By Deborah Belle
If rallies are the new brunch, then I partook twice on Tax Day. I had long planned to attend the afternoon Tax Day rally on the Cambridge Common to insist that Pres. Trump disclose his tax returns. Then a friend asked if I would like to go to a morning rally in resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline. The protest would urge people to divest from and close their accounts with TD Bank, one of four banks funding TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline.
I went to both.
The day could not have been more beautiful, with the forsythia in full bloom in front of the bank. After opening prayers and sharing the scent of sweetgrass burning in a jar, we stationed ourselves with signs near the TD bank at the Alewife Brook Parkway Shopping Center in Cambridge.
There, we took turns leading call and response chants and swayed to Native American music. Responses to our signs and our chanting were generally positive, often enthusiastically so. Joggers, bicyclists, and people driving cars often gave us a thumbs-up or a shout-out. We concluded the rally with further prayers for Mother Earth, for the water protectors, and for the ultimate success of climate activism.
After a quick lunch I was off to Cambridge Common, where thousands were assembled, including a sizable contingent of Veterans for Peace with their flags waving beautifully in the breeze.
The excellent master of ceremonies was Michael Connolly , the newly elected brilliant state representative for parts of Cambridge and Somerville. I had heard Michael a few years earlier when he was running for Cambridge City Council, and was very disappointed when he didn’t win. A short time later he ran for state representative with the support of Our Revolution , the Bernie Sanders spin-off group that provided funds and especially volunteers. Michael is now waking up the state legislature with his important insights, wit, and drive.
Speakers argued in favor of a People’s Budget, rather than the military-heavy budget we now have, support for those who have been incarcerated, and strengthening public education against the threat of privatization. A message from Martin Luther King’s speech of just over 50 years ago was invoked: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Wonderful signs abounded, including one with pictures of Putin and Trump reading “Married, filing jointly.”
Speakers pointed out that during Republican President Eisenhower’s administration, the top tax rate was 90%. What could we do today if we had that kind of money from billionaires and wealthy corporations? Instead, they do not pay taxes at all, trillions of dollars are stashed away in tax shelters, the poor and middle class are compelled to pay more, and essential services decline.
Babies, children on their parents’ shoulders, and adorable dogs added to the joy of the day. At one point a red-tailed hawk flew gracefully close to me, landing in a nearby tree, then took wing again and circled over the crowd. Perhaps it was curious at this remarkable gathering of humans.
I stayed a bit longer, sharing a wonderful time of solidarity with those around me. I left feeling strengthened for another week in the Era of Trump.