Over the past few years, Tax Day has meant protests by people in tri-corner hats waving Don’t Tread on Me flags. This year, however, while the Tea Party founders, groups affiliated with the 99% Spring, the labor and progressive-based complement to the Occupy movement, will gather in over 40 states to call for economic justice and tax equity.
These protests are largely street theater, but they provide at least some perspective into who is ascendant at the street level. And this year, it looks to be the progressives. They will mass people in demonstrations today that have the look and feel of Occupy protests, even if they’re more in service to specific legislation like the Buffett rule or tax fairness rather than an alternative lifestyle and a pox on all houses on the political scene. However, the methods of direct action are the same. Most of the protests will take place at Congressional district offices, corporate headquarters or shareholder meetings.
Shareholder activism will become a rising complement to this movement, with tens of thousands expected to confront shareholder meetings across the country as part of the 99 power movement. Wells Fargo, General Electric, Verizon, Bank of America, Sallie Mae and Wal-Mart are among the shareholder events that will be targeted. Today’s shareholder meeting target is US Bank in Minneapolis. It will be followed up with a march to Wells Fargo.
Some of the events today are clearly political in nature. The Washington DC protest will target Grover Norquist’s office. Houston protesters will rally outside a campaign office for Mitt Romney. A Pittsburgh march will specifically target Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. Other events will highlight corporations who benefit from rules they devised. In Kansas City and St. Louis, activists will play “Corporate Tax-Dodger Ball” to raise awareness of corporate tax loopholes. Marches in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia will target corporate tax dodgers and in some cases bring mocked-up tax bills with them as they rally outside specific office buildings in their respective financial districts.
I don’t know how far stage-managed protests get you in the modern age, but there is a sense among progressive groups and labor that they must use Occupy-style tactics to confront the holders of power.