Thousands of marchers across the U.S. took to the streets demanding Trump release his tax returns to reveal business ties and potential conflicts of interest.
Marches took place in nearly 200 communities, according to the Tax March website. San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. were among participating cities.
In San Francisco, thousands of people gathered at City Hall before they marched down Market Street to the Embarcadero.
The rally started with speeches from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim.
Trump’s ties to Russia and the growing divide between the rich and the poor were recurring topics from Saturday’s speakers.
Holly Dowling, 59, attended the march because she feels Trump has secret ties with Russia that should be exposed to the American people. She believes Trump is thinking of his own personal gain over the interest of the people.
“There was one year – he cherry picked that year – it was around the time he was going to marry Melania and he had to release his tax returns,” Dowling said. “He had to look squeaky clean so Melania could get immigration status.”
Many people feel Trump’s tax returns will reveal potential conflicts of interest between his extensive international business involvement and decisions he’ll face as president.
Chris Colvin, a records manager at a law firm in SF, attended the march with his wife.
“Trump took tremendous loans out from banks controlled by the Russian government during the 2008-2009 financial crisis in order to keep his businesses afloat,” said Colvin. “So the question is whose interest is Trump going to be working for when he’s in the White House? Is he going to be working with the best interest of the American people? Or the best interest of the Russian banks?”
Colvin and his wife both agree that Trump’s main interest in office is his own financial gain.
“It’s all very frightening hearing Trump talk about how much he admires Putin, how Putin is an effective leader, when Putin is the last person in the world who should be admired based off his human rights record alone, not even including all the corruption going on in Russia right now,” Colvin said.
According to Trump’s Public Financial Disclosure Report, Trump has investments in or owns companies in at least 20 other countries.
In January President Trump signed an executive order that banned entrance to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. The proposed list excluded the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, where Trump owns two golf courses and two luxury towers.
“Well he banned immigrants from Iraq which we just fought a war to liberate, he didn’t ban immigrants from Egypt,” Colvin said. “Egypt is a dictatorship just like Iraq…they have a bad human rights record, and in Egypt Trump has hotels. He’s not doing any business in Iraq; this is all for his own financial gain.”
During the protest, a 30-foot inflatable chicken with golden hair stood in the front of City Hall, depicting Trump as a chicken. Similar chickens were on display at some sister marches in other cities as well.
“Show us what you owe us, show us your tax returns!” Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi shouted to the crowd in a brief speech before the march. “Show us your tax returns. Why are you so chicken?”
On Sunday morning Trump’s tweets questioned why the release of his taxes is so necessary.
Trump cited an ongoing federal audit as the primary reason he’s yet to release his tax returns and later argued that his voters aren’t interested in whether he releases them or not.
United States presidents are not required by law to release their returns, but each has done so voluntarily since the early 1970s.
Danelle Morton, Tax March spokesperson, hopes that although the next few years of Trump’s presidency will be tough, the public will still continue to fight for what they believe in.
“He’s the first presidential candidate to hesitate to release his taxes and because of his many financial dealings in all these different countries, it’s not clear how he’s benefiting from deals he’s made,” Morton said. “It’s blind trust.”
Morton hopes the march will put pressure on Congress to subpoena the president’s tax returns. “We’re not under any illusion that he’s going to see people marching in the streets and decide to release his taxes,” she said. “Congress needs to make this happen.”
San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim stressed that although Trump’s financial information is an important issue, everyone must look at the bigger picture: the rich should be held accountable for the country’s growing wealth gap.
“We, the American people, want to know, was our president honest?” she said.
“I’m not afraid to call Trump an enemy of this state. He is an enemy of the state – that I believe in.”