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Protesters at Capitol denounce government policies

August 28, 2009 |  3:01 pm

They came to the Capitol this afternoon to denounce many, if not all, things governmental: water policy and healthcare plans, taxes, climate legislation, anti-gun laws, President Obama and more.

The demonstration was billed as a launching of the Tea Party Express cross-country tour of protests against “out-of-control spending, higher taxes, bailouts and growth in the size and power of government.”

“These folks want to take away your big screen TVs!” yelled one of the first speakers, Mark Meckler, an event organizer with the Tea Party Patriots.

He was referring to a proposal considered by the California Energy Commission earlier this year that would have put energy efficiency requirements on televisions and could have restricted the sales of some larger models.

The organizers said they expected about 10,000 to attend today's event. A large crowd gathered on the west side of the Capitol, with tables set up on the pavement and tents on the grass, although there appeared to be substantially fewer people than predicted.

One protester wore a hat with tea bags hanging from the brim. Some sold buttons saying “Nobama,” and some carried signs denouncing the president, with the “O” in his name written to resemble a sickle, a symbol of communism.
“Obama, we are your worst enemies,” it said. “Intelligent, patriotic Americans.”

“Can we bankrupt the country?” said another sign. “Yes we can,” it finished, mimicking an Obama campaign slogan. Yet another featured a picture of Uncle Sam with the caption, “I want your $.”

Meanwhile, a publicist for supporters of the state and federal legislation to curb greenhouse gases -- one of the targets of the protest -- walked around handing out literature claiming that big oil companies backed the protests against the changes.

Paul Farmer, 65, of Fremont, who belongs to an anti-illegal immigration group called the Golden Gate Minutemen, said he had come to oppose the president’s healthcare plan.

“This is not about healthcare. This is about socialism,” he said.

A retired operating engineer, he said, he had earned healthcare as part of his job. “I’ll be damned if I’ll let someone else get it for free.” 

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento