By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
There will be no tea-dumping in the Potomac River -- that's illegal -- but organizers of the national tea party tax protests say they plan to dump a million tea bags in Lafayette Square today to demonstrate displeasure at government spending and tax policies.
Protesters plan to place the tea bags on tarps and clean up afterward, an organizer said.
The tea, which will be delivered by truck, has been purchased online by people upset over recent government policy, said John Gauger, a spokesman for the grass-roots conservative group Reagan.org.
Volunteers will take the bags from their boxes and pile them in the square. "We've never done this before," he said. But "it's going to be a large pile . . . a great big old pile of citizen dissent."
The Lafayette Square rally, and another outside the U.S. Treasury, are part of what is billed as a nationwide protest against the Obama administration's economic policies, which critics say have plunged the country deeper into debt and increased taxes and government regulation.
Rebecca Wales, lead organizer of the local protests, said the Lafayette Square rally will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will serve as a forum for citizens to voice their grievances.
The Treasury protest will provide a national stage for speeches by such figures as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform; former presidential candidate Alan Keyes; and Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. That rally will run from noon to 2 p.m.
Similar protests are scheduled in Annapolis, Frederick, Reston and Woodbridge.
Wales said they are among 700 such rallies scheduled today across the country. "This is the largest grass-roots demonstration in history," she said. The events seek to emulate protests of the Revolutionary War era, in which ship cargoes of tea were dumped overboard by colonists chafing at British rule.
Wales said protesters are angry at, among other things, government bailouts of industry, the economic stimulus package and congressional earmarks. "It runs the gamut," she said.
"People really need to know what to do next," she said, adding that elections are "not that far away. People need to see that there are alternatives to this administration."