Anti-tax tea parties scheduled for Tax Day took their inspiration from the nation's original tax revolt, the Boston Tea Party. Protesters at tea parties and rallies throughout the country want to send Washington a clear message that many Americans are outraged about increases in government spending, taxation, and the deficit. TEA is the acronym for Taxed Enough Already.
Thousands rallied around the country. The National Tax Day Tea Party brought 5,000 to the state capitol in Olympia, Washington. Five thousand rallied in Madison, Wisconsin, and at least 3,000 cheered a re-enactment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Thousands more protested in Cincinnati, Ohio, Providence, Rhode Island and Chicago, where crowd estimates were at least 4,000. Police estimated that 3,000 people rallied at the state capitol in Hartford, Connecticut. More than 1,000 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol In Des Moines, Iowa, wearing red shirts proclaiming "revolution is brewing." One thousand protested in Louisville, Kentucky.
Some planned events were actual tea parties and re-enactments of the Boston Tea Party, but many of the events were public rallies, organized with the help of e-mail and social networking sites, Facebook and YouTube.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 are expected to rally tonight in Atlanta where Sean Hannity of FOXNews and former U.S. Representative Dick Armey will speak. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is also expected to draw a crowd of thousands when he speaks in New York City tonight.
In Texas, Governor Rick Perry was scheduled to speak at tea parties in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Austin, and anti-tax protesters in Galveston were asked to sign tea bags and send them to their representatives in Washington, the Galveston Daily News reports.
Protesters in Rome, Georgia re-enacted the Boston Tea Party at a public rally. Layla Shipman and Mike Morton, who organized the tea party, said that they were doing it because, "It's very clear: Lots and lots of folks are very concerned with this rapid increase in spending beyond anything you can comprehend - this rapid increase in taxes that are going to burden our children and grandchildren." Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Savannah, was expected to attend. Shipman and Morton started organizing the tea party two weeks ago, using Facebook, the Rome News Tribune reports. In the spirit of the original tea party, Rome protesters were scheduled to dump tea leaves into a local river at the end of their rally.
In Lansing, Michigan, more than 4,000 people attended a Taxpayer Tea Party on the grounds of the state Capitol. The atmosphere was festive, The Detroit News reports, with some in the crowd carrying American flags as they listened to piped-in country music and crowding around guest Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber." Wurzelbacher told interviewers, "Some people buy into the mainstream media, but when people meet me they see I'm not some dumb redneck plumber. We all want less taxes and less government control. That's not a Republican or Democratic theme. That's an American theme."
Bridgett Wagner, director of coalition relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told USA Today that she sees a possible reprise of the tax revolt of the 1970s and '80s, when a California movement to slash and cap property taxes led to successful ballot measures from the West Coast to Michigan and Massachusetts.
"These movements in the past have shown that when people have finally had enough, even the politicians at some point have to listen," says Wagner, calling it a "bottom-up" phenomenon.