A visit of the “Tea Party Express” to cities in the Midwest —
a region of the country that has been most devastated by the economic crisis of
capitalism — did not go unchallenged. Rather, activists and community
members confronted them at several stops to denounce the right-wing attempt to
divide working and oppressed people and to show that the racist, sexist,
anti-lesbian-gay-bi-trans, anti-immigrant, corporate-funded Tea Party does not
speak for working people.
photo: Ellie Dorritie
The Tea Party is attempting to appeal to the popular discontent in the face of
the economic crisis and attacks on working people in the form of budget cuts
and layoffs. However, they want to fuel that discontent into a reactionary
program that scapegoats immigrants, targets people of color and lesbian, gay,
bi and trans people, and stands against women’s rights.
The group presents itself as a grassroots organization, but in actuality
it’s funded by corporate, ultra-right organizations such as FreedomWorks
and Americans for Prosperity. These bigots have been heavily assisted by the
corporate media in relaying their message to the public.
However, activists across the country are beginning to organize to confront the
Tea Party and send a real message of unity and working-class solidarity.
photo: Cheryl LaBash
Some 50 counter-protesters staged a demonstration at an April 11 Tea Party
Express rally in Clinton Township, Mich., a suburban area
north of Detroit. Local progressives and anti-racists joined activists called
out by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice; the
Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs;
and Workers World Party.
“Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Tea Party bigots go away!” and
“Health care is a right — fight, fight, fight!” were among
the chants greeting those going to the neo-fascist rally. The chant
“Against ‘big government’? Abolish the Pentagon!”
highlighted the hypocrisy of the racists.
photo: Cheryl LaBash
The anti-Tea Party demonstration was covered by local media, which interviewed
and videoed many of the participants. At a closing rally Chloe Secor, a Clinton
Township high school student, denounced the racism and hate embodied by the Tea
Party movement, saying it was not the legacy she wanted for her hometown.
That same day, a contingent rallied against the Tea Party Express stop in
Berea, Ohio, near the Cleveland airport.
Protesters carried placards stating “Free enterprise killed 29
miners,” “Health care is a right” and “Workers of the
world, united for health care and jobs for all.” The demonstration
received countless honks of solidarity and the support of passersby, including
several young people who said they knew the Tea Party movement was corporately
photo: Susan Schnur
Most of those participating in the Tea Party Express looked to be high-income
employees, driving Hummers and pricy sport utility vehicles. One Tea Party
participant screamed an anti-gay slur at the protesters, making clear the
group’s homophobic sentiments.
On April 12 the Tea Party Express was confronted in Buffalo,
N.Y. The Buffalo International Action Center, part of the Bail Out the
People Movement, held a loud, visible, persistent and militant
counter-demonstration. As they stood at the entrance to the rightwing
extremists’ rally at Buffalo’s downtown harbor, the IAC and friends
were an unmovable opposition, insistently chanting the whole time.
Activists in Boston are planning to challenge the Tea Party
when it arrives there on April 14. A statement promoting the protest reads:
“Sarah Palin and the so-called ‘Tea Party Express’ have
announced that they will hold a rally at the Boston Common Bandstand starting
at 10:00 am. This is the same group of ultra-rightwing, neo-fascist racists
that have tried to exploit the current economic crisis by using the vilest
racist tactics to attack Obama, unions, immigration, health care and the
“While the demagogues, including Fox News and many others, that are in
control of this group may try and hide behind populist slogans, it should be
clear to all that their true goal is to further the political and economic
program of Wall Street, big oil, the wealthy and the corporations, and they
will stop at nothing in order to do so. ...
“We cannot stand by and allow Sarah Palin and the Tea Party to gather and
try to use racism to divide us without a response. History has shown that only
through organizing and mobilizing a strong, anti-racist, pro-working-class
counterattack against both the economic crisis and racist division will we be
able to successfully defeat these rightwing, neo-fascist organizations and
their supporters once and for all.
Ellie Dorritie, Kris Hamel and Caleb Maupin contributed to this