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Tea Parties to host tax protesters

Wed., April 15, 2009

Demonstrations planned throughout the region

From the Spokane Convention Center to Coeur d’Alene’s Independence Point to Colfax’s Codger Pole, tax protesters around the Northwest will gather today at Tea Parties.

There are no plans to serve orange pekoe and crumpets, though. “Tea” in this case stands for “taxed enough already,” according to some protesters.

It’s a movement fueled in part by talk radio and talking-head cable television. Last February, CNBC’s Rick Santelli called for a “Chicago Tea Party” protest of the economic stimulus bill being considered by Congress, and drew a crowd to the shores of Lake Michigan.

But long before Santelli, others have used imagery from the Boston Tea Party in Colonial America when objecting to taxes. The current movement gets some of its energy from the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party, Libertarians and conservatives angry with growing federal deficits. At various times, they’ve called for like-minded individuals to mail tea bags to the White House to protest the stimulus package.

Wednesday’s protests, which coincide with the deadline for most individuals to file their federal tax forms, are being scheduled around the country, and a major demonstration is planned for Olympia.

Although organizers like to make reference to that Boston protest of 1773, it’s unlikely that there will be much dumping of tea into bodies of water today.

“That’s definitely not the plan,” said Gary Edgington, the organizer of the Spokane event, scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. near the Spokane Convention Center breezeway. He’s hoping there won’t be hundreds or thousands of tea bags tossed in the nearby Spokane River that would draw objections from state and local environmental regulators.

There will be speech-making. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Evergreen Freedom Foundation president Bob Williams and others will be speaking at the Spokane event. Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman, who will be speaking at Olympia and Seattle events, urged his supporters to attend protests to gather signatures for his latest ballot measure on property taxes, I-1033.

Organizers describe it as a grass-roots movement, although some media watchdog organizations have noted the protests are getting strong support from Fox News and several conservative organizations, Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works and dontGO.

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