Hundreds attend Warner Robins "tea party"

WARNER ROBINS — While smaller in size than the previous “tea party” in April, a passionate, sizable crowd stood in front of City Hall protesting increased taxation.

In April, the event was supposed to be reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party when American patriots dumped chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxation by the British crown. Tuesday’s event was a continuation of that protest.

“We are declaring our independence from big government and high taxes,” radio show host Jeff Scott told the crowd that gathered while he broadcast his show.

While crowd estimates in April were 500, Tuesday’s crowd was expected to reach about 300, said state Sen. Cecil Staton, who owns radio station WNNG-AM, which broadcasts “The Jeff Scott Show.” He said it was likely the heat that kept a lot of people inside.

However, Staton maintained that Tuesday was the perfect timing for the event because of its proximity to Independence Day, which is Saturday. And as evidenced by the supporters who showed up, Staton said the momentum is not going away.

“I think it’s a great time to do it as people think about the meaning of the holiday,” Staton said.

Tuesday, people held up signs and wore buttons with phrases such as “Freedom isn’t free” and “Give me liberty, don’t give me debt.”

Warner Robins resident Robert Williams, 56, sat by the fountain in front of City Hall as his 8-year-old son, Devlin, carried a sign reading “I go to private school. I must be the right-wing extremist DHS has warned you about.”

DHS stands for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Williams said he had attended April’s tea party and still had the same concerns about increased taxes and attacks on the school voucher program.

“We recycled the sign from the first time because the issues remain the same,” Williams said. “I’m afraid of what’s coming down the pipeline.”

Staton noted that Tuesday’s event was part of another national grassroots effort. He said other cities planned their events for Saturday. In Middle Georgia, Eastman will hold its tea party at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the ChasMar parking lot.

Virginia Galloway, state director for Americans for Prosperity, spoke on Scott’s radio show and said she was happy to see the turnout in Warner Robins. However, she said the movement needs to go beyond the parties.

“It’s very important that they do the next thing, which is affecting policy,” Galloway said.

To contact writer Natasha Smith, call 923-3109, extension 236.