The Westlake Tea Party: Photos and Stories of How It Really Went Down

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Another Tax Day. Another Tea Party. For over a year, anti-tax demonstrators have been gathering in Westlake Center to let off steam against what they see as excessive government spending and the federal and state politicians who've dug the country further into debt.

If you were hoping for signs of insurrection or civil riots at yesterday's rally, then you were sorely disappointed. No death threats were made to local politicians. No racist signage. And the only snakes that were handled were on the occasional yellow Gadsden flag.

Instead nearly 500 people assembled, carrying signs and - like the song - mostly told themselves "hurray for our side". A look at the history of the local movement, and photos of the rally are after the jump.

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This reporter was one of the first in the country to cover the Tea Party movement whose birthplace was here in Seattle and was the brainchild of math teacher Keli Carender, who blogs as "Liberty Belle" on her Redistributing Knowledge Web site.

Initially the Tea Parties were written off as irrelevant, simply a bit of Astroturf sown by the likes of FOXNews and Glenn Beck. In reality it was an up-by-the bootstraps movement of individuals who had never been to a political rally in their life. More recently, there has been an attempt to link the Tea Party movement to militia groups and--locally--to Charles Alan Wilson, a lone nutcase in Yakima who has been charged for allegedly making repeated death threats against Senator Patty Murray.

If anything, the tone of the Tea Party at Westlake was overly civil, more like a PTA meeting than a crazed group of secessionists hell-bent on correcting the outcome of the Civil War. Perhaps it's just a case of Seattle Nice winning out.

The overall theme was to "Remember in November". Candidates and staff from nearly a dozen races were on hand to mingle, shake hands, and kiss babies. These included U.S. Senate candidate Art Coday, congressional candidates James Watkins and Matthew Burke (running in WA-01), and staffers from Don Benton, Clint Didier and Sean Salazar's Senate campaigns.

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Less than three dozen people showed up to oppose "teh teabaggers". Like their ideological counterparts, they were overwhelmingly white and middle-aged. Unlike their opposites, they seemed more content to hurl obscenities while cobbling together chants like "Fascists, Nazis, KKK. Racists, bigots, anti-gay".

More photos:

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One of the many callow youths protesting the old white Teabaggers...

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One of the evening speakers, Jennifer Burke, who spoke at length about the future of children living without hope. She was joined by radio personalities Dori Monson and Bryan Suits, Amber Gunn of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and initiative kingpin Tim Eyman.

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Of the over threescore homemade signs being toted at Westlake, this reporter only spotted two whose owners need a proofreader.

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Spelling fail...

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If there's a rally, you know KIRO television's Essex Porter will be first on the scene sticking a microphone in someone's face.

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The number of uniformed police officers (tatted and not) providing security at these rallies has diminished with each passing event. Whereas last Tax Day more than fifty Seattle Police on horses, bikes and foot kept a wary eye out for disturbances, about a dozen or so were on hand yesterday. What they lacked in numbers, they certainly made up for in bad ass tattoos. Coincidentally, there were also at least three confirmed cases of people who were pick-pocketed...

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The award for best signage in a non-cardboard category goes to...

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Local entrepreneur David Anderson engages in a little impromptu capitalism by hawking "Coffee and Guns" t-shirts. As an Open Carry enthusiast, Anderson is supporting the coffee giant Starbucks and its decision to abide by state laws allowing gun owners carry firearms into store locations. Seattle Weekly first wrote about the story in February.

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A sentiment that we can all agree on.

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The Wikipedia protester wants you to verify your content.

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Getting them started young.

 
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