Saturday, April 16, 2011

Party Time

Arizona Capitol Police arrest a man on the lawn of the State Capitol during a Tea Party rally this evening. It’s not clear what he did to warrant being arrested. He rode a bike into the rally and was sitting on the bike in front of the crowd listening to the speakers. Officers spoke to him and then left him alone. A crowd of Tea Partiers surrounded him, he said something to one of them and then the police swarmed him, pushed him to the ground, handcuffed him and took him away.  
About 500 Tea Partiers gathered on the Capitol lawn Friday night to mark tax day. They listened to speakers, complained about high taxes, the federal debt and illegal immigration. No one said anything about crumbling infrastructure, failing public education or income disparity. 
This year a small group of counter protesters, no more than 50, tried to shout down the Tea Partiers. They used bullhorns and street theater to make their points and from time to time the two sides would confront each other with verbal exchanges. One woman, a counter protester, claimed to have been pushed to the ground by a Tea Partier. I didn’t see it happen. But at least one Tea Partier was led away (not in handcuffs or in custody) by police for an interview. 
Attendance at this year’s event was down compared to 2009. In 2009 there were 8,000 - 9,000 people at the Capitol. It was packed. This year’s crowd of 500 was tiny in comparison. 
There are more photos from the Tea Party rally in my archive or available from ZUMA Press