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Glendale protester on tax hikes: 'It really aggravated me'

April 15, 2009 |  2:02 pm

About 250 people gathered in front of City Hall in Glendale today, chanting "We've had enough!" and "No more taxes!" as part of the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party demonstrations against increases in government spending.

"Our message is to repeal the stimulus, lower taxes, have less taxes [and] smaller government," the rally's organizer, Debi Devens, told the crowd.

"Are you ready to take back our nation?" she asked, to resounding applause and cheers of "Yes!"

Devens, who describes herself as a 50-year-old "average American housewife" from La Crescenta, said she began organizing for the rally about three weeks ago after she received an e-mail about the nationwide protests and requests for volunteers.

She said she was spurred to action because she disagreed with some of President Obama's policies toward veterans. She applied for a city permit, e-mailed all of her friends and sent news releases to media outlets across the Southland.

Devens said she also made sure the event was posted on websites run by TV news personalities Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

"What's important is that we get the word out that this is a grassroots movement," Devens said. "This is a movement to stop the spending."

The rally began with demonstrators singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Protesters, who were mostly older and white, carried American flags and signs that read "ATTN: Washington. You have run out of our money," "Taxed Enough Already" and "America, No Left Turn."

Jim Gates, 57, of Sunland carried a sign made out of an old piece of board from his tool shed that read: "Don't Feed The Taxman, He'll Never Go Away." A bag of decaffeinated green tea was attached.

He said he was particularly angry that California had raised the state sales tax.

"It really aggravated me. I think it's counterproductive," he said.

He said he learned about the nationwide protests by listening to late-night talk radio but decided to take part because he felt pundit Keith Olbermann was being "contemptuous of the people that don't agree with" him and the type of people that would take part in today's rallies.

He said he thought to himself: "I'm not going to sit it out. Keith got me here -- thanks, Keith."

Devens asked demonstrators who had brought tea bags to drop them off in a large box that she planned to send to the White House. She also told the crowd to connect with one another and to send a text message to a group that would add them to a listserv about future events.

John Watson, 46, said he attended the rally primarily because he was upset with Gov. Arnold  Schwarzenegger's recent suggestion that he might have to raise taxes. Watson said he believed illegal immigrants were "getting more benefits than American citizens."

"Taxation without representation. The Boston Tea Party is basically where we're at again," said Watson, an electrical contractor from Glendora.

 -- Ari B. Bloomekatz