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Date Posted: 02:47:09 05/25/11 Wed
Subject: Tea Party COUNTER RALLY in Worcester Massachusetts[4.18.11]
Monday, April 18, 2011
Noisy Tax Day protests set a new tone
RALLYING THE FAITHFUL
The Worcester Tea Party held its third annual tax day rally at Lincoln Square yesterday, with attendees displaying numbers representing the national debt.
By Shaun Sutner Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER — The smallest tea party gathering in the three years that the activist group has been rallying in the city on Tax Day was disrupted yesterday by a tense confrontation with left-wing protesters. The group waded into the rally with megaphones blaring, forcing police to separate the factions.
While many in the crowd of 150 to 200 tea party enthusiasts carried signs calling for smaller government and attacking national health insurance, the counter-protesters sported signs and banners criticizing capitalism and deriding conservatives.
About 15 black-clad anti-Tea Party protesters arrived on foot at Lincoln Square about a half-hour after the rally started at 4 p.m. and immediately moved into the crowd in front of Worcester Memorial Auditorium.
Two police detail officers hired by the Worcester Tea Party, which organized the event and held a permit for the square, pushed the counter-demonstrators back. Several enraged tea party supporters tried to throw punches at their opponents, and people on both sides shouted obscenities.
There were no arrests or injuries.
Police said the anti-tea party group did not have a permit and had to stay well away from the rally, on the other side of Lincoln Street. Police reinforcements arrived a few minutes after the initial confrontation, but there was no further incident, though counter-protesters kept up a steady stream of chants until the rally broke up about 6 p.m.
“You're a bunch of traitors to your own country,” B. Sands, a tea party member from Northboro, shouted at the demonstrators. “Go to Russia. Go to China.”
“You're a … Nazi,” one of them yelled back.
At the lectern, Loren Spivack, the self-styled “Free Market Warrior” and author of a Dr. Seuss-style parody of President Obama, called on the assembled tea party supporters to use their clout to influence the upcoming Republican primary election and capitalize on recent tea party strength in Congress.
“Do you think there's a state in the country where you can run a Republican primary without tea party support?” Mr. Spivack asked. “There's not one. You guys control the Republican Party.”
Circulating in the crowd were the usual assortment of colorful characters who have populated Worcester Tea Party Tax Day rallies in 2010 and 2009 and a national Tea Party Express event last fall, on the eve of the November election.
There was Uncle Sam in red, white and blue garb; Richard Nieber of Northboro, a retired Raytheon designer in a Colonial Minuteman costume, staring down the counter-protesters and equipped with a sword and Kentucky Flintlock pistol replicas; and many others waving the “Don't Tread on Me” Revolutionary War-era flag.
Also on hand were area notables including Worcester City Councilor-at-Large Konstantina B. Lukes; former Republican candidates for elected office Robert Delle of Paxton and William J. McCarthy of Worcester; state Rep. Kevin J. Kuros, R-Uxbridge; Boylston School Committee member Brad Wyatt; and Tantasqua Regional School Committee member James A. Cooke of Brookfield.
Several local media figures also took part, including blogger and businessman Bill Randell, who gave a speech about the rising costs of health care, which he blamed on government mandates, and radio personality Jim Polito, whom Worcester Seven Hills Tea Party leader Bonnie Johnson told the crowd was the local tea party movement's favorite media person.
Yesterday's relatively low turnout was dwarfed by last year's estimated 2,500 attendees and the 1,500 or so who showed up in 2009.
Ken Mandile of Webster, leader of the Worcester Tea Party, said he thought the small crowd resulted largely from the Patriot's Day holiday when most people had to work, lack of a headline speaker, and no major galvanizing national event even though the government's near-shutdown earlier this month was a big tea party cause.
David Manning, 25, of Worcester, had another idea about the cause of the sparse crowd.
“It just seems like it's running out of steam in Worcester,” said Mr. Manning, who was a field director for the campaign of U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester.
Contact Shaun Sutner by e-mail at email@example.com.
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