An estimated 2,000 people braved cold, wet, snowy conditions on April 15th in downtown Salt Lake City to join in the National Tax Day Tea Party rally, in protest against wasteful government spending and taxes. The 2,000 estimate was provided by the Salt Lake Tribune; others, such as the Deseret News, estimated 1,000 to 1,200. Media stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune, KUTV Channel 2 (with video), KSTU Channel 13 (with video), and KSL Channel 5. KSL video embedded below:
Protestors perched on planters or huddled under umbrellas as speakers decried federal bailouts of failing banks and companies, mounting federal debt and elected officials who are out of touch. Typical of individual reaction was Salt Lake City business owner Dennis Kasparian, who's angry over the disconnect between elected officials and frustrated constituents struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Utah Democrats, embarrassed at being out of sync with the greater community, attempted to spin the rally as being orchestrated by right-wing radio, and claim that protestors are ignoring that the Bush Administration added trillions to the national debt.
Protestors repeatedly booed Utah Senators Orrin Hatch (who released a statement in support of the protestors) and Bob Bennett for being part of the problem, and also chastised Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. for not sending back $1.6 billion of stimulus money the state is expected to receive. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, exploring a possible 2010 Republican primary challenge to Senator Bennett, said that Utahns no longer need government wiping their noses and putting Band-Aids on their boo-boos. "The time for talk is over. Now is the time for action", said Shurtleff. "Don't give us your entitlement. Don't take care of us. Get out of our lives and let us take care of ourselves".
Third District Congressman Jason Chaffetz showed up and was fired up. "I've got to tell you, I'm fired up. No more bailouts, no more stimulus!" said Rep. Chaffetz. "We cannot be all things to all people in this country. We can't keep running this country on a credit card". Justifying his concern is the fact that the Federal budget deficit is projected to reach $1.75 trillion this year, driven to record levels by repeated stimulus and bailouts. And that's merely the deficit - the actual national debt is nearly ten times higher.
Further fueling the protests is the release of a Department of Homeland Security report which effectively concludes that those who oppose abortion, gun control, higher taxes, and mass immigration are all prospective terrorists. The report focuses solely on so-called "threats" from the right, and addresses no prospective threats from the left. It could have been personally written by Morris Dees itself, since it precisely replicates the agenda of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to the TaxDayTeaParty website, other Tea Party rallies in Utah were scheduled for Levin, Logan, Provo, Richfield, and St. George, although the UtahTeaParty website indicates there could be more. The Provo Daily Herald has yet to report on the Provo event, but published an editorial in which they identified Barack Obama's spend-and-grab philosophy as fueling this movement. Obama spends money like a drunken sailor, and is attempting an unprecedented power grab, perhaps even exceeding that of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On April 16th, media stories about other Tea Parties around the state appeared:
-- Salt Lake Crawler's Glen Warchol provides his usual snarky and pro-left biased assessment of the Salt Lake Tea Party HERE.
-- The St. George Spectrum now reports that an estimated 2,500 people attended the Southern Utah Tea Party held at Dixie State College in St. George. State Senator Steve Urquhart was in attendance.
-- The Ogden Standard-Examiner reports that 150 people showed up at the Ogden Tea Party. The Weber County Forum also provides some additional perspective.
-- The Provo Daily Herald provided no specific crowd estimate, but only stated that "hundreds" showed up in Provo.
-- The Logan Herald-Journal also published an April 16th story on the Logan protest, but did not provide a crowd estimate.