published Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Protesters upset over federal spending descend on D.C.

by Matt Wilson
  • photo
    Staff Photo by Matt Wilson Tens of thousands of people marched to the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, carrying signs as they protested the president’s health care plan and what marchers say is out-of-control spending.

WASHINGTON -- Flags displaying the message "Don't tread on me" mingled with flags from virtually every state in the union -- Georgia and Tennessee included -- as tens of thousands marched Saturday to the Capitol building to protest federal spending.

"I've never done anything like this before," said Tom Wilk, of Soddy-Daisy, on of several dozen Chattanooga-area residents who rode to the nation's capital on a bus to take part in the protest. "It's just amazing to be around so many people that agree with me on a lot of important subjects."

Protesters marched midmorning down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, chanting slogans such as "kill the bill" in reference to the health care reform bills in Congress.

Another chant, "You lie!" repeated what U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said during President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night. Rep. Wilson has apologized for that interruption, but many signs Saturday contended that "Joe was right."

At a rally before the march, Paul and Sally McCoy, of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., stood underneath a large Tennessee flag.

"It's about time something happened," Mr. McCoy said. "Throw those bums out."

As protesters marched, some jeered a group of counter-protesters standing along the sidewalk calling themselves Billionaires for Wealthcare. The group, dressed in tuxedoes and evening gowns, sarcastically cheered for "less health, more wealth."

A member of the group, Andrew Boyd, who also called himself Phil T. Rich, said it was more interesting to do a satirical style of protest rather than a straightforward one. Mr. Boyd said the characters he and others were portraying were meant to be members of the boards of major insurance companies.

"We're here to thank the teabaggers that are here that are helping us save those profits," he said, in-character. "We love denying claims."

Estimates varied as to just how many protesters attended Saturday's event, which ended with several hours of speeches, songs and recorded messages on the lawn outside the Capitol building. A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department said officials don't give out crowd estimates, but speakers at the protest said the number was more than 1 million.

Sherre Bales, of Chattanooga, a member of the Chattanooga Tea Party protest group, said she hoped the turnout sends a message about health care and deficit spending.

"I hope that Congress will see there are a lot of grass-roots people out here," she said. "I just want to be heard."

The group from the Chattanooga area will return by bus this evening. The group has been in Washington since Friday, and Saturday night held a counterprotest of its own at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Bill Alford, a resident of Polk County but a member of the McMinn County Tea Party group, said he was "truly amazed" at the number of people who came to the Capitol. He also said he was glad the protest was, for the most part, orderly.

"We feel our country is moving toward socialism," he said. "We care about our country. We're not terrorists."


Some slogans seen on signs at Saturday's rally at the U.S. Capitol:

* "I'll pay taxes again when you show your birth certificate"

* "No you can't!"

* "Where is McCarthy when you need him?"

* "Don't make me come back here with my militia"

* "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free"

* "Come and take it" (underneath a picture of an assault rifle)

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squatch6 said...
  • "Come and take it" (underneath a picture of an assault rifle)

There are enough problems with ignorance causing misunderstandings with this movement to protect liberty. I read you article and here is one correction for you. I have pictures of thousands of these signs. I was there. I only saw the sign mentioned above with a cannon, but there are versions with an AR-15. Please read the history of the Battle of Gonzales. Understand what you are looking at.

Battle of Gonzales:

September 13, 2009 at 9:10 a.m.
TXAG72 said...

Interesting that you didn't mention the sign "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy." Real classy. And where were all these so-called "spending protesters" when Bush/Cheney started an unnecessary war and proceeded to fight two wars with "off the books money?"

September 13, 2009 at 4:12 p.m.
KWVeteran said...

Thanks to ALL OF YOU who were in attendance. If there were any way that I could possibly have been there, I would have stood beside you. You all have the bravery of my buddies when we battled in Korea, it's just in a different way today but the cause is just as right! Thank you so much!

September 13, 2009 at 4:24 p.m.
gjuster said...

I was at the March - it was one of the most amazing events I have ever been to. There weren't tens of thousands of people there, it has been estimated that there were about 2 MILLION people there. I am not going to agree with everyone - and of course there were a few that carried what I considered offensive signs - don't demean the effort that we all made in spending our own money to protest what has been going on for a very long time - and that is the federal control over our lives. It didn't start with Obama, it has been going on for a long time. We argued with the policies of Bush also, this President has just accelerated the bad policies.

The general feeling I got was that America needs a total change. The corruption of both parties must stop. Public service stopped long ago, and most in congress are corrupt with power. We want to bring America back to the constitution. President Obama has the right to push his agenda (which I believe is socialist) we in America have a right to try and stop it.

I just wish the media would not have focussed on the few "bad apples" and instead reported on what was a truly amazing feat - that I am not sure has ever been duplicated - 2,000,000 people showing up to rally - and most if not all on their own dime.

September 13, 2009 at 8:11 p.m.
revdocdee said...

A bit of fact checking, please. You quote event organizers on the crowd size, and print the "2 million" figure from a participant, but nowhere is there any common sense reality checking. The crowd here this weekend barely stretched across Third Street, which divides the Capitol grounds from the National Mall, which translates into somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 depending upon how closely packed people are. Look at pictures from Inauguration Day last January, when crowd estimates were in the 1.5 million range. The crowd that day stretched from the Capitol steps beyond the Washington Monument -- more than a mile and a half. The crowd on Inauguration Day literally closed the government center of the city. The past weekend's event put no more strain on the city than an NFL game, and it might actually have fit in FedEx Field, home of the Redskins. None of that is a comment on the content or purpose of the event, but rather a simple plea to get the basic facts straight. No official department in DC does crowd estimates, because they are always controversial, but simply looking at photographs of the event and comparing them to past events for which academic crowd measurements have been done can give you a reasonably accurate estimate. All it takes is about 10-20 extra minutes of research on the part of your reporters.

September 17, 2009 at 9:42 a.m.
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