Holy Late DC Tea Party Coverage, Batman!
I have no excuse for this except that I ended up abroad (read: elsewhere in VA) after the tea party. So, here goes!:
The atmosphere by the White House during the protest was one of fear and indignation, but also cheerful despite the rainy weather. The roughly 500 people in attendance were split between the main crowd in Lafayette Park and a smaller group in front of the White House itself. Though the purpose of the event was to protest the current economic system and the perceived trend towards socialism in the government, issues from all over the board were on display. Some questioned the President’s American citizenship with signs and shouting at the White House; others carried signs proclaiming the Employee Free Choice Act unconstitutional. The main issue that brought people from across the nation to the seat of power, however, was the economy.
“It’s time we just let the system work,” Todd, who had come to the event from Seattle, WA, said. (He would not provide his last name.) “We’re moving too fast, not thinking things through. This is not the way the system was created to run, and it’s not the way it should head in the future.” When asked about the protests occurring across the country, he said, “This is the start of a movement. The more people who come out [against the current direction of the economy], the more people will know it’s okay to come out.”
He was not the only person from the West Coast to come for the protest in DC rather than attending one closer to home – Abraham Mudrick from Silverton, OR, came with a sign that read “Fascism…is the Merger of the State and Corporate Power. – Benito Mussolini” and “The Fed Reserve: Officially Pulling the Strings Since 1914”, stylized as the logo from The Godfather. “I came all the way down to help this movement to be heard, and to tell the federal government to stop out-of-control spending,” he said. “This movement needs to break the chains of ‘taxation without representation’,” which he describes as “elected officials not doing what the American people want. We didn’t want the Bush bailout, and the majority of people who elected Obama did not want the stimulus package. There’s a disconnect here – our representatives aren’t representing us. Future hyperinflation is a hidden form of taxation without representation.”
The protest, although mostly peaceful, was broken up by a minor clash with counter-protesters, led by Alex Lawson, a DC native. “I paid $200 for five signs at Kinko’s, and three of them were destroyed by the crowd,” he said. He and his unaffiliated group had gathered on their lunch break and dressed as billionaires and gone down to the protest at Lafayette Park. They managed to get close to the front of the small stage, waving their signs, which were blocked by the Tea Party protesters. There was some pushing and shoving of the counter-protesters, and the signs were taken out of their hands. Lawson feared for the safety of his small group, and tried to de-escalate the incident. After one of the organizers shouted at those who had taken the signs, saying that the counter-protesters could be there, too, Lawson’s group had one sign returned to them, and moved to the back. His group was interviewed by a documentarian on-scene, where he was asked by someone in the crowd, “When was the last time you got your ass kicked?”
“The vein of that kind of anger was permeated throughout the protest,” Lawson said. “It was unfocused, raw rage.” He also said that “the organizers were professional. They handled the crowd well.” Lawson and his group went down to the protest because “the tax burden has shifted onto the middle class. I was offended by the fact that people thought they were taking the fall now as opposed to the past eight years. That’s why I went out in the rain.”
At about 2:15 PM, an item was flung over the White House fence onto the lawn, and the protest had to be broken up for about thirty minutes while the Secret Service investigated. The item turned out to be a box of tea bags.