Resist: Tax March and Feinstein town hall coming up
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Major news last week included a U.S. missile strike in Syria and the swearing in of Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Events in the coming week will include the national Tax March and an alt-right rally and counterprotest in Berkeley Saturday, April 15, and Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-California) town hall next week.
The April 6 missile strike came in retaliation for a nerve gas attack on civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun two days earlier. The Trump administration blamed the attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; the Assad government and its Russian allies have denied the accusation.
As military interventions often do, the missile strike united most Republican and Democratic legislators behind the president. Dissent came from the left and from the nationalist alt-right, both opposed – from different angles – the U.S. interfering in countries overseas while problems remain unaddressed at home.
Several dozen activists protested the strike April 7 at the Powell Street cable car turnaround, a traditional gathering spot for "day after" demonstrations. The action was called by the Answer Coalition, a self-described anti-imperialist group that organizes antiwar protests.
Feinstein town hall
Feinstein announced this week that she will hold rare town hall meetings Monday, April 17 in San Francisco and April 20 in Los Angeles.
A news release from Feinstein's office said little about the content of the meeting, but town hall gatherings are typically opportunities for constituents to share their concerns with their elected representatives.
"As far as I can tell, Feinstein has never held a genuine town hall during her tenure as U.S. senator," gay longtime transparency advocate Michael Petrelis told the Bay Area Reporter.
"I believe she's avoided town halls because too many political animals have sucked up to her over the years, while average voters – until Trump's election and inauguration – felt their duty as citizens was met when they cast ballots on election day and saw no need to question Feinstein in public forums," said Petrelis, who plans to attend the meeting. "Direct democracy requires regular town halls not only with our local, state and federal elected officials, but also with their aides."
The San Francisco town hall – scheduled to last only an hour – will take place at 11 a.m. at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 2850 19th Avenue. Free tickets are required, available online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/san-francisco-town-hall-with-senator-dianne-feinstein-tickets-33503512909. No protest signs will be permitted inside.
Feinstein, 83, is up for re-election next year, and while she hasn't officially announced, early signs point to her running for a sixth, six-year term. Recent polls have seen Feinstein's support dip, though she remains popular in the state.
A survey by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that 48 percent of voters thought Feinstein's running would be "a good thing for California," but support for Feinstein slipped when voters were reminded that she will be 84 next year, with 62 percent saying another Feinstein campaign would be bad for the state, the Mercury News reported.
The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters in English and Spanish March 13-20
Feinstein has served in the Senate since winning election in 1992.
Tax March and other events
The next big national protest will be the April 15 Tax March. Originally envisioned as a demand for Trump to release his income tax returns, the event has expanded to call for a fairer tax system and oppose tax cuts for the wealthy, according to Our Revolution, a group that grew out of the Bernie Sanders campaign that aims to support a new generation of progressive leaders.
The San Francisco event will begin with a rally at Civic Center starting at 1 p.m., followed by a march down Market Street. Similar marches will take place in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country. The San Francisco march is expected to be sizeable – perhaps the largest local protest since the post-inauguration Women's March – with more than 9,000 people indicating they will attend on the event's Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/events/644516582398449).
Also on April 15, Trump supporters and alt-right activists will hold a Patriot's Day free speech rally in Berkeley, which will be met with an anti-fascist counterprotest, similar to the clash that took place at a pro-Trump rally in early March.
The rally, sponsored by the Liberty Revival Alliance, will feature popular alt-right speakers. Members of the Oath Keepers (a conservative organization of current and former members of the military and law enforcement) and a group called 2 Million Bikers have said they will provide security, according to a report in the East Bay Express.
The rally is scheduled for noon at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley. In response, Bay Area anti-fascists are hosting a "bloc party and cookout" starting at 10 a.m. at the same location. The weekly Berkeley farmers market has been canceled for the day, reportedly for the first time ever.
"These fascists are coming to our backyard in an attempt to scare us off the streets and they hope to build on this success," the Bay Area Committee Against Fascism wrote on the East Bay IndyMedia website. "What we do, or do not do, on the 15th will have ramifications across the country."
On Tuesday, April 18, San Francisco activists are planning a vigil and protest against the reported torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya. The protest will start at 7 p.m. at the Russian Consulate, 2790 Green Street. ( https://www.facebook.com/events/234814540326817/.)
Recent news reports allege that as many as 100 gay men have been rounded up and sent to detention centers, where they have been beaten and some have been killed. A spokesman for head of state Ramzan Kadyrov denied the reports, saying there are no gay men in the mostly Muslim Russia-aligned republic.
Also on April 18, local environmentalists and other oil pipeline opponents will hold a protest as part of a week of action calling for defunding the Keystone XL pipeline, which Trump recently approved after years of contentious debate. The march will start at Justin Herman Plaza at 3:30 p.m., stop at banks along Market Street that are involved in funding the pipeline, and end at the Board of Supervisors meeting at City Hall. (https://www.facebook.com/events/752458551595649/ .)
Finally, this year's Easter party in the park Sunday, April 16, put on by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, will have a more political edge than usual. In addition to the regular lineup of drag queens and Hunky Jesus contestants, the event promises a "Trump exorcism." The party starts at noon at Hellman Hollow in Golden Gate Park.