UMHB All Access: Belton Tea Party protest
By Evan Duncan
The Belton Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party did not end with Lake Belton becoming a makeshift kettle, but Bell County protestors still made an impact at Confederate Park.
An estimated 500-plus people gathered on the afternoon of tax day, April 15, to express their disapproval of the current federal spending in Washington. Signs littered the park with bold letters reading “pirates hijacked my paycheck,” “throw the bums out,” and even “secede.”
The program involved prayer, multiple speakers, a sign parade, the singing of the national anthem and “God Bless America” and a symbolic toss of tea bags into a large vat.
“What we have at the present time is our congressmen and our senators … not paying attention to the people who put them in office,” said Judy Brady, outreach chairman for the Republican Party of Bell County. Brady and her husband were among the speakers at the event.
They dressed in colonial clothing to pay homage to the Boston Tea party of 1773 when colonists tossed taxed tea into the harbor. Brady spoke as a pair of tea bags dangled from her glasses.
“They are not operating by the Constitution. They are taking away our rights …,” she said. “It is not fair for the young kids who are coming up in the world ….”
The family theme was evident at the event, with many children present, holding signs and flags. One boy wore a T-shirt that read “I’m six years old and $48,000 in debt.” Another young boy held a sign that replaced the “O” in “Obama” with the old Soviet Union symbol of a hammer and sickle.
Many conservatives and others fear that the increased government spending will leave today’s children footing the bill.
Densel Corbin, a participant who clutched an American and a Texas flag, said, “I served in World War II in the United States Navy, and I have worked hard all my life since the time I was 9 years old, and I don’t want my children to be burdened by my current government’s spending.”
Some Obama supporters braved the gathering to offer their opinion.
“They really need to face the fact that for eight years they never came out and said a word, and for eight years Bush did what he did to destroy this country’s economy,” said Irene Andrews, who held a sign that read, “You are the bunch that got us in this mess.”
The large crowd of Tea Party supporters fired comments at the Obama supporters.
“We’ve got communists behind us!” one vocal protester shouted.
“Why are there so many of us and only a few of you?” a Tea Party participant yelled. He was answered with a yell of “Because we are in Texas.”
Hundreds of rallies with thousands of participants took place all over the country, and leaders attempted to use the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. The crowd at Belton’s rally was mostly older Americans who are less likely than young people to use social networking technology. The Belton Tea Party did not use a Facebook group to increase publicity.
Some UMHB students attended the event, including Daniel Strom, who waved his bright yellow Tea Party sign high during the protest.
“Granted, you should look after other people, but it shouldn’t be forced on you by the government,” Strom said as he described his reason for attending.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is acting with the protesters by backing a state sovereignty resolution. It urges the federal government to repeal any legislation that forces state governments to act when they are threatened with criminal or civil charges or the loss of federal funding. Perry spoke at three Tea Parties in Texas and gave eight interviews on tax day. He also generated buzz on Sean Hannity’s popular conservative talk radio show.
John Brady of Bell County, the husband of Judy Brady, said he was surprised at the number of people participating in the various Tea Parties.
“We really had no idea what to expect, but this movement has grown from the grass up and moved very rapidly. It’s really been an amazing thing—all these people expressing their distaste and concern with the direction our government is going.”