Thousands protest at Tea Party rally
Several AU students were among a crowd of a few thousand Thursday when, for the second year in a row, the National Tea Party held a rally on Tax Day to protest what they see as a growing federal government and its bad economic decisions.
The AU College Republicans, among other students, gathered between the White House and the Washington Monument to join the protesters in waving various flags including both traditional American flags and politically-charged flags.
Protesters waved the Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” flag — a yellow flag with a rattlesnake design named for Revolutionary War Colonel Christopher Gadsden that served as one of the U.S. Marine Corps’ early flags — and the “New American Revolution” flag, a thirteen-star flag with the Roman numeral “II” in the middle.
“The main reason we’re here is that Congress is spending money that we don’t have and refuses to acknowledge that fact,” said Paul Bencivenga, a freshman in the School of International Service and a member of the College Republicans.
Other protesters included former members of the military, supporters of people running for office on the Tea Party platform and even a man dressed up in a tar-and-feathers body suit and an elaborate mask combining features of President Barack Obama, the Joker and Fidel Castro.
College Republicans President Michael Monrroy, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, said he was concerned with what he saw as an overextended and irresponsible federal government.
Monrroy said he believes there is a trend that the government is not listening to the people. He cited the recent health care debate as evidence.
“If people don’t speak out against it, it’s just going to continue to hurt our country,” he said.
Monrroy also said the government should return to the Constitution’s basic fundamentals.
“The Constitution was written by our founding fathers,” he said. “I think they had the best interests of this country for the future at that time, and if we go back to those principles ... our country can get back on the right track.”
Stephen Palubinsky, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences came to the protest for both personal and professional reasons, he said. Palubinsky is an intern for the Libertarian Party.
“I’m here simply because I believe we need to limit government,” he said. “This isn’t just about taxation; it’s about large government spending, and that’s just going to happen when you have a big government.”
Palubinsky said he attended a Ron Paul speech on Tax Day in 2008 — before there was ever a Tea Party.
“I saw Ron Paul address a crowd of one to two hundred in 2008, and today I saw him address a crowd of several thousand,” he said.
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