Attendees climbed playground equipment Wednesday at the southwest corner of Lincoln Park for a view as a crowd estimated by organizers of approximately 3,000 people heard a series of speakers take aim at President Barack Obama.

“How many people have been screaming at the television the past few months?” organizer Todd Braley yelled into a public-address system, which blasted several songs, including Twisted Sister’s 1980s rock anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“You are just real people, and you look to be real mad,” Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland told a boisterous crowd.

Wednesday’s tax protest was a “TEA Party,” the acronym standing for Taxed Enough Already, one of the many rallies in cities nationwide with anti-tax slogans and criticism of recent government spending. The “tea parties” were inspired by the Boston Tea Party, a colonial-era protest against British taxation.

Dennis White, a spokesman for gjresult.com, the local group behind the rally in Grand Junction, estimated the crowd was pushing 500 people by 11 a.m., a full hour before the event’s scheduled

By late afternoon, White said a sign-up table had gathered 2,723 signatures.

“We had to run to Kinkos for more sign-up sheets,” White said.

City spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said parks and recreation staff estimated the crowd at approximately 2,000 people. In an application filed in March to reserve city property for the rally,
White at the time projected a turnout of 60 people, according to Rainguet.

Many people Wednesday sported tea-bag headgear and carried homemade signs.

A Craigslist classified advertisement for Wednesday’s rally, posted by organizers, urged attendees to avoid profanity on their signs, and they requested “no weapons please.”

“I watched all the hippies protest, and now they’re in charge,” said Lee Porter, 70, a retiree from Fruita who showed up with a pair of tea bags hanging from his eyeglasses.

A series of sign-up sheets showed visitors from Rangely and Moab, as well as Delta’s Beth Fletcher. The 65-year-old sat in a lawn chair and held a sign reading, “DHS defined right-wing extremist ... fair tax now.”

“I’m definitely going to be paying more taxes under Obama,” Fletcher said.

On what is normally a dour day for those people scrambling to file their taxes before the midnight deadline, Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis said, “This is the happiest I’ve ever been on April 15. The silent majority has officially woke up.”

Cal Bilger, 68, of Grand Junction, brought his .69-caliber antique Revolutionary War rifle to protest what he called creeping “socialism” and runaway spending.

“God created all of us, but he didn’t create us all equal,” Bilger said, explaining his opposition to socialism.


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