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Tea parties from sea to shining sea

From the Kansas City tea party

WASHINGTON – More than 2,000 tea parties from coast to coast attracted hundreds of thousands tax and Big Government protesters on Independence Day – perhaps the biggest July 4 political event in America since the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence.

From Washington and New York on the East Coast to Los Angeles and Monterey on the West Coast and all points between, Americans had their say yesterday about bailouts, cap-and-trade bills and new federal spending programs that they believe are mortgaging their children’s futures and robbing them of personal freedom.

The turnouts that defied traditional July 4 diversions, heat and rain encouraged organizers looking forward to the next scheduled tea party events Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C.

Nearly 5,000 people turned out in Oklahoma City at the state Capitol building. That protest was one of 32 in Oklahoma alone.

Get ready for Sept. 12! Visit the one and only “tea party store” now.

In San Antonio, Texas, between 3,000 and 4,000 gathered in intense heat throughout the day at the Rio Cibolo Ranch. Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber,” was one of the featured speakers along with Gov. Rick Perry, who became the first elected official to sign the “Contract with the Constitution,” a document that espouses 10 principles including limiting the role of the federal government, protecting the right to bear arms and amending the Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Tea partiers in Washington D.C.

In Washington, D.C., the center of expanding federal powers, about 2,000 small-government advocates rallied to express their outrage at the trillion-dollar “stimulus” plans.

“They are wasting all of our money,” said Sean Albert of Richmond, Va. “They’re not running our government like we would run our own checkbooks. When I’m out of money, I stop spending the money.”

Hundreds also rallied in Atlanta where event organizer Bob Frady told a crowd, “It’s time that we take our country back.”

At Miller Park in Marietta, the Cobb Independence Day Tea Party continued yesterday into a second day with more than 2,000 people in attendance.

Some 2,000 people gathered in Morristown, N.J., to mark the nation’s birth with and protest the growing size of government. Some signed their name on an oversized version of the Declaration of Independence. Signs in the crowd read: “Save our Constitution” and “America’s no longer free.”

Protesters sign the Declaration of Independence in Morristown, N.J. (Photo: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)

Another dozen rallies were planned yesterday in New Jersey.

“The truth of the matter is that our government has gone out of control,” Vermont attorney Steven Howard told an assembled crowd in Burlington. “We have let loose the leash and now it is running rampant.”

In Louisville, Ky., where some 1,500 turned out, Wendy Caswell, president of the local tea party organization, said: “We’re definitely for upholding the Constitution, what our forefathers laid out for us, so it was an honor for us to do it on Independence Day.”

Tea party in Frankfort, Ky.

“We’re just trying to teach people about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. A lot of what’s going on in Congress wouldn’t stand up to the Constitution,” said Bernard Hargenrader at the Houma, La., tea party, where some 200 gathered at the downtown county courthouse.

In Huntsville, Ala., a young medical student wore a Barack Obama mask carrying a sign that said: “Do you really want me to make medical decisions on your behalf? Just say no to government-run health care.” The Huntsville rally was one of 11 scheduled in that state.

Similar rallies took place in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Bozeman, Mont.; Bloomington, Ill., and Syracuse, N.Y.

At the East Texas tea party in Lukin, organizers gave out the White House telephone number and urged attendees to call Obama and tell him: “We are not happy, and we are working to make Texas free from his legislation.”

Texas’ former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, told the crowd that America is “facing the single greatest threat to our liberty that we’ve ever seen. I believe that President Obama was elected because we failed to lead. But I also believe that his greatest legacy as president will be that he inspired a new generation of conservatives to rise up and defend our liberty.”

Cruz is running for state attorney general.

“I like to think of Texas as America on steroids,” Cruz said. “It is a spirit that says ‘give me a horse, a gun and an open plain and I can conquer the world.'”

In Olympia, Wash., about 1,500 turned out for a rally on the Capitol campus. In Hawaii, tea party protesters draped American flags and placards along the Kaahumanu Highway in Kona. In Montgomery, Ala., some 500 protesters gathered at Overlook Park sporting signs that said: “No Obama heath care” and “What would Jefferson do?”

An estimated 5,000 attend tea party in Orlando, Fla.


“It is a day when we celebrate the independence of our country and not that it is a democracy, it is a republic,” said Pat O’Malley, organizer of the Clearwater, Fla., tea party. “And the powers that be are trying to turn it into a democracy.”

Obama was a source of irritation for tea party attendees in Fayetteville, Ark. Joan Phillips carried a sign that read: “Washington: Where’s your common sense?” She was not talking about George Washington. She said Obama is trying to make the country socialist.

“He is selling us down the drain,” she said. “I decided to get up off my fanny and hold my sign here.”

Organizers around the country expressed their delight with turnouts.

In Reno, Nev., organizer Debbie Landis put the crowd at 3,000.

“I was in the middle of a conversation and I turned around and saw all these people – it filled me with joy that this many people care,” Landis said. “We’re deeply concerned about this administration and previous administrations’ frivolous spending. We’re afraid what will happen if cap-and-trade [is passed].”

About 300 turned out in Asheville, N.C., where signs read: “When taxes rise, freedom dies” and “Taxation without representation is no 4th of July picnic.”

“We felt we couldn’t sit back anymore and not say anything,” Jan Sherlock said. “We just do not want to go to socialism.”

Bill O’Connor, the organizer for the event, came dressed as Patrick Henry.

“We’re on our way to declaring independence from an oppressive government,” O’Connor said. “The main thing is citizens are going to speak today who have deep concerns about things going on at all levels of the government.”

In Lansing, Mich., Joan Fabiano shouted into the microphone: “We are tired of the out-of-control spending, tired of the socialization of our government, tired of the erosion of our personal liberties.”

“It’s not about the freedom anymore,” said Justin Bovee at a rally in Twin Falls, Idaho. “It’s about the power. They can get away with tax fraud while we go to prison.”

Gadsden flag

“Don’t Tread on Me” flags were in evidence at many of the tea party rallies, including one at Southfork Ranch, Texas. Some in the crowd there wore shirts supporting independence for the state of Texas.

Signs from the WND “tea party store” – including “Where’s the birth certificate?” – were in evidence at many rallies.

In Grandville, Mich., Ida Pettibone carried a sign that read: “Give me liberty, don’t give me debt.”

“To stand for liberty is to stop the growth of government,” said Pettibone, 65. “Our government is in so much debt, and we need to stop it.”

There were still more rallies in Plantes Ferry Park, Idaho; Starkville, Miss.; Lincoln, Neb.; Nanuet, N.Y.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Temecula, Calif.

In Tallahassee, Fla., attorney Pace Allen, organizer of the event, explained: “It is a rally against wasteful, excessive government spending. Excessive bailouts, handouts and entitlements are bankrupting our country.”

To the south in Pensacola, about 100 turned out to express fears about socialism and government spending.

“I am tired of the direction the administration is taking the nation,” said Greg Sutton, 44. “Socialism does not work. It never has worked. It never will.”

Tea party signs in West Palm Beach, Fla. (WND photo / Joe Kovacs)

More than 2,000 turned out in Yuma, Ariz., where Dan Shooter said: “I think this is a message to Washington. We’re coming. We’re coming.”

At the Phoenix rally, Daniel Medina, 36, said: “We’ve been talking a lot about the Constitution today. We wanted to exercise our free speech. We’re coming together as patriots, not as one political party or another. We’re being taxed and taxed and taxed.”

“Our children and grandchildren are going to be taxed out of their gourds,” said Frank Giordano at the Augusta, Maine, rally. “It’s young people that elected Obama. But they don’t realize how much they’re going to have to pay (in taxes) because of him.”

Thomas Tabback, an author and inspirational speaker, told an audience in Quincy, Ill., to remember what the nation’s independence is all about.

“This is one of the most important Independence Days in a long time,” he said. “There’s a huge power grab going on and still, many average Americans out there don’t realize how many of our freedoms are at stake.”

In Tyler, Texas, Kevin Hard said, “I think what we’re really finding here is that all of the people here are united in a cause, and we all understand that we’re all on the same page. The number one issue of the day is the out-of-control government spending. If we could harness that in, there (are) a whole lot of other issues that could work themselves out. We’re very concerned, especially for our children and grandchildren, the generations to come. We want to leave this a great place just like we had it when we were kids.”

Nearly 2,000 turned out in Tyler.

Elected officials were few and far between at the tea parties, but Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., addressed a crowd of 300 in Omaha, explaining that Democrats “love to tax. They love to spend.”

“Taxation is the taking of our freedom,” Terry said. “Today, we celebrate the freedoms that are inherent to being an American.”

The tea party concept is both a remembrance of the original Boston Tea Party and an acronym that stands for “Taxed enough already.” In Wichita Falls, Texas, they brough both ideas together by reading the Declaration of Independence aloud.

“Many people have never read it before, or they read the first two paragraphs then stop,” one organizer explained.

The July 4 tea party in Boston

In Stafford County, Va., Dylan Stefl held a sign almost as big as he is. It read “7 and already in debt.”

“We’re banking on his future today,” said Pat Stefl, Dylan’s father. “And we’ve had enough of too many taxes.”

Some 700 turned out in Altoona, Wis. Organizer Micah Stofferahn said, “It cost us about $1,000 to put on this event. … If the government would have put it on, it would be $65,000 at least.”

Rallies also took place in Memphis, Tenn.; Beaufort, S.C.; Greensboro, Ga., and Odessa, Texas.

About 1,500 turned out in Columbia, S.C., where Republican Sen. Jim DeMint addressed the crowd. In Salina, Kan., several hundred gathered to sing patriotic songs, read the Declaration of Independence and sound off against taxes and national health care.

In Joplin, Mo., hundreds listened to state Rep. Jim Guest say, “I believe we have a government that is out of control and ignoring the wishes of the people.”

Guest has sponsored a resolution that reclaims Missouri’s sovereignty under the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment and would have told the federal government to “cease and desist” all mandates “beyond the scope of … constitutionally delegated powers.” The resolution passed in the House but stalled in a Senate committee.

“Our 10th Amendment protection is slowly slipping away,” Guest told the crowd Saturday, saying he would raise the resolution again next year and that it would likely enjoy more Senate support the second time around.

Hundreds turned out in Del Rio, Texas, and more than 500 in Norwich, Conn.

But several thousand gathered in Ventura County, Calif., where signs read: “We Are In Hot Water,” “One Nation Under God” and “You Can’t Fix Stupid, But You Can Vote Them Out.” Among the speakers was Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide, a magazine that analyzes movies from a biblical perspective. Baehr said because of the burden of the growing national debt and higher taxes, the United States was “on the road to serfdom” with a tax burden that would have people working six months a year to cover taxes.

He also said the true national debt was heading toward $56 trillion, most current estimates peg the total at about $11.5 trillion.

Baehr also touched on the new “cap and trade” proposals that would create a system of controlling pollution by setting a cap on total emissions, but also allowing for companies to trade emission credits so that cleaner companies can sell their credits. It would also tax polluters, which could mean the cost would be passed onto consumers.

“It means there will be a carbon tax, so are we going to be taxed for our breathing?” he asked.