A Tax Day Tea Party protest filled much of Kiwanis Park in Brainerd Wednesday night as people denounced high taxes and conducted a ceremonial dumping of tea into Boom Lake.
Brainerd event organizer George Burton, 45, of rural Brainerd, who donned a Revolutionary War era outfit and wig, estimated the crowd at "hundreds" and said he was pleased with the turnout. "This was a good start," he said.
For more than 90 minutes speakers stepped up to the microphone and spoke their mind about topics ranging from taxes to the place of God in America.
Opening speaker David Allan Pundt started off the open mic session and warned the audience to be wary when politicians talked about increased revenue streams and investments.
As part of the Tax Day Tea Party protest Tuesday, people were invited to throw tea bags into Boom Lake at Kiwanis park, a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphery » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"That means watch your wallet," the 2008 Republican candidate for House District 12A said. Pundt is a vice chair on the Crow Wing County Republican Executive Board.
He was one of many Republicans who spoke without claiming to be speaking on behalf of the party.
Julie Dillon of Brainerd said our leaders are not taking care of the people.
"I'm tired of seeing them spending money they don't have," she said.
Tony Bauer, a vice chair of the executive board of Crow Wing County Republican Party, referred to the gathering as a group of patriots, even though "we are in danger of being labeled extremists."
Cari Lucas, deputy chair of the Crow Wing County Republican Party, described the estimated five months that the average taxpayer works to pay the government as slavery. She said two-thirds of what the government spends was not constitutional.
Bob Olson, a Brainerd City Council member, encouraged the crowd to vote and to remember the importance of God.
"Let's get rid of the liberals," he told the audience.
John Crandall warned of the influence of pluralism, political correctness and multi-culturalism and said Americans could lose the freedom to worship as they pleased.
"We don't need big government," he said. "We need capitalism."
Cary Johnson of Pelican Rapids wore a hat with tea bags as trim around the brim when he spoke. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphery » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Maxine Erickson of Wadena said the state of our current leadership can be traced to our not obeying God as we should.
"Our leaders are not under God," she said. "They don't even believe in God."
Tom Kientzle of Nisswa provoked a chorus of "boo's" when he mentioned the name of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken.
Bob Miller of Baxter urged people to attend meetings at the local level of government where "they spend money like drunken sailors."
Dale Walz, a former Republican Minnesota House member, said the federal government was trampling on our rights and turning the United States into the "socialist states of America." Walz is past chair of the Crow Wing County Republican Party.
Doug Kern of rural Brainerd, chair of the Crow Wing County Republican Party, said America was a Christian nation and told how his son was alarmed at a sign at Central Lakes College about a meeting on the Muslim faith in the Mideast and politics.
A young woman said a person is considered a radical if they talk about being a Christian at school.
"Our country is screwed up and they're screwing over my generation," she said. "I'm sick of the corruption. Get all those nutheads out of office."
Hundreds gathered at Kiwanis Park for a Tax Day Tea Party protest. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphery » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Marv Begin, an outspoken critic of Brainerd School District spending, said something must be done to fix the nation's health care system.
Sam Davis, an Alabama resident who is working in the Brainerd area, said the government is subsidizing incompetence with its bailouts.
"We have got to get God back in our government," he said. "The further God gets from out government the less blessed we're going to be."
Cary Johnson of Pelican Rapids wore his hat with a brim that was bedecked with tea bags as he decried a government regulation that made him register and pay a fee to be an independent contractor because he mowed lawns for customers in his retirement.
Paul Gazelka of rural Brainerd and a former Republican House 12A House member, said the large gathering gave him hope for the future.
"We have to stand up," Gazelka said. "We have to do more. We have to organize."
Steve Heinecke of Baxter told the audience that the U.S. was a Christian and God-fearing nation.
The spirited mood was dampened temporarily when the final speaker, Brainerd area resident Ron Huber, 65, suddenly complained of a severe headache. He sat down and health care professionals tended to him until an ambulance transported him to St. Joseph's Medical Center. Huber was in St. Joseph's emergency room and was listed in fair condition Wednesday night.
After Huber was cared for the group walked to the shoreline of Boom Lake where floating buckets labeled "toxic assets" and "UAW bailouts" were set out on the water. All of the objects were retrieved from the lake.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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