Project 21 New Visions

Emery McClendon

Tea Party and Occupy Protests Far From Similar


by Emery McClendon (bio)

 

Occupy Wall Street protesters are embraced by our President, lauded by members of Congress and by others as a movement that is good for America — as opposed to, in their opinion, the Tea Party movement.

The Occupy effort, months old now, is still receiving unprecedented positive media coverage. Unlike the Tea Party, however, this new group of activists is involved in violence, lawbreaking and many other despicable actions.

But, if you listen to the media, the Tea Party and Occupy protesters are voicing similar positions and act alike. In reality, they are worlds apart.

For example, the Tea Party movement formed spontaneously in 2009 as a reaction by Americans to the fiscally irresponsible actions of the federal government, misguided "stimulus" spending, bailouts and public takeovers of private industry.

Within the first few weeks of the movement, groups such as Tea Party Patriots formed to support — but not lead — the millions of Americans seeking to improve our great nation through renewed support for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free-market economic policies.

The Tea Party movement is 100-percent grassroots, and it still has no national leaders.

To the contrary, the Occupy Wall Street effort is benefitting as a direct result of union organization and community organization, and is organized and encouraged by leftist activists. The movement is also appears to be very well-funded.

But the biggest contrast to date is the level of violence, arrests and lawbreaking that shadows the Occupy protesters.

I have first-hand experience of this facet of the Occupy effort.

Recently, I attended a Tea Party event in Washington, D.C. During the event, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, we were informed that the building was surrounded by about 500 Occupy D.C. protesters attempting to break into the building and acting aggressively. As a result of their activity, the convention center was placed on lockdown.

I left the ballroom to get a good look at what was going on outside. Occupy protesters were banging on the windows and placing small children in front of the doors to keep those attending the dinner from leaving. The convention center was surrounded by Occupiers, security guards and police. The protesters were chanting, beating on the building and blocking the streets.

Protesters blocked all the exits, and the people inside were finding it difficult to leave the building. Those who did manage to exit were physically assaulted.

As I walked around and looked out of the building, I noticed several people being attacked by the protesters and being hit with objects and with fists. At one exit, protesters knocked down an elderly woman and surrounded her. At another exit, they attacked people as they exited by allowing them to get halfway or more across the street, then grabbed the last people in the group and began hitting them.

This is the kind of action that mobs use to get their point across. It is not the method of peaceful groups such as the Tea Party movement. This contrast between the groups is very obvious.

Tea Party groups never leave a mess at a rally, much less attack people or destroy property.

Also, the message of the Tea Party movement is very clear: It wants to save and restore our republic, and make sure America has a firm and prosperous future for all. It does not want to tear down our country and bring on a socialist state by demanding that everyone receive virtually everything from the government.

To compare these two movements, one must investigate the differences and ask which one is working for the good of society.

One will come away with the correct answer without a shadow of a doubt.

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Emery McClendon, a member of the Project 21 leadership network, is a tea party organizer in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and the winner of Americans for Prosperity's 2010 "Activist of the Year" award.  A version of this commentary originally appeared in the Ft. Wayne News Sentinel. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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