An estimated 1,200-1,500 participants turned out on an overcast, cool afternoon for the Tax Day Tea Party held at Kluczynski Federal Building Plaza, on 230 S. Dearborn in downtown Chicago. The crowd was overwhelmingly Caucasian, with a few Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos interspersed, and included participants of virtually every age group. Though the general thrust of the event was to protest what organizers perceive to be oppressive taxation, a wide variety of anti-socialist, anti-bailout, anti-Obama, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-illegal immigrant and pro-2nd amendment views were evident among the participants. Several dozen police officers watched from the perimeter of the crowd.
Protesters held signs that read "Barney Frank: America's Whore," "Why blame Obama? It's the Fed's Fault," and "English Unites America." Many signs equated the Obama Administration's policies with socialism, or Obama himself with Adolph Hitler. Another displayed pictures of Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama with eye-patches on their right eyes, and a caption that read "We shot the wrong pirates." A flag waved by one protester displayed a silhouette of an assault
rifle, with the caption "Come and take it." One man held up a sign that read "American Taxpayers are the Jews in Obama's Oven." A large percentage of the signs expressed a need for abolishing the Federal Reserve, or the IRS, or to eliminate "pork barrel" earmarks from federal government spending. Some protesters denoted Republican policies as part of the problem too, carrying signs that read "Real conservatives don't get their talking points from Fox News," and "Republicans suck, too."
The protest was kicked off by Chicago-area radio personality Eric Mancow. Mancow energized the crowd telling them: "This is where the angels and the devils fight . . . . I don't care what you believe in . . . I'm a Christian, I'm American and I'm proud of it." He went on to address those whom he perceived to be counter-demonstrators from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) saying: "Hi ACORN. You are morally bankrupt organization . . . . I'll keep my God and my guns thank you very much." Joe Calomino, director of the Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a national organization devoted to "limited government and free markets" with chapters in 23 states, was the second speaker. A well-dressed man probably in mid-forties, Calomino noted that: "This is about the grass roots." He then asked protesters to get out their cell phones, and gave out the number of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D), so that participants could immediately register their dismay at a proposed income tax increase that has become a hot topic Illinois. While on his cell phone during this brief interlude in Calomino's speech, one man was heard to say, presumably to Governor Quinn's staff or answering service: " . . . help us get Bill Ayers out of retirement so he can bomb Obama's White House." Many dozens of others were somewhat frustrated in their efforts to contact Governor Quinn, as the lines were apparently tied up.
Other speakers noted that Bush administration policies were also to blame for the expanding deficits, and although there was a more muted response to criticism of President Obama's predecessor, there was little open hostility to the critique. Another speaker noted angrily: "You want to help a deserving needy homeowner? Write a god-damned check yourself." At the end of the rally a CNN reporter and her crew was loudly taunted by a group of several dozen protesters accusing the network of being the "Communist News Network," and chanting of "Go Home CNN." The crowds dispersed at around 2:15.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tax Day Tea Party 2009
This is my report to the Huffington Post. It's "just the facts" for now. I have a lot more to say, and I'll add my opinions of the whole affair in a little bit.