Protesters hold 'tax day tea parties'

Matt Poole
Published: .
Updated: .

Lafayette and Indianapolis - Protesters took part in a "tax day tea party" protest Wednesday in Lafayette, with more events scheduled in Indiana cities throughout the day.

Thousands of people gathered on the Indiana Statehouse lawn for a protest in Indianapolis later in the afternoon.

The word "enough" was everywhere - on signs handed out by organizers, spelled out in red, foam letters behind a country music band, on the homemade signs held by protesters.

Wednesday's protest, which state police estimated drew 2,000 to 2,500 people, was part of a series of tax day protests across the country. Nationally, organizers said the movement developed organically through online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through exposure on Fox News. Organizers said the Statehouse rally was the brainchild of a small group of Indianapolis residents who say they are nonpartisan.

Protesters complained that government spending puts the nation's children in debt before they're even old enough to pay taxes.

Ten-year-old Benjamin Ruddle of Indianapolis held a sign that said, "I'm 10 years old ... please stop spending my money."

Indianapolis small business owners Ben and Bree Finegan brought their two children, 2-year-old Kate and 9-month-old Jackson. Two-year-old Kate held a sign from her stroller reading, "In diapers & in debt."

Ben Finegan said the family, all first-time protesters, came out to show their disdain for lack of government help for small businesses and overspending that could jeopardize his childrens' future.

Pointing toward his kids, he said, "They're giving up on their future for temporary gains."

Several people wore Revolutionary War-era costumes and attached tea bags to hats and signs as a symbolic nod to the Boston Tea Party.

"Tea Party" talking points include returning to the founding principles of the US Constitution. The group is also against bailouts and argues that bankruptcy eliminates "ineffecient and unprofitable businesses." The group wants more tax cuts and also protests wasteful government spending.

Matt Poole is the protest co-organizer for the Lafayette event. Poole said the plan was to pour tea into the Wabash River "as a symbol of protest - the same thing our forefathers did...237 years ago. They're doing that really to bring awareness of a government that has really grown out of control federally. The power should rest in the local governments."

Poole talked about HCR 50, a concurrent resolution which has been signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The resolution claims that some recent federal proposals hamper states' rights to govern themselves and reaffirms the 10th Amendment, which guarantees states' rights to govern themselves.

There has been some concern from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management over plans to dump tea in the river, as well as groups that spend time cleaning up the river.

"While I understand their concern and I do apologize if that offends and hurts people, this is a very good way to get the word out there and do some civil disobedience to let people know about a greater cause," Poole said.

Organizer Donn Brown told the crowd he was ready to pollute, a reference to complaints from environmentalists that the tea-bag protest would trash the river.

After the Lafayette protesters dumped hundreds of teabags in the river, workers from IDEM fished the teabags out with nets.

Eyewitness News also spoke with other protesters in Indianapolis Wednesday morning.

"Our main theme is, Congress, repeal the stimulus package and uphold the constitution of the united states or we will begin to replace each member of congress in 2010," said Laura Behney, organizer.

The organizers said the federal government has strayed from the original constitution.

"We're going to saddle our children with all this debt, and certainly our government is changing, call it socialism, fascism, whatever 'ism' you want to call it, it's certainly not the free capitalistic society we were founded on," said Richard Behney, organizer.