NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Protesters took to the streets in dozens of cities nationwide Saturday to call on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, saying Americans deserve to know about his business ties and potential conflicts of interest.
Organizers said the protests — dubbed the Tax March — were scheduled in nearly 150 cities, and stemmed from the women’s march that took place the day after Trump’s inauguration.
At least 15 people were arrested in Berkeley, Calif. Saturday, after area protests turned violent. Around 200 people were on the scene when fights broke out at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, prompting clashes with police and several arrests, CBS SFBayArea reported.
Trump supporter John Beavers says he was attacked.
“They only want to hit me with brass knuckles on the blindside,” Beavers said. “We’re here for free speech. They don’t want that. They want confrontation.”
Protesters in New York City gathered at Bryant Park in Midtown and marched to Trump Tower. A giant inflatable white chicken with a streak of orange hair bobbed up and down as protesters made their way up 6th Avenue.
“Show us your taxes you desperate, self-obsessed, (expletive) grabbing walking human ego,” comedian Sarah Silverman said at the pre-march rally.
As 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported, thousands of people showed up to tell the president what they think.
“I just want to see what a phony he really is,” a man named Phil from Jericho tells 1010 WINS. “That he’s not as generous as he might think he is, and he’s not paying his fair share.”
“We do care. We want to see his taxes,” said Ann Demerlis, who was among hundreds who marched in Philadelphia from City Hall to an area in front of historic Independence Hall, carrying signs and chanting “We want your taxes now!”
“It’s possible that he can now show his taxes, because his current taxes are not being audited,” said Demerlis, who carried a sign saying, “Follow the Money.”
Jeffrey Embers likened the rallies to the Vietnam protests in the 60s and 70s, in that change won’t be immediate, but the need to push for change must be constant, WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported.
“Keep in the streets, right?” Embers said. “Keep active, because sooner or later, either he’ll be out of office or he’ll be forced into doing something.”
The Washington, D.C., march began with a rally at the U.S. Capitol, where Sen. Ron Wyden called on Trump to ‘knock off the secrecy.” The Oregon Democrat says the people have “a basic right to know whether the president pays his fair share.”
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, of California, one of Trump’s sharpest critics in the House, spoke to protesters just before they set off on a march to the National Mall. She said there’s nothing to prevent Trump from releasing his income taxes and that “the simple truth is he’s got a lot to hide.”
“If he thinks he can get away with playing king, he’s got another thought coming,” Waters said.
For four decades, presidents and major party nominees have released some of their tax returns, with the exception of Gerald Ford. Trump’s break with precedent has raised questions about possible conflicts of interest.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, has said Trump’s refusal to release his returns could hinder Republicans’ prospects for a rewrite of the tax code.
Activists in West Palm Beach, Florida, rallied near Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, where he plans to spend the Easter weekend.
Protesters began converging on Cambridge Common in Massachusetts, where they also plan to call on the all-Democratic Massachusetts Congressional delegation to oppose Trump’s budget proposal. They say the proposed cuts to health care, education, transportation are cruel and inhumane.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, on Friday posted an online video urging Congress to force Trump to release the returns. Democrats are pushing for a vote on a bill from Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, which would require the president and all major-party nominees to publicly disclose their previous three years of tax returns with the Office of Government Ethics or the Federal Election Commission.
Republicans also have rebuffed Democrats’ efforts to get the House Ways and Means Committee to act. It has legal authority to obtain confidential tax records, and could vote to make them public.
Tuesday is the deadline for taxpayers to file returns.
Trump is the first major party nominee in more than 40 years not to release his tax returns, saying it was because he was under audit. He later said that voters don’t care.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)