BOSTON – About 5,000 people gathered at the Boston Common on Wednesday April 14th, to see a tea party. Thousands of people raised their flags and signs, in support of or against the “Tea Party Express” that was en route to Washington DC on Tax Day.
Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, headlined the event. Addressing the crowd for about 20 minutes, she urged the people of Boston to take a stand against liberals.
“We are the true Americans,” yelled Palin to a crowd that simultaneously applauded in support and booed in disagreement.
After Palin finished speaking, organizers rushed her back into her “Tea Party Express” trailer, where she stayed for the rest of the rally.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson spoke in support of the Tea Party, carrying a revolutionary period American flag, with a Roman numeral two in the middle of it.
“In 2008 someone told me that someone left of Hilary was running,” said Jackson, with her ukulele in hand, “She’s already a socialist—left of that? He must be a communist!”
Jackson spoke and sang to the crowd—which was unanimously laughing, some with her, others at her.
Small arguments broke out during the four-hour rally. Nothing physical was reported, but protesters clashed with tea party members on everything from the war, tax day, healthcare and the right to use the Commons.
“There are liberal infiltrators everywhere,” said a veteran from New Hampshire who declined to give his name, “It would be nice if people just let us do what we want to do.”
No one can be kicked off the Commons, as the nation’s first public park was set up to allow free expression.
Slightly removed from the “Tea Party Express” rally, a group called “The Real Tea Party” was dressed up in colonial costumes, having a tea party.
The protest originally started off as a joke—“What’s a tea party without tea,” questioned Don Nableau from Beverly.
Kathleen Toomey of Gloucester organized the event that started off as a joke on the Boston LiveJournal page, through Facebook.
“It would just have been a shame not to have tea,” said Toomey, “We decided to have a positive party, with elevated discourse.”
Diego Martinez was also in attendance, dressed in a three-piece suit and top hat.
“We just believe in talking about issues,” said Martinez, “and for those who don’t like tea, there is coffee and coco.”
As “The Real Tea Party” continued, “The Tea Party Express” was in full force. Musical numbers popped up during the rally—organizers jumped on stage, belting out songs such as “There is a Communist in the White House,” and “We are the Tea Party Express”. They offered their CD, along with a commemorative magazine for $10.
“…Only Glenn Beck understands me…” crooned Jackson, to an excited crowd, “It’s not fair. 60 percent of people pay taxes while the other 50 percent sit on it!”
One protester threw eggs at one of the Tea Party buses earlier on in the protest. Towards the end of the rally he was caught, but no charges were pressed.
Other protesters showed their dissent by holding up signs—some witty like “Tina Fey Does it Better”—and some mildly offensive like “White People are Angry—RUN.”
Both sides used strong rhetoric to challenge each other’s belief systems and knowledge of the constitution—or The Constitution Made Easy—a text that was widely quoted by the tea partiers.
“I read The Constitution Made Easy and it said we can impeach Obama because he took bribes,” yelled Johnson, while several rally-goers held up their own copied of the book.
The turn out of about 5,000 people was 15,000 less than the “Express” had predicted and 3,000 less than the original police estimate. The event, which was held from 10am until 2pm, was scheduled in the middle of the workweek and the middle of the workday.