Local Tea Party Group Gears Up for Events
Moore County’s tea party group is preparing for two major events this month.
Moore TEA Citizens, the area’s local extension of the national tea party movement, has grown rapidly since its inception about a year ago. It will host a forum featuring more than 20 political candidates Saturday at Sandhills Community College.
Next Thursday, April 15, it will reprise its well-attended Tax Day demonstration in front of the Southern Pines post office. The event drew a crowd estimated at 1,000 people last year.
Moore TEA Citizens coordinator Dee Park said she is expecting another big turnout this year.
“There’s going to be a big crowd again this year,” she said. “We’re excited about that. I think people are going to be making signs — some are already hard at work, thinking about what they want to say that day.
“We’ll have the megaphones out, probably more than what we had last year because so many people want to speak, sing and salute the flag, and generally let Washington and Raleigh know how we feel about what’s coming at us.”
The Tax Day event will last from 4 to 7 p.m.
That same day, other Moore TEA Citizens will travel by bus to Washington to take part in the national Tax Day demonstration, which includes a series of activities at the Capitol, Washington Monument and congressional office buildings.
For the candidate forum Saturday, Carol Wheeldon, another Moore TEA Citizen, said that the group has invited all of the candidates running for elected office that serve the county. She stressed that the forum is not a debate, but rather an opportunity for voters to hear directly from the candidates.
Those who are participating in the forum will be given about five minutes to talk about themselves and why they’re running. Later, they will take questions from the audience.
It will be held at Owens Auditorium from 1 to 4 p.m.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Wheeldon said. “It’s getting much bigger than I thought it was going to be.”
So far, candidates for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Moore County Board of Education, Moore County Board of Commissioners and state Senate, among others, have signed on to participate.
Park said her group is very pleased with the reaction from the candidates.
The group held a gathering at Pinehurst’s Village Hall on March 27 to make signs and to see a film of the Sept. 12, 2009, march on Washington. Park said a million people — including folks from Moore TEA Citizens — joined the rally.
“It was unforgettable,” she said.
The group also participated in a demonstration the weekend of March 20 in response to the health-care reform bill.
Both Wheeldon and Park disputed reports that tea party participants were out of control and hurling racial slurs at African-American lawmakers. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, of Missouri — a member of the Congressional Black Caucus — said he was spit on.
“Our group was spread out on three [office] buildings,” Wheeldon said. “The folks that were there — these are everyday folks. There were families there with up to four different generations from great-grandma down to her great-grandkids. These are not the kind of folks that would allow that type of thing to go on.”
She said that the protest was the loudest she had heard since getting involved in the movement, mainly because Washington leaders haven’t listened to their phone calls in the past. But she said it was “very civil.”
“What I saw was none of what has been portrayed,” Park added. “We did not encounter those kinds of confrontations.”
Park said she has learned after speaking with Capitol police that paid agitators are a common presence at tea party events.
“We have met some of the finest Americans one could ever meet, of all ages and stages,” she said, “but all with one purpose — to say ‘no’ to Washington, to the outrageous bills that are coming out and the moves to move our country far to the left.”
Contact John Krahnert III by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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