Crowds line Hartz Avenue in Tax Day Protest | April 24, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - April 24, 2009

Crowds line Hartz Avenue in Tax Day Protest

Danville Tea Party one of hundreds around the U.S.

by Geoff Gillette

April 15 is normally a pretty busy day at the post office, but last Wednesday it also brought crowds to downtown Danville as more than 250 area residents converged on the intersection of Hartz Avenue and Diablo Road to take part in the nationwide Tea Party event.

A grassroots movement organized almost entirely online, the Tea (which stands for Taxed Enough Already) Parties were held to protest government spending and issues like the massive bailouts of AIG and Wall Street.

The Danville Tea Party was broken up into two events, one from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and the second from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with residents from throughout Contra Costa County taking part.

Former Congressman Bill Baker manned a corner during the afternoon, holding a sign reading, "Change is all you'll have left." He said he felt it was necessary for residents to send a message to their representatives in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. "I think it's time the people stood up to congress," he said.

Baker said the Fed has been working to stabilize the situation, but Congress just keeps on spending, which makes the situation worse. He also said he felt the stimulus package was not going to solve the problem. "Only 12 percent goes to infrastructure and the rest is going to more government. And that doesn't put people back to work."

Baker's wife Joanne also attended the gathering. "The budget's way out of control," she stated, "and they have no intention to bring it under control."

Nick Contompasis is the organizer of the Danville Tea Party and he said it really required very little in the way of "organizing."

"It took very little effort on my part," he said. "There's a real need here. People want to let the government know that they've had enough."

Contompasis is no stranger to organized protest. In the 1960s, he was a part of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a movement protesting the Vietnam War that grew to 100,000 strong at its peak.

"I've basically switched sides," he said, adding, "I'm using the tools I learned in the streets of Washington, D.C., here on the quiet streets of Danville."

While the SDS protests were at-times raucous affairs, the event in Danville was festive, with little or no conflict.

"I was a little worried," said Contompasis. "I was concerned that there might be an element of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) out here today but so far it's been nice and peaceful."

Wednesday's protest is not the last to be seen of the Tea Party activists. Contompasis said they may be putting on another demonstration in the next few weeks, and they are already working on an application for the group to walk in this year's 4th of July Parade in Danville.