Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Local 'Tea Partiers' Prepare for Tax Day Protest

"The time has come in this country where we're losing our rights on a daily basis," said Joanne Wilder, organizer for the CNY Patriots, as she stopped briefly to talk during her busy day Wednesday preparing Thursday's protest.

When Tea Party organizations began to spring up across the country last year, Wilder decided it was important to start one in Central New York as well. The results of her work showed at Monday's Tea Party Express Rally in downtown Syracuse. Hundreds of people gathered in Clinton Square to protest President Obama's health care reform bill, but one protest in a week isn't enough for her. She says she's hoping just as many people show up to Thursday's 4 p.m. protest against taxes at the Federal Building.

"I've sent emails out all day long to those people to tell them that we started this fire burning in Syracuse; we have to continue," Wilder said. "I'm just hoping they all show up again tomorrow."

But Wilder isn't all on her own as she plans the second annual Tax Day Tea Party Protest, which she says will include music, speakers addressing the topics of health care and amnesty, and a time for the public to address their concerns with the way government is going. Randy Potter has helped a lot, she says. Potter first got involved when he attended Wilder's Tax Day Tea Party Protest last year, and he says he hasn't missed a Tea Party event since then.

"The movement, it seems to me, is gaining strength as we go along," Potter says. "With each passing day we get more members, and since the health care legislation, there's so many people who are so upset about this health care legislation. So we're gaining momentum all the time."

Those who disagree with the Tea Party movement aren't exactly standing by and watching. Monday's rally against health care also brought Obama supporters from the local chapter of Organizing for America. They stood at the opposite side of the block from the Tea Party protestors, holding "Yes We Can" signs and other signs in support of the health care bill.

When I asked John Desantis, leader of Organizing for America in Syracuse, whether his organization would be counter-protesting again at Thursday's event, he declined to comment. He did put me in touch with the man he called his press person -- Michael Czin.

Czin is the Northeast Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and spoke on behalf of the DNC. He said it's understandable that many Americans are upset about high taxes as the economy is suffering and government spending increased in recent years with the wars oversees. But contrary to what Tea Partiers assert, he says Obama's new health care legislation is cutting taxes for middle class Americans.

"There's a lot of frustration with that government spending, but that's getting reigned in now, and that's the President's feeling," Czin said.

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