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Although bigwig Donald Trump‘s views on D.C. statehood seem unclear, those of a grassroots group of activists planning a “Tax Day Protest and March for Equality” along Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday, April 15 are anything but.
Local advocate Josh Burch, who founded the Neighbors United for DC Statehood organization, says the demonstration will begin across from the Wilson Building, on Freedom Plaza, at 9:30 a.m. and proceed to the U.S. Capitol. There, protestors will be invited to knock on politicians’ doors demanding equal voting representation for the District’s more than 670,000 residents. April 15 has dual symbolic significance, according to Burch, because it is traditionally Tax Day: This year, however, it will be the observed date of D.C. Emancipation Day—commemorating when President Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the District, on April 16, 1862. Thus, the 2016 deadline for filing one’s taxes has been deferred to Monday, April 18. (An Emancipation Day Parade will be held on Saturday.)
“We hope people bring their real tax forms, their real 1040s,” Burch says. “If we have thousand of District residents marching with their 1040s, it shows we do pay our taxes, where is our representation? We’re a democracy movement, not an anti-tax movement.”
Burch has been coordinating with pro-statehood group DC Vote to handle the nuts and bolts of making a march down Pennsylvania Avenue a reality: permits, security, public outreach, an event budget, and other logistics. Burch says he’s hoping for a huge turnout, in part because the D.C. government and schools will be closed on Friday. (“This can and should be a family-friendly event,” he adds. “I became a statehood advocate when I had a kid.”)
The organizers are aiming for national attention, and Burch says pro-statehood politicians will likely attend.
“We’re not asking for a piecemeal position,” Burch explains. “We’re asking for the full rights of American citizenship.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery