Thursday, April 16, 2009

Minnesota Tea Party: Right-Wing or American Issue

April 15th is a day that every American dreads as the preparation of tax forms are finalized and sent in to the IRS. In St. Paul additional activities took place on the steps of the Minnesota State Capital building. Exercising the right to assembly, nearly 10,000 people assemble to mark April 15th with a “Tea Party”. The crowd began to gather around 2:30 pm and stayed until well past 8:00 pm. Prior to the kick off by Master of Ceremony Sue Jeffers; several conversations took place from excessive taxation to the mounting debt that will burden future generations of Americans.

Many came armed with signs, slogans, and cloaked in garb from 1773. Below are several signs being carried:




Even an Anti-Bush Sign presented itself.



The crowd was reported at the rally to be near 10,000 while Star Tribune reports only 2000 people showed and the Minnesota Tea Party site reported 7500. The true count is probably somewhere in between. The vast majority of crowd was white and was a strong mix between men and women. In an unofficial straw poll of mine (125 people), 80% of the group voted for McCain and 15% voted for Obama. 10% of the group was liberal. 25% of those asked were at their first rally. The oldest person found was 82 year old while the youngest was a two year old.

Here are some pictures from the crowd:



Several speakers spoke over an hour and half ending with KTLK Radio show host Chris Baker. Jim Schottmuller, 2008 Ramsey County Commissioner candidate, said during his speech the he was called to action after learning of a vote by Ramsey County Commissioners panel of a 25% pay raise to an annual income of $80,000. Mr. Schottmuller challenged the crowd to not stop with the Minnesota Tea Party but to run for office, be an activist, and/or freedom. The continuation of the grassroots campaign of the Tea Party was echoed throughout the speakers. A website has been established to continue the campaign as well. http://www.aftertheteapary.com/.

Other speakers were Scott Nehring (average citizen), John Salsbury (Constitution Party of Minnesota Veterans Coalition Co-Chairman), Stephen Parente (PhD economist), Barb Davis White (conservative African-American), Twila Brase (health care rights advocate), Harold Hamilton (Anoka County watchdog), Dave Thompson (KSTP radio talk show host), and Bill Jungbauer (2010 State Senate candidate). Full transcripts of what all speakers said can be seen at http://www.teapartymn.com/.

The crowd was very interactive with shoots of support and wit. Chants of U.S.A broke out after Jim Schottmuller spoke. No clashed took place. No burning of cars or breaking of glass took place. The crowd was respectful of each other’s point of view and at one point a man’s wedding ring was turned in. The gentleman who lost his ring did say a few words upon retrieving it and thank the crowd. The reason given for the lost ring is the gentleman has been losing weight.

Chris Baker ended the speeches by inviting everyone to the annual May 2nd anti-tax rally.