Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hundreds Stage Die-In to Protest Wall Street Funders behind the #GOPTaxScam Fifteen Protesters Arrested for Blocking Access to Stock Exchange while Demanding Congress Stop the Tax Give-Away to Corporations and the Rich

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New York—Outside the New York Stock Exchange today, where the resources siphoned from the poor and middleclass by the Republican tax bill will be concentrated, 500 protesters filled the street chanting “Kill the Bill. Don’t Kill Us!” More than 60 lay down for a die-in.

The die-in, organized by unions, community groups and religious organizations, happened at the center of corporate profiteering on the eve of the Congressional vote on the tax bill. It was organized in coordination with another protest today in Washington D.C. Both actions pressed Congress to stop the tax give-away to corporations and the rich.

Half of Americans think the tax bill will lead to higher, not lower, taxes for themselves and their families.  The bill is hugely unpopular with the public, but Republican Congress members are advancing it anyway to mollify their big-money campaign contributors.  “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Western New York, said recently.

New Yorkers know that the tax bill is an attack on their state and on its people.  That’s why this diverse group of activists came together to defend working people, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the young and the sick.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James led the protestors in chants of “Tax the Rich, Not the Poor” and spoke before the event. She was joined by Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen, who was one of the arrestees, Reverend Brian Gibbs of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies and Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition.

The protesters blocked the main entrance to the Stock Exchange and much of the intersection of Wall and Broad Streets. They held tombstone shaped signs, signs that said “Tax the Rich!” and “Stop Wall Street Theft” and giant checks written out to “the very rich.” When police warned the crowd to move or face arrest, 15 protestors refused and were arrested. As the police arrested the protestors who refused to move, the crowd continued the non-violent demonstration. 

If passed, the Republican tax bill (#GOPTaxScam on Twitter) will be a gift for Wall Street corporations. But it will mean tax increases for many in the middle class, deep cuts to Medicare, and state and local cuts to heath care, public schools, universities and other services. It will cause deficits that conservatives will use to put Social Security and other safety-net programs on the chopping block.

Arriving at the action, I was joined by activists who have taken part in the actions to fight the #GOPTaxScam!  

Some of us had arrived back in New York after our civil disobedience action at the Capital the night before, arriving back in town at 430 AM. As we were speaking in New York, members of the House of Representatives were planning to vote on the stilted tax bill.  

It felt appropriate to be at Wall Street for the action, taking on the same banks and powers the Occupy Movement took on, trying to challenge the inequalities that this bill will only expand. 
Many worry the bill is pushing us toward a new gilded age of disparities in wealth, in which corporations pay no taxes at all. 

"All day all week, Occupy Wall Street!" we chanted. "Tax the Rich, not the poor!"

"Kill the bill, don't kill us!" we screamed as we staged a die in to demonstrate what would happen to many of us if the will passed. 

Finishing the die-in, I ran into my friends Leslie Cagan and LA Kauffman who took this picture. 
She writes: "Another day, another demo, smiling through the despair: Protest against the #GOPTaxScam — withBenjamin Heim Shepard and Leslie Cagan at New York Stock Exchange."

Wall Street still controls the economy. 

Laughing in the madness of  it all, photo by Arsenia Reilly-collins with Michael Kink and Benjamin Heim Shepard.

Erik always takes the best pics. 

Protest outside the New York Stock Exchange Demanding Congress Stop the Tax Give-Away to Corporations and the Rich — with Benjamin Heim Shepard.

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