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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Small-government backers rally

Protest marked anniversary of the U.S. Constitution

Outside the Spokane Opera House Thursday, Don Stone attends a Constitution Day rally sponsored by the Tea Party organization of Spokane. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Outside the Spokane Opera House Thursday, Don Stone attends a Constitution Day rally sponsored by the Tea Party organization of Spokane. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The people who gathered in the breezeway of the Spokane Center got a smorgasbord of national and local issues to cheer or jeer Thursday afternoon, and they clearly knew what they were in favor of, and what they were against.

The Constitution, the Second Amendment, veterans, smaller and more accountable government and state Initiative 1033 all went in the “for” category. President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ACORN, health care reform, the Federal Reserve and Spokane City Proposition 4 definitely went in the “against.”

As some 250 people listened, held signs or waved flags at a rally sponsored by the Tea Party of Spokane, a nonprofit advocacy group, a series of speakers urged them to stand united in defense of the Constitution, which was signed 222 years ago that day. It’s not a guarantee of success, but a protection against tyranny, said Leah Southwell of the John Birch Society.

“The federal government was to have limited powers,” Southwell said. The federal departments of energy, education, homeland security, agriculture and health and welfare are unconstitutional, she said, as is the Federal Reserve.

Some government leaders, whether Democrats or Republicans, don’t understand accountability, said Joe Fitzpatrick, a Marine veteran: “You’re their boss. You hold them accountable.”

In the crowd, some held American flags while others carried the Gadsden flag, a yellow, historical American flag that depicts a coiled rattlesnake and “Don’t Tread on Me” logo. Signs covered a range of issues: Free Men Don’t Need Permission To Own Guns; Hands Off Health Care; No Socialism in America; and one that carried a photo of Obama, with the slogan, “Evil Commie Muslim/Soon on trial and in jail.”

There were some signs against Proposition 4, a proposed change to the City Charter also known as the Community Bill of Rights. The nation already has a Bill of Rights and doesn’t need another one, said Sheryl McGrath, who insisted the ballot measure was really “a bill of wrongs.”

Too many people are uninformed about some of the nation’s big issues, such as health care reform or cap and trade, said Darin Stevens, a local businessman who arrived at the microphone wearing an Obama mask.

“Get involved and get informed about what’s going on,” said Stevens, who urged the crowd to vote against Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2010. The crowd cheered, not realizing, apparently, that Cantwell isn’t up for re-election until 2012.

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