Digital News Report– Dozens gathered in front of the post office in downtown Santa Cruz today to make their opinions on taxes heard loud and clear by all those who passed by. Most of the protesters were part of the national Tax Day Tea Party, which chose tax day specifically to voice concerns over what they feel is excessive taxation by our government. A few feet away from the protest a sign next to ongoing road construction proudly read, “Your Tax Dollars At Work.”
For many, this was the first time they protested for any cause. Connie Atkins, 82, was among the group of freshman protesters. “I don’t like what’s going on with spending huge amounts of money,” she said. “And [I don’t like] being in debt forever.” She brought with her a teapot filled with teabags, which she planned on mailing to her local congressman after the protest had finished. Several protesters have sent the teabags as a statement about excessive taxation, which is a reference to the 1773 Boston Tea Party.
Others, such as John Houlgate, who was active in Ron Paul’s campaign for president, protested last year as well. According to Houlgate there were only about 20 people last year. This year’s protest appeared to have nearly tripled in size. He has also attended other protests such as “End the Fed” rallies and other tax day protests.
“[This is] not a protest against Obama,” Houlgate said. “We are out here because we’re objecting to an institutional structure that is corrupt and deprives us of our liberties.” For Houlgate, “[It doesn’t] matter who is in power… People have the right to the fruits of their own labor.”
The Tea Party protesters were not the only group who decided to take advantage of the last minute tax filers who were rushing to the post office on Tax Day. The Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF) had a booth set up on the other side of the post office entrance complete with delicious baked goods, fliers, and penny jars with labels such as “healthcare” and “environment” printed on them. The women of WILPF encouraged people to put a penny in the jar that they felt was most important.
WILPF wasn’t there to protest taxes, however, but rather where our tax dollars are spent. A pie chart on one of their fliers showed that nearly 51% of the government’s spending goes to current and past military spending. According to Jan Harwood, a member of WILPF, they show up every tax day to get their message out. Harwood stated that she would like to see tax dollars going towards more social services and less towards the military.
One last minute tax filer, Sandino Gomez, a worker for the Resource Center for None Violence, stood by and observed the protests. He stated that he agreed with some of the protesters’ views on taxes, but didn’t understand some of the nationalism that seemed to be on some of the signs. He pointed out one sign that expressed fear over California becoming part of Mexico as an example.
One passing driver stopped in the turn lane, rolled down his window, and shouted, “Revolution comes at the barrel of a gun! Assassinate a couple of politicians to send your message!” His statements were mostly met with nervous boos, though several in the crowd cheered.
As the protest wore on into the early evening, the numbers began to dwindle, but the enthusiasm for the cause remained strong. The crowd was well stocked with fliers, DVDs, magazines, and newspapers even after more than five hours of protesting. The ladies of WILPF were gone by 5:00, but the team of Tea Partiers continued to elicit honks, shouts, and cheers from passing motorists as tax day began to come to a close.