The swirling force of Texas politics

Lone Star Tea Party is Piping Hot

By Omar Villafranca
|  Friday, Apr 16, 2010  |  Updated 8:45 AM CDT
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Tax Day Tea Party

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Tax Day Tea Party

Thousands of North Texans protest big government at a Tea Party rally in Grand Prairie.
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Based on the crowd at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie, the Tea Party movement in North Texas is still hot.

Grand Prairie police said the crowd swelled to roughly 8,000, many of them holding signs and waving flags.

Organizers said the groups popularity hasn't cooled off in the year since the last Tax Day event.

"Since Obamacare passed, people are really looking for a place to go," said Katrina Pierson, with the Dallas Tea Party.

Vendors sold "Don't Tread on Me" flags and shirts, along with buttons and bumper stickers. Anti-Washington slogans were the most popular sellers, as were items criticizing President Barack Obama.

The lineup of speakers included conservative talk radio hosts, but elected officials were not allowed to speak to the crowd. Pierson said the group didn't want it to look like it was endorsing any one candidate.

 Many of the people in attendance at the Lone Star Tea Party were there for the first time.

"Whether it's a protest, a rally, whatever you might call this, I've never done anything like this before," said Doyle Arbuthnot of Plano.

Fort Worth resident Karen Allen said she did go to last years event, but her enthusiasm has not died down in the past year.

"I felt like the Congress wasn't really listening, and when they started making comments like, 'We don't really care
what the people say, we're going to do what we're going to do,' then that really spurred me on to get more active,"  Allen said.

Extra security was on hand, keeping an eye out for Tea Party crashers. Several Web sites have sprung up, urging people to show up to Tea Party events with racist or offensive signs to paint Tea Party members in a bad light.

"Everyone is paying attention and everyone here knows that people are out to give the Tea Party a bad name. Everyone's aware, cameras are everywhere," Pierson said.

Grand Prairie police reported one incident with a man trying to start trouble, but he was not allowed in the venue and eventually left.

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