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Tax Day Demonstration

Art and Revolution comes out to help Santa Cruz residents file their taxes.
April 15th, tax day. Hundreds of Santa Cruz residents filed into the post office to send off their tax forms, and Art and Revolution, along with other students and community member, were there to meet them.

Dressed as skeletons, continental soldiers, women covered in lace and blood, Bechtel and Halliburton and Uncle Sam, clad fully in American stripes with a huge $ sign on his back and oil containers chained to his feet and hands, they certainly upped the ante on paying their national dues.

Carrying signs that dripped with fake blood which said: “Your taxes pay for death”, “Victory”, “We Won” and “I feel safe now” certainly made some heads turn, of course, the ominous drum beat and wheel barrel full of dead and bloody babies marked simply as “Collateral Damage” helped too. “It is supposed to be tongue in cheek,” demonstrators said, “It is supposed to make people realize the absurdity of the whole thing.” Demonstrators walked back and forth across Front St. telling both pedestrians and drivers alike, “We’ll take tax forms right here, you can give us your taxes, in fact you can give us cash, fifties are good.”

Demonstrators agreed that it was important to come out and act on tax day because of the “outrageous way in which our tax money gets used.” Joe, clad as the skeleton pushing the wheel barrel of babies, continued “the money taken from our taxes goes to the machinery of death instead of health care, housing or education.” Grant Wilson, one of the organizers of Art and Revolution, took the issue to the next level stating: “The tax system is set up in an anti-democratic manner, it is not participatory on any level. People cannot vote towards where their tax money goes. It forces them to be complicit in carnage and destruction.”

Marlene Winell acknowledged that the demonstration had a very graphic feeling to it but elaborated that disgusting was the point. “It is sick in the extreme, the U.S. invades a third world country under such bogus pretenses. Here people live comfortably, the media is very cleaned up. The images of destruction aren’t there; we don’t see the carnage and the death at all. The government is scary,” she continued, “but the public is so willing to be influenced. Bin Laden was swapped out for Sadam Hussein and no one blinked an eye. The weapons inspection teams never found anything, so they switched the focus to liberation, but who asked us to liberate? We shouldn’t be feeling good about this; we have caused so much death. So much of the world is outraged, we should be too.”

Art and Revolution’s demonstrations certainly take on a different quality than most. You will not see people sitting at a table handing out fliers, but if you’re lucky you may get a six-foot plus puppet or a fully staged performance. “Our intention is to find a way to use creativity and humor to provoke people to think about something differently,” said Wilson. “It’s personal therapy, it’s cathartic. I hope, on some level, it is also societal therapy. We want people to be intrigued, to be curious. It is engaging and provocative, people are less afraid to talk to someone who is playing a role. Discussion can only go so far, but this kind of performance can reach everyone, across boundaries.” And reach everyone it did, from students honking their horns in approval, to elderly couples waving the peace sign, to parents explaining patiently to their children why the people in the square were all dressed up and chanting “More blood for oil.”

Brent, the soldier banging out drum beats on the bottom of a garbage can, summed up, “There is a hopeless feeling with the war going on, but realizing the ability of art and music to fight complacency is powerful.” “I am trying to be more peaceful in my personal life, and in my thoughts,” he said, “this really brings it home; to compassion to peace and to love which really frame the larger issue.” They do indeed.

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Re: Tax Day Demonstration

Art & Revolution itself wasn't responsible for
the Tax Day Demonstration even though some of
its members took part.
I thought it important here since this article
credits Art & Revolution with this art protest to
state that Art & Revolution has been discussing
within the group whether or not to use blood and
gore as a tool for protest and for the March 15th
protest specifically, we decided not to do something that would bring folks down even more
than they were already. Some members who were
not at the meeting and others decided on their
own to gore things up. I for one feel that the
opposite of war and distruction is creativity,
art, beauty and life and that the use of a
wheel barrow full of bloody babies is a violent
image and doesn't help us trancend this horrible
war. The use of violence and blood has been debated in the protest community for a while now
and I respect and support those who would use them
but I just wanted to state that Art & Revolution
itself wasn't responsible for this event even though myself and other members took part in this

See you in the streets.


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