A Massive group of protesters took to the streets of Boston’s Financial District late Tuesday afternoon to demand major corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans pay their fare share of federal and state income taxes.
Jamaica Plain organizations and people were prominent in the protest.
Organized primarily by the MassUniting Coalition and the Right to the City Alliance, the extremely lively and vocal tax day protest was aimed at the Commonwealth’s “most egregious tax-dodgers,” according to a press release announcing the rally and subsequent march, which snaked its way through the heart of the Financial District, and caused police to shut down both Summer and Franklin Streets for periods of time.
Assembling at Dewey Square, quickly becoming the spiritual home of Boston activism, at around 5:30 p.m., the crowd was comprised of more than 30 local labor and peace groups, including City Life/Vida Urbana, Occupy JP and out of Jamaica Plain. Other sponsors included MoveOn.org, Occupy Boston and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
The assemblage heard from a number of speakers before setting off on its serpentine path from Dewey Square to Post Office Square, finally coming to rest on Franklin Street, in the shadow of the Verizon building.
Report Claims Fortune 500 Avoid Taxes
The protests followed a report released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a non-profit, non-partisan group whose goal is to “ensure that elected officials, the media, and the general public have access to accurate, timely, and straightforward information that allows them to understand the effects of current and proposed tax policies,” according to the group’s website.
The report found that of 280 big, profitable Fortune 500 corporations, 30 of them paid no net federal income tax between 2008 and 2011, and, according to new information, almost all of those corporations continue to evade federal taxation.
Rapper and Councilor Arroyo Speak
The crowd at Dewey Square heard from Antonio Ennis, a well-know rapper-turned-activist, as well as representatives of the SEIU, at-large Boston City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo and a host of others—in English, Spanish and Chinese—before marching on Post Office Square.
Arroyo, who lives on Wachusett Street in JP, spoke on the theory of the “trickle-down economy,” and how allowing the wealthiest percentage of Americans to keep more of their earnings was supposed to help create jobs.
“Where are the jobs?” Arroyo asked the crowd rhetorically.
Olivier Hendricks, a member of City Life/Vida Urbana and an ironworker with the Local 7 labor union, said he just recently began working again after 2 1/2 years, and told the crowd the “election is coming. Let’s send a message.”
The message would seem to be that citizens’ anger towards corporate America hasn’t diminished in the least, and shows no signs of doing so in the near future.
MBTA Fare Hikes Cited
The march departed from Dewey Square and made its way down Federal Street, pausing en masse before the hulking, architecturally ponderous Bank of America building to demand that “public enemy number one” pay up when it comes to federal taxes.
Jamaica Plain resident and member of the Alternatives for Community and Environment and the T Riders Union, Khalida Smalls, spoke about corporate greed and what she characterized as needless MBTA fare hikes and service cuts.
“There is no need for fare hikes or service cuts ... Big corporations need to pay their fare share,” she said. “We need the state to step in and find alternative sources of revenue.”
She continued to speak about how UBS, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America all hold high-interest rate MBTA loans to the tune of $25 million.
“All three banks are like loan sharks,” she said.
Over the past few months, many people have called for state lawmakers to step in and force the banks to renegotiate the loans rather than passing the debt on to riders.
'I See People Power'
When asked to speak on what he saw when he looked into the crowd, City Life member Marshall Cooper, Jr., of Roxbury summed it up with few words.
“I see people power,” he said. “When I looked back at the crowd while I was marching, that’s what I thought to myself: ‘This is people power.’ We have the power, all we have to do is stick together.”
Frances Louis, also a Roxbury resident, said what she saw in the teeming crowd was “solidarity.”
City Life member Carolyn Grant spoke about bank foreclosures.
“Stay in your homes and fight,” she said. “Because when we fight, we win.”
The marchers also came armed with mock tax bills for the worst corporate offenders, demanding they pay up at once.