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Thousands Gather At Capitol 'Tea Party' To Protest Federal Spending

CHRISTOPHER KEATING and DANIELA ALTIMARI

April 16, 2009

An anti-bailout, anti-stimulus "tea party" at the state Capitol in Hartford on Wednesday drew an estimated crowd of 3,000 to protest what they consider excessive government spending on the day that many Americans pay their federal and state taxes.

Chanting "tax enough already" and "free markets, not freeloaders," the crowd was a mixture of young and old from 88-year-old Margaret Jedziniak, the feisty guiding spirit behind the Enfield Taxpayers Association, to a child not yet 2 in a baby stroller.

Evelyn Deleon of New Britain came to the rally with her grandson, Jeremiah, who will turn 2 next month. The child had a sign that read, "I am representing my mommy Jennifer. I want a debt-free future, please."

His mother could not attend.

"She's a single mom, and she's working hard," Deleon said of her daughter. "All three of us, we're trying to support the family. I don't want any more taxes. I don't want any more debt. Enough is enough."

The eclectic crowd included some people carrying American flags and others with signs, including one that said, "Forget The Tea. Pass The Tar and Feathers." Another said, "I'll Keep My Freedom, My Guns, My Money. You Keep The Change."

The gatherings are part of a national movement that takes its name, and much of its imagery, from an iconic event of the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party, during which patriots dumped tea into Boston Harbor to protest British taxation without representation.

The Hartford Tea Party was one of many taking place across the nation Wednesday. In Connecticut, similar protests took place in New Haven, Greenwich and Norwich.

The Tea Party movement took off in February, when CNBC reporter Rick Santelli railed against the federal $787 billion stimulus package. Video of the rant spread on YouTube.

Members of the movement say it is a grass-roots effort that sprung up when citizens grew alarmed about the size and scope of federal spending. Critics say it is an organized and well-funded effort guided by national conservative groups whose aim is to launch sharply partisan attacks on President Barack Obama and the Democrats.

On the same day the protest outside was held, the liberal-leaning Connecticut Voices For Children held its eighth annual state budget forum inside the Capitol. The New Haven-based think tank released a report that said the state's richest residents are not contributing enough to the state's coffers.

"Before Connecticut policymakers make severe state budget cuts that could harm Connecticut families and the economy, they should at least make sure the wealthiest residents are contributing their fair share toward the common good," said Douglas Hall, acting managing director of the think tank and author of the report.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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