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Reflecting on the success of the tea party events held in Albany and Leesburg earlier in the year, officials plan to spend the Independence Day holiday protesting what they say is wasteful government spending.
Organizers from Dougherty, Lee and Sumter counties are joining forces to host a tea party on the Fourth of July in Plains City Park.
"We are all combining efforts on this one," said Mike Sabot, one of the organizers for the event. "We are expecting (the attendance) to be bigger. Anything over 1,000 we will be happy with."
On April 15, tea parties were held at the Dougherty County Courthouse and the Lee County Courthouse, attracting nearly 1,000 protesters between them. Sabot said tea bags collected at the rallies were delivered to government officials, including U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Atlanta. They got little response.
"It is the same premise from April. The situation has gotten worse," he said. "We want to bring the government back under control, and we want to do it without the country being drug into the ground. People are really angry. The federal government doesn't listen."
The festivities are scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Performances are expected from the Gospel group Fellows and Blues Remedy. Appearances are also expected from guest speakers addressing various topics, including the concept of church and state, state rights and individual liberty issues.
"We are trying to educate as many people in the 2nd Congressional District as possible," said Donna Driskell, FreedomWorks volunteer and an organizer for the event. "We are afraid of a loss of personal rights. We hope many people will come."
Officials are also aiming to make the event family friendly with a Constitution Bowl Quiz, history games and tea drinking contests. There is expected to be free watermelon available.
"We encourage people to bring picnic baskets," said Sabot.
Organizations including FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, FairTax and the Republican and Libertarian parties will have tables set up. Educational literature will also be available on cap-and-trade legislation, as well as health care legislation, which Driskell said are among the primary issues she is concerned about.
"It may seem free, but it's not," she said. "We want medical decisions in the hands of doctors."
Several different civic groups have been invited to set up food and beverage booths as fundraisers for their organizations.
One of the other organizers, H.C. Harvey of Sumter County, had a motivation for getting involved that mirrored both Driskell and Sabot.
"I became involved in this grassroots movement when I saw Congress, seemingly out of control with our tax dollars, passing bills they did not read nor understand," he said. "In our area, the economy is suffering and the tax burden is getting even heavier. New taxes are being proposed every day by members of Congress. I see our liberties diminishing each day as our Constitution and Bill of Rights are being trampled by the executive and legislative branches of government."
The protest movement persuaded Harvey to research the political arena, which has led him to believe government officials have overstepped their bonds.
"We hope by hosting tea parties many people will become involved in this movement to reclaim our country from those that seek to destroy the freedom we enjoy, bought and paid for by the blood of our men and women in uniform," he said.
Content is ©2009 by The Albany Herald, Albany, Ga