#TaxMarch, Detroit-Style — Photo Journal, Week 15

A small, but spirited group assembles in front of the IRS office in downtown Detroit. Eventually the group grew in size to about 400 marchers. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

What am I doing in Detroit this week you might want to know. Or not.

But if you are interested I am here in the city that Anthony Bourdain says “is” America, working on my second, short independent documentary film — “Uncle Frank’s House: An American Dream”.

My film’s most universal theme is about the persistence to stay alive, and potentially thrive, in a world where the rules have been changed and the finish line has been repeatedly moved to a position some might consider not worth trying to reach. Sounds a little bit like America as whole right now, huh?

Make America clever again. Protesters get their creative on in downtown Detroit. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

My Detroit film is focusing a lot on the outer areas of the city. It’s where my great uncle once lived the “American dream” — full-time work for the Ford Motor Company and home ownership with a fruit tree in every yard (cherry, peach or apple, according to one local woman I spoke to this week). As I write this on Easter Sunday, I am inspired by the words of another born-and-raised Detroiter I talked to, who said his grandmother always told his Ford-employed family, “If they offer you overtime on a holiday you take it and when you get a day off, you make your holiday then.”

There’s no overtime pay for the freelancer, of course, but there are taxes. To me, they’re an American tradition that you have the right to vocally oppose and/or demand to know where the money you pay is going. Another tradition is seeing the tax returns of people running for (much less occupying) public office. Pretty simple stuff. After all, if there’s a reasonable speculation you might have some monetary ties to a country like say, Russia, well it might be in the interest of our democracy that that be revealed.

“No more secrets, no more lies. Show your taxes, show your ties,” was the chant at the Detroit #TaxMarch. Photos by Kathy Drasky.

I ventured to downtown Detroit for the #TaxMarch, which was well organized by Indivisible Non Partisan District 9. While the crowd was small compared to what I’m used to in San Francisco, the passion and the outrage were the same.

Over the course of my three visits (so far) to Detroit while working on this project, I’ve been reminded that the city’s size is some 143-square miles (you can fit San Francisco, Manhattan and Boston into that and still have room left over). Its population has shrunk from an almighty almost 2 million in 1950 to less than 700,000 today. Getting 400 people to come downtown (when there were other marches in the suburbs and state capitol at Lansing) was a good turnout and I was proud to be a part of — if only for a few hours — what they call “Detroit strong”.

Marches across the country are bringing out our warriors. Not their first time at a protest march and it probably won’t be their last. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

The more time I spend in Detroit, the more I come to appreciate its tough exterior, always administered with a healthy dose of down-to-earth openness and genuine friendliness. These signs kind of sum that up.

No more “nice liberal”. Detroit #TaxMarch, Photos by Kathy Drasky,

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