Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Occupy Wall Street" meets Tea Party in Frankfort

"Occupy Wall Street" protesters plan to attend a Kentucky Tea Party rally in Frankfort on Tuesday. The rally features Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mitch McConnell talking about defeating ObamaCare.

"I have regarded this as an Occupy event from the beginning," said liberal activist Ryan Hidalgo of Owensboro.

Occupiers have actively been recruiting for weeks, starting with blogger Jim Pence. Pence has sought to inspire left-wing participation in the event by calming fears about potential violence.

"This is a free country, but when we become afraid to exercise our freedom then we are no longer free," Pence said. "Believe me, there will be plenty of law enforcement at the event, including Capitol police. I know because I've been to events like this and believe me, violence won't be tolerated."

Pence attended a 2009 Louisville Tea Party event with some 3000 attendees. He said:

"I went to the event alone, a 70 year old progressive among 3000 conservatives, with only my camera and camcorder and didn't have one problem with anyone. I didn't hide the fact I was a progressive -- nor did I flaunt it -- and no one seemed to care. The event was secured by plenty of police protection and would have been the perfect place for Louisville progressives to counter the Tea Party Express in front of the entire nation. But, for whatever reason, Louisville progressives decided to let the Tea Party Express have their way in Louisville Kentucky."

Despite Pence's peaceful plea, overheated rhetoric has also been a key part of the effort to draw OWS activism in opposition to the tea party.

Clarksville, Indiana CPA Linda Jaggers Mitchell claims to have attended prior tea party events and says she approves of liberals going even as she lobs a bomb of her own.

"Personally, I don't think of it as crashing but I know how dangerous the tea party can be," she said. "These people are crazy. I really don't want to be around them."

"These people make my blood boil," Lela Morgan said.

Again, others were much more reasonable, suggesting a peaceful, if spirited, event.

"We are merely going there to protest the legislators and their policy," said April Browning of Lexington. "In this case it happens to be Republican policy. I do not reserve my voice to speak out against one party and not the other. I am neither Democrat nor Republican but I am an activist, an activist who believes in the power of the people, the power of social movements and the power of using your voice."

Still others among the liberal protesters suggested bringing signs to show solidarity with tea party principles, in opposition to establishment politicians of both parties.

Karen Conley posted on Facebook a list of suggested slogans opposing bank bailouts, earmarks, civil rights abuses and out of control government budgets.

"This would make it less likely the tea partiers would be against our message," she said.