The longest tax season is coming to a close on July 15th. The 3 month extension has allowed for more opportunities to share information about the bloated military budget during a time of growing human needs in the US. A couple of articles (Meet the People Who Refuse to Pay Their Taxes & Meet a New Generation of Tax Resisters Refusing to Pay for War ) and have helped get the word of war tax resistance to a wider audience. While many communities have utilized Tax Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about the federal budget, we know that the work extends beyond this one day. While tax day is soon to pass, conversations about where we place our collective resources in the form of taxes is taking place locally and nationally.
At NWTRCC’s online conference in May, Maria Smith, a War Tax Resister extraordinaire from Cleveland, extended an invitation to her online Birthday party just prior to Tax Day. She would love for you to join in her event. The Deadly Sonic Boom of the U.S. Military Budget will feature War Tax Resister Kathy Kelly with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy will share from her life experiences traveling to areas impacted by war, conveying the personal impacts of war and our collective responsibility in terms of US military spending. Kathy inspires action and encourages us to“catch courage” from each other to take personal risks in order to connect with a wider sense of our shared humanity. Maria’s celebration of life, sponsored by the Cleveland Nonviolence Network, will feature poets Anita Tobin and Sherrie Tolliver and will take place Saturday July 11th at 7pm Eastern standard time.
Much has changed within the US in these past few months. Many have been taking to the streets to demand justice and to call for Defunding the police and redirecting those funds towards vital human needs. Since 1990, the Department of Defense has transferred more than $7 billion worth of military equipment to more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies around the country through what is known as the 1033 Program. The National Priorities Project has proposed a Local Resolution to End the Transfer of military equipment to police. “These transfers have promulgated the militarization of police, contributing to police violence and increasingly aggressive police tactics.” NWTRCC Coordinator, Lincoln Rice recently wrote a blog about similarities of local and federal budgets, The Financial Priorities of Local Governments Mirror the Federal Government. People throughout the US are talking about ‘participatory budgeting’ with the campaigns to Defund the police as well as wider demilitarization efforts.
A recent book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop further explores these connections. The author Radley Balko explored these connections in a recent interview “the Reagan administration started blurring this line that we’ve had between the military and the police. And yeah, we had that line for a very good reason. These are very – two very different jobs. A soldier’s job is to kill people and break things – right? – to annihilate a foreign enemy. A police officer’s job is to keep the peace. It’s to protect and serve. They are not equivalent, although a lot of politicians over the years have seemed to think they are.” Representative Barbara Lee has proposed legislation to Defund the Pentagon Budget by cutting the budget by $350 Billion in order to ‘Reinvest in People and Cut Weapons of War‘.
On what is normally Tax Day in the U.S., April 15th, members of NWTRCC took to social media to raise awareness that close to half of the federal budget goes towards war. There were also actions at the IRS and Post Offices. You can find some of the actions here as well as suggestions from an earlier blog here. We can still share War Resisters League Pie Chart compiled by Ruth Benn and Ed Hedemann shared virtually with the hash tag #NoTaxes4War and #NWTRCC. The War Resisters League of Portland, Oregon will hold signs “burma shave” style on bridges with messages about government spending and priorities on July 15th. Let us know your action plans and redirection efforts in your communities.
Rev. Liz Theoharis with the Poor People’s Campaign sums up the start of 2020 and the work before us, “2020 began with an almost-war. Then a pandemic. Then a series of murders. But then came the uprising. As demands grow to redirect money away from the police and toward the building blocks of a more just, equitable society, we must do the same for the war economy.”
Post by Chrissy Kirchhoefer