I didn’t know there was a Tea Party protest in Denver yesterday. Not until Nick & Glenn started asking if I was going to make a misspelled sign and start screaming about birth certificates. Even then I didn’t plan on it. There have been things done at them ranging from ridiculous to alarming, and they’re generally reported to be convocations of racist, militia crazies brandishing moronic, misspelled signs and assault weapons. That’s not my scene, and not something I want to be involved with. But after all was just a mall ride away, and I figured I could go in the spirit of amateur photojournalism. And when it comes to a controversial subject there’s no substitute for seeing it yourself.
I got there fashionably late, about 45 minutes after it started. Just in time to catch the bus pulling out to park elsewhere.
I’d guess there were about 400 people there. I’m not great at estimating crowds though. I heard estimates from other non-experts ranging up to 1500.
I actually came across the counterprotestors standing out by Lincoln before I reached the main crowd. There weren’t too many of them – just these four, a pair of girls with a “Yes We Can” sign, and another guy with a “Support Our President” sign. I think these guys stood out by the street for the entire time.
I later came back down, and the guy with the “I [heart] Nancy Pelosi” sign told me Nancy Pelosi was “hot.” I laughed at that – I thought it was a joke! I mean come on, really? Nancy Pelosi hot? But he wasn’t kidding. I said it was a matter of opinion – he got a little snippy and agreed with that.
I didn’t want to record the whole thing live, so instead I made a point of photographing every sign I could. I figured that would capture some of the overall tone. By far the most common “sign” was the flag, followed by variations of the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, and then everything else.
I only spotted three signs with misspellings - the one above ("Ronald Reagen") and the two pictured below ("shreded", and, well, several).
For the most part the signs were concerned with taxes, big government, and “vote them out” themes. I expected more crazies – the Tea Party last April definitely had some. As it turns out, I saw two Birthers, and a one other crazy (shown above). If you want to check for more, I’ve posted at least one copy of every sign I shot on SmugMug.
I thought the tone generally was restrained for a political protest. There was a lot of cheering and such, but I didn’t hear anything violent, racist or otherwise out of line. Considering that protestors are by definition unhappy about something, I really expected more anger.
I spent a while talking to this vendor. He’s out of work, so he printed up some shirts and stickers and has been following the Tea Party Bus Tour around. I asked a few questions trying to compare this demonstration to the others he’s seen. It sounds like they’re generally comparable – about the same size and generally the same tone. Admittedly a limit sample, but still interesting I think. Since I wasted some of his time, I should at plug his website, LoseTheBluesBS.com. I figure about two of my readers might actually be interested.
The main takeaway for me was that by and large these people did not look or act like crazies. There was no frothing at the mouth, screaming, racism, or anything like that. Maybe that sort of thing was going on at some of the other protests, but I didn’t see anything like that here.
Obviously many people disagree with the political points these people are making. But based on my experience I’m going to be more skeptical about the negative reports about the Tea Partiers.
P.S. The was mostly written immediately after the protest - I delayed posting it because SmugMug was having network problems so I could not host the photos until tonight.