The Streets of New York, The Letter in the Mailbox

Tax Day protest singers and musicians

Filthy Rotten System and guest singer. Photo by Hideko Otake.

NYPD at tax day demonstration

NYPD was friendly but monitoring the action. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

Some passers-by danced while others objected to our message. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

man with dog on shoulders

This might be the point where Bud sang out, “I’ve had a monkey on my back, but never a dog on my shoulders.” Photo by Hideko Otake.

No Taxes for War protest at IRS, April 2024

The scene. Tax Day 2024, Manhattan IRS. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

One thing about being out in the streets of NYC, it is never dull. Our annual tax day presence at the IRS was a lively affair this year thanks to musical accompaniment of the Raging Grannies and Filthy Rotten System, and an array of passers-by who offered support or challenged our message — some more politely than others.

There was the guy who congratulated us on using our right to peacefully protest and then yelled “Trump 2024” as he rushed off. There were more police than past tax day protests, probably because of the daily Gaza demonstrations but also because that former president was in court about two blocks from where we stood.

A couple women walking by together furiously screamed at us “What about the hostages?” but didn’t stop long enough to listen to our concerns for all lives.

Mike Levinson had more of a chance to engage: “I shared a lively somewhat confrontation conversation with a passerby who seemed disturbed by one of my solo chants, ‘We want our money spent on peace, not for war in the Middle East!’ She challenged me, ‘Why are you only opposed to war in the Middle East, and not opposed to war in the Ukraine?’ I promptly responded, ‘We are opposed to war everywhere, including in the Ukraine. Read the leaflet, Ukraine is mentioned on the back of the flyer with the pie chart. Stick around for the rest of the protest and you will hear us speaking out about all of the areas of military conflict and violence, including right here in America!’ She sort of backed down and agreed to be more open minded.”

A passer-by with a dog on his shoulders was something of a highlight. In fact, it almost seems we were having a bit too much fun given the gravity of the situation in Gaza and the West Bank and the danger of war with Iran. Not to mention Ukraine, starvation in Sudan, and ongoing violence in so many other regions. War Resisters League and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines recently called for protests and lobbying against U.S. military aid to the Philippines, where the army under Marcos Junior is bombing villagers.

Mike Levinson ended the rally with a call to continue our protests against taxes for war all year round, not just on tax day.

The surge in interest in war tax resistance has been heartening, but we know we have a long way to go to turn the policies of this country around. Refusing to pay for war is really  every-day resistance as taxes accompany most employment and the IRS can come calling any time. Here in New York City we plan to offer a series of informal get-togethers to keep answering questions and offering support to new (and ongoing) resisters.

Getting that first letter from the IRS is often a moment when you ask yourself “WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!” Years ago someone from the IRS said letters are their best form of collection, so I want to encourage new resisters to reach out to the NWTRCC network when that first letter arrives and the fear bubbles up. It’s easy to talk yourself out of carrying on a confrontation with the IRS, but our persistent resistance is a necessary part of the movement for peace, justice, and a better world for all.

— Post by Ruth Benn
NYC War Resisters League

P.S. The NYC protest was co-sponsored by NYC War Resisters League, Catholic Worker, Kairos Community, Pax Christi NYS, Brooklyn For Peace, World Can’t Wait, Veterans for Peace/Chapter 34, Manhattan Peace Action, Move the Money, Peace Action NYS, Peace Action Bay Ridge, NYC Metro Raging Grannies, Extinction Rebellion NYC, and the Granny Peace Brigade.

One thought on “The Streets of New York, The Letter in the Mailbox”

  1. MIKE LEVINSON says:

    Another great report from Ruth Benn, for the New York City War Resisters League, definitely one of the liveliest groups on the Left! Out of the meetings and into the streets!

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