Roughly 300 protesters gathered in downtown Jacksonville yesterday, joining thousands across the country demanding President Donald Trump release his tax returns.
Before yesterday's Trump Tax March, a diverse crowd representing a broad cross-section of ages, genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexualities assembled in Hemming Park for live music and speeches.
As the crowd marched from the park to the IRS building downtown, they chanted, “Lock him up,” and “What do we want? Trump’s taxes. When do we want it? Now. If we don’t get it, shut him down!”
John Aloszka, one of the protest organizers, said, “We really just want to make sure that we hold Donald Trump accountable and that we let him know that he might be president but we’re not letting him get off easy.”
The peaceful protest was watched by a large contingent from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Protest organizers and JSO worked together prior to this event to avoid a repeat of the April 7 protest in Hemming Park that turned into a violent clash between police and protesters.
At Saturday's march, many also advocated for dropping the charges against the Hemming Park Five, the five protesters who were arrested on April 7,
Reports circulated that another protester from that incident, who had a warrant for his arrest based on his actions on April 7, was taken into custody by JSO at the Trump Tax March; via Facebook messenger this morning Aloszka confirmed that an arrest was made and said it was the man wearing a mask whom videos show taking Gary Snow’s megaphone. JSO did not immediately respond to Folio Weekly’s request for confirmation.
(Snow is the counter-protester whom many blame for instigating the events that led to the violence in Hemming Park on April 7. Snow denies that he is at fault.)
When asked about counter-protesters at the tax march, Aloszka said, “I think expressing your opinions is one of the best things you can do, I do it frequently, but I think what I don’t do is get in people's face, I don't mock people, I don’t try to start violence.
“I just hope from now on, because we aren't going away and I assume Gary Snow isn't going away, that we can learn to coexist.”
Yesterday’s marchers took issue with Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, in spite of repeated assurances that he would do so. In May 2014, Trump has said he would “absolutely” release his returns if he ran for office.
"I will absolutely give my return, but I'm being audited now for two or three years, so I can't do it until the audit is finished, obviously, and I think people would understand that," Trump said during a debate in February 2016.
Trump also previously said he would release his taxes after Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate. Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011. Last September, Trump said he would release his tax returns if Hillary Clinton released her emails. Several batches of Clinton’s emails have since been released. Trump has also said he would release them after the IRS was done auditing him, as they do annually for all sitting presidents and vice presidents.
In response to Trump's claims, the IRS previously released a statement that there is no law or other requirement that taxpayers refrain from publicly releasing their returns, during an audit or otherwise. Yet Trump still claims that he cannot release them because he is being audited.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” in January, Kellyanne Conway said, "The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns.” Conway also said, “We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him.”
That same month, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 74 percent of Americans want to see Trump’s tax returns, regardless of their political affiliation. On Saturday, people across the country and in downtown Jacksonville made it clear that they are not going to stay silent about this issue.