Tea Party activists and opponents rally in downtown Issaquah
April 20, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Tea Party activists came to downtown Issaquah on a cloudy afternoon last week to brew discontent with the policies of Congress and the Obama administration.
Issaquah and Eastside residents gathered for about 90 minutes for the Tea Party rally and a smaller counter-rally organized by the 5th District Democrats. The dueling events attracted about 120 people — about 100 for the Tea Party rally and about 20 Democrats.
Participants held aloft colorful signs at the corner of Front Street and Sunset Way to cacophony of honks as drivers passed the intersection. Others carried U.S. and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags — a yellow banner with a coiled snake and a symbol of anti-government protest.
Issaquah resident Tim Ooyman said he attended the Tea Party rally to protest federal spending and the way President Obama and lawmakers handled the healthcare-reform bill.
“The silent majority needs to stop being silent,” he said.
Ooyman and other activists picked April 15 — the federal deadline for filing income-tax returns — for the rally. Local activists also held events in Bellevue and Seattle. Washington State Patrol officials estimated the Tea Party crowd at the state Capitol in Olympia at 3,000 people.
Despite the presence of a counter-rally, fewer people gathered in downtown Issaquah than last April 15, when more than 200 people turned out on the City Hall steps for a Tea Party protest.
Issaquah resident Peggy Johnson said she had not attended a political rally before last week. Concerns about the size of the federal deficit and federal spending prompted her to travel downtown for the Tea Party event.
“I’m angry about what they’re doing not only to the country, but to my family, my children and my grandchildren,” she said.
Tea Party activists waved homemade signs with messages, such as “Give me liberty, not debt” and “Are you better off now than you were $4 trillion ago?” — a play on a campaign slogan used by Ronald Reagan. Democrats countered with signs scrawled with the Obama campaign emblem and “Health care is a BFD” — a reference to the off-color remark Vice President Joe Biden made before Obama signed the healthcare-reform bill into law last month.
“I love Joe Biden,” Robyn Scola said with the poster in her hands. “And you know what? Healthcare is a BFD.”
Scola, a member of the 5th District Democrats board and a Klahanie resident, donned a long-sleeved Obama campaign T-shirt against the April chill.
Despite the presence of the opposing groups on the same street corners, participants tangled only in tame disagreements about Medicare and Social Security payments.
Kate Kaluzny, a former Issaquah City Council candidate, distributed red handbills with a message to encourage the activists to become involved in local government agencies.
Kaluzny recalled how she attended a Seattle protest against the economic stimulus bill last February. She brought the same hand-lettered “Don’t bankrupt the U.S.A.” sign to the Issaquah rally.
“I’m concerned about government spending, that it’s terribly out of hand and that it doesn’t bode well for the economic security of future generations,” she said.
On the Web
Watch a video of the Issaquah Tea Party rally and a counter-rally here.