Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace arranged a rally outside of Congressman Chris Collins’ office on Wednesday April 19. The goal of the rally was to raise awareness to where tax revenue was distributed.
GVCP member Dr. Arnold Matlin led the rally with associate professor of psychology James Allen. Around 50 people attended the rally, including Geneseo residents and members of the Peace Action Geneseo student organization.
Attendees held signs that emphasized peace over war and that criticized a proposed increase in military spending by the Trump administration. Organizers passed around a petition that reflected this message. Allen and Matlin both spoke at the event, advocating for tax and budget reform, as well as for action from Collins.
The United States currently uses 53 percent of its discretionary spending to fund the military, which equates to a total of $618.8 billion, according to a press release from GVCP. President Trump plans to increase this figure by an additional $54 billion, according to Allen, which has brought about concerns from GVCP and Peace Action members.
Allen said that he disagrees with this use of tax dollars and that he instead believes that military adventurism has created more problems than solutions for the U.S. Because of this, he would prefer to see the money put to other federal projects, Allen said.
“Trump wants to peel another 54 billion away from social spending,” he said. “With that money, 1.6 million college students could be sent to school for free, or the EPA could be funded for over six and a half years. There’s just so many better ways to spend the money.”
Peace Action Geneseo president junior Uma Natarajan said she believes that protests like this are important in raising public awareness to both tax payers and Collins, the latter who has yet to address the protests. Natarajan said that she hopes that the rallies will continue to evoke positive reactions and will lead to congressional change.
Peace Action Geneseo vice president senior Lilly Perry echoed many of Natarajan’s beliefs. She stressed the importance of convincing Collins and other congressional representatives to reconsider their beliefs.
“Not everyone here is saying they want to abolish the military,” she said. “The problem is just that we spend a lot more than anyone else. The next highest item on the budget is education at 6 percent. It’s absolutely wild.”
The Tax Day rally joins a series of protests in front of Collins’ office that have been held since Trump’s Inauguration. Protests are held weekly by a group called C-27, which refers to Collins being the representative for the 27th district of New York. Both GVCP and C-27 have emphasized the importance of greater communication between Collins and his constituents.
Geneseo resident Pat Murphy sees value in the protests and hopes that it brings people to think about how their tax dollars are spent and how they are not.
“We want to show other people out there who are sympathetic that they aren’t alone,” Murphy said. “We want Representative Collins to know that his constituents are really annoyed about what’s going on."