At Asheville’s version of the Tax Day Tea Party, they chanted. They cheered. They phoned the White House. And above all, the 500-plus protesters pledged to pull America back from the precipice of out-of-control taxation, spending and insurmountable debt.
Similar protests were held around the country and across Western North Carolina, including Sylva, Franklin and Waynesville. The tea parties — held on the deadline day to file federal income taxes — were promoted by the conservative nonprofit advocacy organization FreedomWorks based in Washington and headed up by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who now works as a lobbyist. The gatherings were also touted by conservative commentators and bloggers, who hit a nerve with people angry and worried over an economy in recession and the response in government spending.
Filling the steps of the Buncombe County Courthouse Wednesday evening, the group cheered on speakers who talked about state sovereignty, stopping wasteful government spending, reining in an escalating national debt and protecting the U.S. Constitution. A number of people carried handmade signs with messages such as “Stop Obam-unism + Over-taxation” and “Taxed Enough Already.” Some came dressed as patriots. One woman was decked out as Lady Liberty.
Speakers included Bernard Carman, the former head of the local Libertarian Party; a retiree; a small business owner; Paul Perdue, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for a state House seat in Buncombe County last year; and organizer Erika Franzi, a political activist and mother of four in Weaverville.
At one point, a speaker asked everyone to pull out their cell phone and call the White House, as well as Rep. Heath Shuler, to register their displeasure with government spending. Franzi urged the crowd to keep up their activism by getting involved in local elections, contacting their elected officials and keeping the energy of the protest alive. Franzi said she’s planning another rally for July Fourth.
Click here to see a photo gallery of the event.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor