Both supporters and dissenters gathered at the Lincoln Park gazebo on Thursday at 6 p.m. to hear the remarks of speakers from the Galesburg Tea Party. Among the crowd were Knox students and local residents.
Across the lawn of Lincoln Park, signs displayed similar themes such as “fiscal responsibility, limited government, free enterprise.” These three subjects were the most prevalent among matters being discussed at Galesburg’s first Tea Party rally. The crowd responded with fervor to such cries as “take back our government!”
Federal spending was the main concern among the supporters at the rally. Many expressed their concern over the current and future deficit, citing their children and grandchildren as the reasons that they were at the rally. A poster that was circulating had a picture of a little girl holding a sign that said, “I am already 35,000 dollars in debt.”
According to their website, jointheteaparty.us, the Tea Party movement began in 2009 as a response to a series of bills passed by the federal government, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as well as a number of health care reform bills. Various speakers made reference to the national debt, about 13 trillion dollars.
“I’m tired of the way things are going,” said Brenda Schubbe, Galesburg resident. “I don’t like all of the spending. I don’t think we should be doing what we’re doing.”
Not everyone present was in support of the rally, as quite a few came to silently voice their opposition to the Tea Party Movement.
Knox College was represented at the rally by the Alliance for Peaceful Action (APA), which brought 17 students to show their opposition. Junior Rosie Worthen, president of APA, was happy with the turnout and the presence that they displayed.
“The APA was created in 2001 to protest the Iraq War. We continue to stand for human rights around the world,” said Worthen. “We feel that this movement [Tea Party] represents a group of close-minded people. There is not just one solution to the problems that our country faces. We are going to have to get through them together.”
In addition to Knox students, quite a few local residents expressed their aversion to the movement.
“They have copyrighted the words ‘patriot’, ‘God’, and ‘Jesus’ to fit their own agenda,” Luz Schick said. “I am here to show a presence of loyal opposition to the Tea Party.”
This was Schick’s first protest in over 30 years, but she did not go unnoticed. Sitting in the third row, she drew attention from many, as she was dressed as a character from Alice in Wonderland, citing the infamous tea party scene from the popular children’s story.
In addition to those dressed in costumes, the Boilermakers Local 60 Union made their presence felt by silently holding up signs that read “Free trade is not fair trade.”
“I don’t like hypocrites, and I found it hard to believe that the professor got up there and spoke about less government handouts,” Kirk Cooper, assistant business manager to the Local 60, said. “I would have liked to see a show of hands of how many of this crowd are drawing social security. If they gave up their social security, then they would have room to talk about less government spending.”
Many felt frustrated with the fact that the Tea Party was using future generations, as well as past, as a way to legitimize their actions.
“I have kids and grandkids, and I want to see them have a future too,” said one man who wished to remain anonymous. “These clowns cite revolution in the name of our founding fathers, but instead this is a 180 degree shift from what the original tea party was all about. You think Thomas Jefferson said ‘Grab your lawnchairs, we’re about to have a revolution?’”
While there was a noticeable difference of opinions among the people in the crowd, the general discourse and etiquette was very cordial. The last speaker thanked the protestors for their respectful demonstration.