04/16/10 — Tea for 200+

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Tea for 200+

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 16, 2010 1:46 PM

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Ann Sullivan chants "November is coming" during the second annual Tea Party Rally in downtown Goldsboro. Members of the Tea Party voiced their displeasure with big government and wasteful government spending.

It was advertised as the second annual Tea Party Rally, but to any unsuspecting person who happened by City Hall Thursday afternoon it might have seemed more like a Republican Party rally -- five of the eight speakers were GOP candidates.

Regardless of what it was called, the speakers and the more than 200 people in attendance left no doubt what their message was -- displeasure with state and national leaders on taxes, wasteful spending, health care and what they foresee as the country's slide into socialism.

They also promised to put their words into action at the polls in November, but did not offer any specific solutions as to how they would accomplish their goals.

Police blocked off the east side of North Center Street in front of City Hall as the crowd, many holding protest signs or U.S. flags, spilled out onto the street.

The event, sponsored by Citizens for Constitutional Liberties, was one of many being held across the state and nation Thursday.

The crowd responded with catcalls when master of ceremonies Bill Johnston told those toting flags not to go to Raleigh that afternoon and expect to carry their flag since police had decided flagpoles longer than one foot would not be allowed.

They cheered when Johnston announced near the end of the rally that he had received word that police had rescinded that rule.

Candidates who spoke were Jerry Grimes and Ashley Woolard, U.S. House District 1; District 12 state Sen. David Rouzer; DeAnn Poirier, House District 21; and District 11 state Rep. Efton Sager. Also speaking were Johnston, Roy Coradato of the John Locke Foundation and Chris Farr of Americans for Prosperity.

"We are a group of concerned citizens for limited government and Constitutional priorities," said Linda Harper, one of the rally organizers. "We just believe our country needs to get back to following the Constitution. We are not a protest group. We are praying for our country and trying to offer some solutions for some of the deficit problems. We are concerned about the debt and unfunded liabilities, which are now $137 trillion, which is up from $99 trillion in January.

"I think the whole country is concerned about the deficit. There is just a lot of concern for our country right now. Again, we are not protesting taxes or anything like that. We would just like to see financing managed a little bit differently."

A wide range of ages from young adults to senior citizens were represented in the almost totally white crowd.

Mrs. Harper, a retired teacher, said the tea parties are made up of people from all walks of life, who have a concern for their children and their grandchildren.

"I am not a protester," she said. "I am not anti-government. I just wanted to let my voice be heard. One of the best things about this tea party movement when I have said I need something somebody was right there -- whatever I needed. I haven't done this by myself."

Maylon Travis was at the event with his 86-year-old mother, Betty Travis, and sister, Simone Mayford

"I came to the other one (last year)," Mrs. Travis said. "I think it is wonderful if we could just turn things around because things are really bad. I wish I could go to Raleigh (tonight), but I can't. I like what I heard. I just hope that in November we can change things."

Travis said that everything is calm and laid back for the tea party events.

"The tea party people aren't like that (violent)," he said. "We just want to make a change by voting. That is the way to make the change, not doing the people harm. Nobody in the tea party does harm."

"The people I know are not vicious people," Mrs. Travis said. "I had a wonderful time. If they have another event, I will be right here as long as the good Lord lets me keep going."

Elaine Kirk of Goldsboro said Thursday's event was her first tea party activity and that she would be interested in attending other tea party events.

"I thought it was great," she said. "It really made me appreciate our country and those people who are willing to stand up and be counted, and I want to be one of those.

"I was impressed with the way people running for office spoke and their beliefs in America and freedom. I thought it was a pretty good crowd, but I was hoping for more."

Christina Bernier of Wade, just outside of Fayetteville, was there with her two children, ages 6 and 2.

"I brought her (6-year-old daughter) here to see democracy in action," she said. "I think it is good to start early. Let them know right now we have free speech because of the sacrifices of our forefathers and Constitution. I don't know how much longer that will last the way things are going. I wanted her to be here. It is historic, and it is exciting."

Mrs. Bernier said she decided she wanted to come to Goldsboro because she would not be able to attend the rally planned that afternoon in Fayetteville.

"I was just thrilled to stand near people who feel the way that I do," she said. "I was happy to see so many people come out and support it. It is about where our country is going and it is headed in the wrong direction and our Congress needs to listen to us."

Mrs. Bernier said her husband, who is stationed with the Air Force at Pope Air Force Base, is preparing to leave for Afghanistan within the week.

"I feel like he is fighting for a country right now where the government doesn't listen to its people," she said. 'That bothers me. Praise God for (the tea party) because I am glad people got up and realized that if we don't stand up and get out there in numbers it's going to keep going the way it is going.

"I think the reasons we have had to have tea parties is that too many people thought this can never happen in our country and when they saw that it could they decided we had better get up now and act and act soon."

Mrs. Bernier said she hopes the momentum continues and that there is no short-term memory in November.

"I hope that if the economy improves that people don't start thinking, 'the economy is getting better let's voting in them Democrats.' Let's stay conservative and take back the greatness that we once were."