A lively Tea Party tax revolt, led by Paul Revere on horseback and a fife and drum corps, all in revolutionary garb, took place in downtown Santa Barbara the afternoon of April 4.


Participants were protesting increased state and federal taxes and what most in the crowd see as unnecessary increases in government spending.

Several hundred energized citizens took part in the event, which started on the courthouse lawn in Santa Barbara.

Signs with bold slogans were scattered throughout the crowd, while others let tea bags, hanging from their hats, umbrellas, signs and clothing, do their talking.

“This Country Began as a Tax Revolt,” “Bail Out the People Not the Banks,” “Taxation Without Deliberation,” “Tea’d Off in Santa Barbara,” and “Give Me Liberty … Not Debt,” were among messages on signs, both homemade and printed.

Sign-carriers were doing their best to make clear their displeasure with current government attempts to solve major budget shortfalls.

Not everyone in the crowd was angry about current trends in national government. Other demonstrators carried signs that said, “Public Investment is Key to Recovery,” “Social Justice” and “Green Jobs.”

The songs “Livin’ in America” and “Born in the USA” blasted from speakers before the group was led in singing “God Bless America” and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the leaving the courthouse.

Publicized as the city’s “Big, Cool Tea Party,” the protest drew people from other parts of the state as well as locals, all concerned with the management of the U. S. economy, increased taxes and spending at state and federal levels, and bailouts of private companies.

Propositions on the state’s May ballot and the expanding federal deficit appeared to be the main targets of derision by participants.

Proposition 1A, a constitutional amendment that would restructure California’s budget process, facilitate tax increases now and in the future, and give the governor more control over budget allocations, was a major issue among protesters.

The event was sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Tea Party, which is not part of the national Tea Party movement, according to its Web site, but the organization does post its events on the “Freedom Works” site, sponsored by the national group.

The parade of protestors made its way from the courthouse lawn, chanting “revolt, repeal, recall,” as they marched up State Street to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the 1400 block.

Conservative radio host Tammy Bruce was at the microphone when the group reached its destination.

“Look around and see that you are not alone,” said the controversial personality. “And we will not stop ’til we take this nation back!”

She said the current president and Congress was trying to return to Big Government, which she said had not been present in the country for years.

Lompoc’s mayor Dick DeWees warned the crowd that a new form of socialism would result from the government bailing out mortgage holders and private businesses, and getting into the business of the housing, medical and banking industries.

Screenwriter and author Andrew Klavan also spoke, saying that the era of Big Government was like a zombie — once dead but now coming to life again.

Republican state Sens. Tony Strickland and George Runner were on hand to support opposition to Proposition 1-A, and Joe Armendariz of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association also attended.