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Thousands at US Rallies Demand Trump Release Tax Returns


Demonstrators participate in a march and rally to demand President Donald Trump release his tax returns in New York, April 15, 2017.

Tens of thousands of people marched through midtown Manhattan and dozens of other U.S. cities Saturday to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns and to dispute his claim that the public does not care about the issue.

"Tax March" organizers in more than 150 cities across the country and beyond wanted to call attention to Trump's refusal to disclose his tax history, as his White House predecessors have done for more than 40 years.

The marches coincided with the traditional April 15 deadline for U.S. federal tax returns, though the filing date is April 18 this year because of intervening holidays.

WATCH: Marchers in NYC to Trump: Release Your Tax Returns

There were no reports of violence or arrests in New York. However, at least nine people were arrested in Berkeley, California, after dueling protest groups threw bottles, cans and punches at each other.

Police broke up the clashes and called for calm. They promised to investigate and prosecute those who caused the violence. Fights broke out between Trump tax protesters and members of a conservative group holding a free-speech rally and picnic in the same city park.

Two of the biggest tax marches took place in New York and Los Angeles, with each drawing about 5,000 people, according to estimates by Reuters reporters. No official estimates were immediately available.

Demonstrators participate in a march and rally to demand President Donald Trump release his tax returns in New York, April 15, 2017.
Demonstrators participate in a march and rally to demand President Donald Trump release his tax returns in New York, April 15, 2017.

In Manhattan, a good-natured crowd rallied at Bryant Park before marching up Sixth Avenue to Central Park.

Among the marchers was a mascot symbolizing their cause, an inflatable chicken nicknamed “Chicken Don,” suggesting the president was afraid to release his tax documents because they would expose embarrassing information.

"Thanks to Trump, I think that releasing your taxes when you run for president now has to be a law," said New Yorker Marni Halasa, 51, who arrived in a tutu and leggings made of fake dollar bills and holding a sign that read "Show Me The Money!"

Signs are displayed at the New York City march, where protesters called on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, April 15, 2017.
Signs are displayed at the New York City march, where protesters called on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, April 15, 2017.

In Washington, more than 1,500 protesters gathered on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol, where members of Congress addressed the crowd before it marched to the Lincoln Memorial.

"We are taking the gloves off to say: Knock off the secrecy Mr. President," said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which would play a leading role in tax reform measures being considered in Congress.

He described Trump's refusal to release his taxes as being "like a teenager trying to hide a lousy report card."

Protesters gather on Capitol Hill in Washington during a Tax Day demonstration calling on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, April 15, 2017.
Protesters gather on Capitol Hill in Washington during a Tax Day demonstration calling on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, April 15, 2017.

Among the marchers was Melinda Colwell, 34, a stay-at-home-mother from Ledyard, Connecticut. She said she was concerned that conflicts of interest in Trump's tax returns might foreshadow selfish interests in his tax reform policies.

"I think it's important to know how that could influence his decisions and how he could benefit from the decisions being made," she said.

As a candidate and as president, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has said that Trump can release his tax returns even while under audit.

The White House could not be reached immediately for comment on the marches.

A vendor displays buttons for sale at the New York City protest march against President Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns, April 15, 2017.
A vendor displays buttons for sale at the New York City protest march against President Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns, April 15, 2017.

Events were also planned in cities in Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

The marches were launched by a single tweet, organizers said. A day after the massive January 21 women's march in Washington and other cities, comedy writer Frank Lesser tapped out on Twitter, "Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong." It has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.

Recent public-opinion surveys have estimated up to three-quarters of all Americans feel they should be able to review the tax records of Trump, a real-estate developer and entrepreneur who has estimated his net worth at $10 billion.

In Los Angeles, television director Mike Stutz turned up at the march dressed in costume as a Russian general. He carried a sign that read: "What Tax Returns? Putin paid cash. Trust your oligarchs," referring to allegations of contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin.

Dressed as the "Real Chicken Don," Shawn Frye joins others in calling for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., April 12, 2017.Tax March Sacramento activists planned to join others in a protest on Tax Day, April 15.
Dressed as the "Real Chicken Don," Shawn Frye joins others in calling for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., April 12, 2017.Tax March Sacramento activists planned to join others in a protest on Tax Day, April 15.

Joe Dinkin, spokesman for the Working Families Party, one of the groups organizing the marches, said investigations into the Trump campaign's alleged connections to Russia underscore the need to disclose his returns.

"Without seeing his taxes, we'll never really know who he's working for," said Dinkin, who expected the marches to draw at least 100,000 protesters.

There have been some glimpses into Trump's tax history. Last month, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on two pages of Trump's 2005 return that were obtained by investigative reporter David Cay Johnston and released by DCReport.org. They showed Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income.

And in October, The New York Times reported that Trump had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 federal tax return, citing three pages of documents from the return.

VOA News contributed to this report.

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