MANSFIELD — A number of citizens gathered in downtown Mansfield on Wednesday to make the statement that enough is enough. According to several local residents who attended, the crowd numbered between 1,200 and 1,500.
Anti-tax “tea parties” were held throughout the country to protest government spending, high taxes, government bailouts and the economy in general. The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit group based in Washington and led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas.
“The central theme was that everybody pretty much is fed up with Washington, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans,” said Fredericktown resident Willie Pritchett, who attended the Mansfield tea party. “The Democrats are in charge, but the Republicans are going along with this silly stuff.
“It did not turn out to be Republicans vs. Democrats,” he continued. “There were people from all walks of life — Republicans, Democrats, two unions — General Motors and state teachers — and business people.”
Mount Vernon resident Thom Collier agreed.
“It was a very diverse group,” he said. “People weathered the cold and misty rain. People were shivering, but people stayed; very few left early. They were attentive. Many people alluded to the fact that it was not Republican vs. Democrat.”
Collier said if the rally did notthing else, it gathered together people who are of like mind who want to make a statement.
“People understand we are at a critical point in our country,” he said. “They see things aren’t going right and want to be able to do something.
“People just don’t want it to be business as usual,” he continued. “They see we are in a downward spiral, especially in the area of spending, and our individual freedoms are starting to erode.”
Collier said current conditions are not just about President Barack Obama or the Obama administration, although, he said, “it does appear to many of us that it’s perhaps being accelerated.”
Collier and Pritchett agree the out-of-control spending has been going on for quite a while.
“The stimulus package was just pretty much the last straw,” said Pritchett.
A number of signs were visible at the rally, including one which read “I pay my mortgage, who pays yours?” Pritchett said one young boy held a sign stating “Stay out of my piggy bank.” Another sign read “Honk if I’m paying your mortgage.”
“There were a lot of cars honking,” said Pritchett.
At one point, Collier said, when the song “Ain’t Gonna Take It No More” was played, participants poured cups of tea on the ground.
Tyler Fehrman of Mount Vernon was one of the speakers at the rally. Pritchett said Fehrman spoke on behalf of the young people in the country, saying their grandchildren are going to be paying for the current government spending programs.
Pritchett said the tea parties will do some good, if citizens keep them going.
“I think people are upset,” he said. “I haven’t seen this type of grassroots stuff since the Vietnam War. Will it be enough? I don’t know. You have some pretty well entrenched politicians in Washington.”
The rallies are referred to as “Tea Parties” — a name inspired by the Boston Tea Party, in which 18th century American colonists threw tea into Boston Harbor to demonstrate against taxes imposed by the British government.