flags of Donald Trump dressed like Mr. Moneybags from Monopoly, holding a sack of cash and dashing away — a not-so-subtle reminder that this is the first president in decades to decide not to release his tax returns to the public.
It's ironic that Trump-as-Monopoly-Moneybags was seen by organizers as a derisive way to paint the president, given Trump himself invited that gaudy comparison with his branding efforts over the years, even creating a wheeling-and-dealing board game in the 1980s titled TRUMP: The Game, which had a tagline of "It's Not Whether You Win or Lose, It's Whether You Win."
Walking through downtown to the staging area, there seemed to be some concern, at least at the beginning, of what the turnout would be. It is Easter weekend, after all and, anecdotally, it wasn't difficult to find parking downtown.
By the time I saw a "Hey Donald, Show Us Your Rubles" sign, Olive Street was packed to the point that you'd have to push through to get close to the stage. The only sign that it was a holiday weekend was a pair of Easter bunny ears perched on a "Pussyhat Project"-style beanie of one demonstrator.
"What do you want to see? Taxes! When do you want to see them? Now!" blared the call-and-response from the loudspeakers. Also, clucking chicken sounds warbled out of the loudspeaker, just the sort of the thing that would seem like it would get under the skin of a president drawn to petty fights.
"Why is @BarackObama spending millions to try and hide his records? He is the least transparent President -- ever -- and he ran on transparency," read a Trump tweet from June 2012, printed out on the modest sign of a protester waving it while demonstrators waited for the march to begin.
Maybe there was something refreshing about seeing Trump's quotes — shards of which get passed around online with each daily outrage cycle, then forgotten — printed out and showcased in real life. Another sign printed out a May 2014 quote from Trump: "If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely and I would love to do that."
The hour spent waiting for the march to begin was peppered with call-and-response questions — "Americans don't care about his tax returns, is he wrong?" — along with some interlude tracks (White Stripes, Rage Against the Machine) that woke the demonstrators up from a midday L.A. sun coma.
There was only so much goodwill to be produced from politely taking pictures of other demonstrators signs before the crowd began to get antsy at the lack of marching. "This is what dictators do, they bore captive audiences," said one man in front of me, itching to get the walking started.
Leaflets for anti-Fascist gatherings and vegan eating literature were passed around in the meantime. Green "Resist" hats dotted Pershing Square, looking not unlike the "Make America Great Again" hats that flooded the nation's capital months ago.
The march got going near noon, a welcome relief as the crowds could now get out of the sun and walk underneath the shaded buildings. A personal drone buzzed 30 or so feet overhead, green light blinking, following demonstrators on the marching route. A man smiled as he walked the opposite direction of the marchers, a Go-Pro strapped directly on his forehead.
Another woman walked ahead with an unadorned sign that looked like an incredulous Gchat message from anytime in the past several months, reading: "How is he STILL President??"