Protesters Want To See Trump's Tax Returns And Have Their Voices Heard

Apr 15, 2017
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump is spending this Easter weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago. He went to his golf club a few miles away in West Palm Beach. He may have seen some protesters on the way in West Palm Beach and dozens of other U.S. cities today. People are calling on President Trump to do something every other president has done since Richard Nixon - release his tax returns. President Trump has refused to release his taxes, and he believes most Americans don't care. But across the country, protesters gathered to say they do care. In Berkeley, Calif., clashes between protesters and counter-protesters led to more than a dozen arrests. Things were more calm here in Washington, D.C. Here's some sound from that protest.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: (Chanting) Donald Trump, we're here to stay. This is bigger than Tax Day.

MARTIN: And here's a little of the scene in West Palm Beach.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: (Chanting) No more secrets. No more lies. No more secrets. No more lies.

MARTIN: NPR's Greg Allen joins us now from West Palm Beach. Greg, thanks so much for joining us.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: You're welcome.

MARTIN: So tell us a little bit more about what the scene has been like in West Palm Beach today.

ALLEN: Well, the protesters there are just across the intercoastal waterway from Mar-a-Lago. That, of course, is the private club the Trump organization owns where the president's been spending a lot of his weekends. There's been some other protests held there since President Trump was sworn in. But today, they're marching, asking for him to release their taxes, and they're sending a signal that Americans do care about this issue.

MARTIN: Tell us a little bit about who came to the protest, if you would.

ALLEN: The protesters were a lot of retirees, mostly white. There are some minorities there. But this is a Democratic stronghold, a place that went for Hillary Clinton. That said, Donald Trump spends part of his year here and has a lot of supporters. But there are some signs that the Trump presidency has energized Democrats and independent voters here. I talked to several people who said that since the election, they've been spurred to become more politically active. And they are getting more involved than ever before. Here's Dan Baker, who's a retiree from Boynton Beach.

DAN BAKER: I've always been the passive person. I've never been out before. I've always said something - everything would take care of itself. I just think this time it's - we have somebody who just doesn't keep his word. He just - everything he says - whatever will get him votes, he does. And it's - I finally had enough and said I've got to do something.

MARTIN: So, Greg, did you get a sense from talking to people like Dan Baker that this protest is about - maybe about more than just getting the president to release his taxes?

ALLEN: I think that's definitely the case. And people today were very happy to talk about the president's taxes, but I talked to many people who said they've been out almost every weekend since the president was sworn in to protest about one thing or another. I asked some of the protesters today, two women, Lisa Saunders and Brittney Patterson, if they thought the protests would help convince Trump release his taxes. Here's what they had to say about that.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: No. But maybe it will spur Congress to force something to be done about his taxes - maybe not right now, but maybe, you know, the next time.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: And if they don't, we'll be paying attention on the upcoming elections that are - they're happening very soon.

MARTIN: So, Greg, just - give me a sense of what's the mood there. Is it, you know, is it angry? Is it a sense of, well, we're in it for the long haul?

ALLEN: My sense is that people really want to see some change. I think there are a lot of people who are disappointed with the results of the election obviously, and they want to make their voices heard. And this is an area where you've had a lot of people who've been willing to go along with the party line and sit back. I talked to some Democrats today who said that frankly they're very disappointed in their own party and the party leadership, and they think the Democratic Party needs to make some changes to energize people. So there's a lot of sense that the parties, that the political establishment needs to listen to the people here and start being more responsive to people at the roots, the grassroots.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Greg Allen in West Palm Beach Florida. Thank you, Greg.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.