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'TEA party' protest held outside congressman's office

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

More than a dozen demonstrators gathered in Jonesboro on Wednesday evening outside the office of U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) for a "tea party" protest.

While it was an intimate gathering, the protesters joined thousands of fiscal conservatives across the country who were staging similar protests to oppose what they believe is a recent pattern of massive government spending.

David Deering, a Jonesboro resident who organized the tea party using the Internet, said the concept comes from the 1773 Boston Tea Party, in which colonists dumped tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of the British Tea Act. He said the 'TEA' in the modern protests stands for "taxed enough already," and that protesters believe their taxes will soon be raised without their consent.

"I thought it was important to connect it to people locally," Deering said. "Even though the tax hikes haven't started yet, all smart people know that with high spending comes high taxes. It's not just the president that is in charge of spending. It starts with Congress. That's why we wanted to have something small outside of Congressman Scott's office.

On Wednesday, the day federal income-tax returns were due, tea party demonstrators across the nation rallied for the Fair Tax (a proposal to replace all federal income taxes with a single, national sales tax). They also opposed financial bailouts for banks and auto makers, and expressed disapproval of recent government stimulus spending. While many Republicans, and some Libertarians, spearheaded protests in different cities, many protests were billed as a non-partisan actions against wasteful spending.

The Jonesboro event included several Jonesboro city councilmen and a small number of Jonesboro residents. Wearing tea bags and raising handmade signs, the demonstrators stood along Jonesboro's Main Street, receiving occasional honks of approval from passing motorists.

Jonesboro Councilman Roger Grider, one of the protesters, said he joined the effort because he is "unhappy with the government getting involved with private enterprise."

"We wanted to be able to leave our children with a better life, and now we are going to just leave them with debt," he said. "If China ever calls us on our debt, I don't think we'll have the money in the treasury to cover it."

Carolyn Frederick, a Jonesboro resident, said she hopes the protest "will let the people in Washington [D.C.] know how unhappy we are."

"I don't think this is the change people wanted," she said. "I'm hoping that Washington will pay attention, because we will be voting again."

Scott's office was open for regular business hours on Wednesday. Ashley Tanks, press liaison for the Jonesboro office, said the protest was peaceful. She added that Scott was in Africa on business, and that the office had no further comment about the protest.