Tea party protesters rally against big government, taxes

Thousands of tea party members and supporters gathered around the Washington Monument last Thursday to protest big government and the American tax system.

FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit group chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, organized the tax day event, one of many rallies held throughout the day in D.C. and across the country.

Various speakers, such as members of Congress and musicians – including a Republican rapper named “Hi-Caliber” – participated in the evening rally that lasted until 10 p.m.

Participants in the tea party rally on the National Mall said they had various reasons for coming to support the movement in D.C. Birch Swofford, a retiree from Athens, Tenn., attended the rally and held a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag along with a banner that detailed “President Obama’s Socialist Agenda.”

“We’re here to stop our children and grandchildren from being saddled with debt,” Swofford said. “Not enough is being done by the government to lower the national debt.”

Swofford said the president and members of Congress were at fault for the rising national debt.

“The federal government is not getting enough revenue to pay down the interest on the debt,” he added.

For many protesters, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were targets of frustration and anger.

A chorus of boos was heard whenever their names were mentioned, and signs attacked their political views and personalities.

Dan Schlueter, a high school history teacher and a professional reenactor of historical events from southern Maryland, was dressed in Colonial-era clothing at the rally. He held a giant flag typical of 18th century America.

“The government has no idea of what it was originally intended to do and is now very bloated and out of touch with the Constitution,” Schlueter said.

He said he was “loosely affiliated” with the tea party, and like other protesters, has attended other tea party events in the past.

“It’s good to meet other patriots and dialogue with each other, and to do it peacefully is important too,” Schlueter said.

The rally ended peacefully, and though an exact count on the protesters at the Washington Monument rally is unknown, FreedomWorks spokesman Brendan Steinhauser said the organization prepared for 10,000 people.

“The country is coming to a tipping point,” Steinhauser said. “People are furious at both parties. We’re building a non-partisan constituency that’s demanding fiscal responsibility. we promote cutting everything, and I mean everything, even the military.”

A poll released by the New York Times and CBS Wednesday found that in general, “Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class.”

Tamara El Waylly contributed to this report.

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