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Tax day protests draw large crowds

POSTED: April 16, 2009 1:08 p.m.
Tasha Biggers/The Times

Thousands of protesters holding signs gathered in the streets around the Georgia Capitol on Wednesday for the Tax Day Tea Party.

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Area conservatives rallied in Poultry Park on Wednesday with signs and American flags to participate in Gainesville’s Tea Party.

The Tea Party was sponsored by Liberty Calls.org and was one of many held nationally on tax day to rally against high taxes and government spending.

"This is grassroots conservatism at its best today, right here in Gainesville," said Jeff Jones, founder of LibertyCalls.org. "We are not here to overthrow the government, we are here to restore the government."

The Tax Day Tea Party protests began earlier this year when Rick Santelli, on-air editor for CNBC, ranted against what he called the bankrupt liberal agenda of the White House and Congress, a flawed stimulus bill and a pork-filled budget, according to the Tax Day Tea Party Web site. The rant resulted in the organization of several grassroots tea parties in communities across the country, including 19 in Georgia.

Several thousand demonstrators descended on the Georgia Capitol and Fox News’ pundit Sean Hannity was to broadcast from the Capitol steps Wednesday night, according to the Associated Press.

People lined the streets in Gainesville carrying signs with slogans like: "I’ll keep my freedom, my money and my guns. You can keep the ‘change’ it’s called Socialism." There were even a number of children participating, carrying signs such as one that read: "I’m nine and already in debt," and passing cars honked in support.

Earlier in the day, protesters stood outside the post office on Green Street.

Many, like Michael Paul of Buford, came to the Poultry Park event to voice their concerns about the direction of the country.

"I’m not against anything, I’m for liberty," said Paul, a Vietnam veteran. "I served in the military to protect the country and they’re destroying it. It breaks my heart."

Bruce Cash said he was against bailouts and stimulus spending.

"I feel strongly against the policies of Obama and the Democrats," he said.

Jan Smith of Flowery Branch said she was concerned about how government spending would affect her grandchildren.

"I don’t like that my grandchildren will spend the rest of their lives paying off this debt," Smith said.

Smith said she had never protested in her life, but carried a sign that read: "I’m a concerned granny, not a radical, but I’m not too old to change."

Brandon Givens of the Libertarian Party of Gwinnett and Hall counties said he had mixed feelings about the event.

The Tea Party’s ideals, limited government and low taxes, are principals of the Libertarian party that have recently gotten attention as the direction of the Republican Party has shifted following the presidential election.

"As a Libertarian, we’ve been pushing this for so long," Givens said. "I have mixed hope. I’m handing out cards hoping to organize a Libertarian party so this movement can continue. But this will probably fall apart once the Republicans regain control of the House. They’ll go back to their old tricks."



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