COLUMBIA — Hundreds of protesters gathered in Flat Branch park Thursday to protest the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the "stimulus bill." The tea party was inspired by the 1773 Boston Tea Party, an event aimed to protest the idea of taxation without representation.
Several protesters and public figures spoke in the park gazebo, including Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who addressed the protesters via phone, and former state Rep. Ed Robb.
“There need to be tax cuts,” Kinder said. Kinder urged the protesters to participate in the grassroots activities that coincide with the Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party occurring in major cities on April 15.
Robb took the stage and shared his expertise and opinion on the $787 billion stimulus package.
“As an economist, the strategy that Obama has chosen hasn’t worked in the past, and it is probably the worst strategy that could've been chosen," he said.
Protesters from 2 to 70 years old joined the festivities. Nearly all brought tea and several made posters. Others sported traditional colonial attire and a few brought pitchforks. No matter what their means of expression, those who gathered wanted to send a message: The stimulus is hindering the nation, and something needs to be done about it.
When Linda Porath, 65, heard of the event she took action. She called newspapers and radio stations to spread the word.
Porath, like many of the protesters, is worried that more power is being taken from the people.
“We're losing more rights everyday,” she said
Porath was impressed by the turnout and passion shown by fellow protesters.
Eric Pope, 12, and his father, Tony Pope, 30, participated in the event.
“They’re spending too much money,” Eric said. His father made a poster that said, “Stop the bailouts/stimulus; Fire Washington.”
After leaving work early for the protest, Van Wills, 37, said, “It’s a good thing that I came out here, cause I can’t do anything else to voice my opinion."
Many protesters chose to express themselves with posters.
Gary Russel, 56, made a sign that read: “War on Success Conscientious Objector.” Russell has T-Shirts with the slogans in production.
“I decided that yelling at the TV doesn’t help, I wanted to do something about it,” Russell said.
Clint Matthews, 26, came out because he is worried. He says spending is what got us in economic trouble.
“You can't solve the problem by doing the same thing that started it,” he said.
The protest concluded when Tom Bradley, morning host on KSSZ/93.9, put a few bags of tea in the Flat Branch Creek.
"We're just going to put a little bit of tea in the creek," he said as the protesters cheered.
KSSZ plans to send the tea to state and national officials.
“It was better than I expected,” radio personality Gary Nolan said. "A highlight was looking out and seeing the community come together and the passion of the protesters."