900 tea partiers rally in park on federal tax day

Dressed as Uncle Sam, Chance McCallister walks through a large crowd gathered Thursday evening at Lincoln Park in support of the national tea party movement.

About 900 people who gathered Thursday evening at Lincoln Park cheered as a faux George Washington warned them of the dangers of government to freedom, and they fell silent as a real prisoner of war described his release.

The crowd gathered for the second Tax Day tea party to hear speakers criticize the Democrat leadership of Congress, President Barack Obama, the Republican Party, the Internal Revenue Service and the recently passed health care legislation.

Activist Arvid Mosness, who joked about his Scandinavian background while wearing a Viking helmet complete with horns, got cheers when he called for getting rid of the IRS.

“I told Congress if we have to steal from our countrymen, we do not deserve freedom,” Garry Brewer, dressed as George Washington, said to applause.

One member of the audience, Carla Johnson, said she got knowing nods and thumbs-up gestures for her sign criticizing Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose failure to pay taxes came to light when he was nominated for the post that oversees the IRS.

“It’s a savvy crowd,” Johnson said.

Palisade fruit grower Harry Talbott, once a supporter of U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., is no longer. Salazar has been a “disappointment,” he said.

Talbott was in the right place. Tea partiers lined up to sign a petition to “Send Salazar Packing.” Talbott, however, said he was motivated to attend the tea party for other reasons.

“I want borders, language, culture,” he said.

Jon Caldara of the Golden-based Independence Institute told the tea party he wanted Colorado to be “a sanctuary state” from federal health care legislation. He was seeking signatures to place an initiative on the ballot this fall to let the state opt out.

“I’m asking you to help me save my son’s life,” Caldara said.

The life of his 5-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, would be endangered by the requirements of the health care legislation, Caldara said.

The tea party crowd fell silent as Rod Knutson described his treatment as a prisoner of war for more than seven years in the Hanoi Hilton prison in North Vietnam. He was shot down as a Navy pilot over North Vietnam, he said.

“In the blink of an eye, I had change,” Knutson said.

He was the 13th POW released by North Vietnam and recalled being told by his captors that he would not be welcomed home.

When he saw a red carpet and cheering people at his arrival in the United States, Knutson said, “I was proud. Oh God, I was proud. I was proud of my country.”

A basic for an American, Knutson said to cheers, “should be that we are proud of our country and that we are willing to fight for it.”


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