Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 15: We Don't Pay, We Play!

Roger, Clare & Jim clamor for peace

How do the Asheville Area War Tax Resisters keep the pressures of the yearly Tax Day rush to obey the Warfare State from completely depressing us to the point of numbness? We don’t pay – we play! Joining with the New South Network of War Resisters, our local War Tax Refusers held a peaceful, yet somewhat raucous rally at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville April 15. We gathered to hold signs, fly banners, and distribute the WRL Pie Chart, "Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes."

Coleman, redmoonsong & Steve engage a passerby

The majority of honking from passing vehicles carried smiling faces, giving us thumbs up, clenched fists, and the classic “V” of two fingers. Rarely was it the single antagonistic finger of disapproval. Some of the original Fools of Conscience were present, including  Steve Magin, in his 29th year on Asheville’s streets speaking out against paying for war. Once again, Steve went checkbook in hand to the IRS office offering to pay in full if the agent could promise not to send his tax money to war. The request was denied. So was Steve’s offer to surrender himself to the authorities for not paying.
 As we cued up to picket from the park to the Federal Building and then to the Post Office, we were confronted by one of the few vocally challenging locals who asserted that our chants and “Honk For Peace” signage was  somehow hurting his ability to sell hotdogs from his nearby vender’s cart.  Some among our group carefully responded by observing that  “…democracy in action is often noisy” and asking if  he preferred the "deadening silence of a totalitarian state?”  Our critic seemed to take it in and we took our leave, heading to the Federal Building to unfurl our banners and meet up with a local "Move to Amend" group demonstrating with signs insisting that “Corporations are not people and money is not speech! ” 

Bill Ramsey stepping up at the Federal Building
The combined energies of our War Tax Refusers and the local protest against the Supreme Court decision that upheld Citizens United, was a defacto cross-movement alliance, challenging unjust policies of the American Empire. After only one encounter with the Federal Building security forces, who seemed compelled to remind us that “ Federal property is not Public property” and  that we had no rights once we crossed an invisible line. It seemed surreal to this reporter that a line existed  past which we ourselves could become Federal property.

We  made our final stand of the day at the Post Office. We spent the remainder of our afternoon's dissident adventure handing out Pie Charts to drive-by filers at the letter boxes, reminding them where their money is going, and encouraging them to re-consider. Throughout the day we were accompanied by a supporter in a car plastered with posters for our upcoming NWTRCC  gathering in Asheville May 3-5.
Jim, Lydia, Coleman, Roger & Bill flying the banner
As we wound down our playful challenge to local tax payers, we convened at the Firestorm CafĂ© and Book  store for a common meal and banter. Firestorm is a worker owned collective who will participate on a panel  “How does Militarism effect the work we do?” at the May gathering.

 Hope to see many of you in Asheville in May.   

Story by Coleman Smith; Photos: New South Network photographers

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