More than 2,000 protesters gathered on the steps of the State House Wednesday afternoon at a rally against "runaway" government spending and taxes.
The rally, one of hundreds happening simultaneously across the country, was called the "Providence Tax Day TEA Party." The name was both an acronym for "Taxed Enough Already" and an allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
The protesters, some dressed in 18th century garb, carried signs with slogans proclaiming "Obama is our King George!" and "Fatherland security: I want my country back!"
Helen Glover, host of a morning talk show on Providence radio station WHJJ, served as master of ceremonies.
"I always believed in paying my taxes because I didn't aspire one day to be the secretary of treasury, where I could get out of paying my taxes," she said to the crowd. "I always trusted my government. That has changed in the last several years, as I see wasteful spending continuing and there seems to be no end to it."
Glover first introduced Colleen Conley, who was responsible for organizing the Providence rally. "They work for us," Conley told the crowd, referring to the representatives working in the State House behind her. "And that's why we're here — to tell them we are paying attention."
"There's an impeding black cloud of taxation coming to us," said Bill Felkner, another speaker at the event and one of the many who helped plan the rally. Felkner condemned the Obama administration's bailouts of national banks and the growing national debt.
Felkner also presented attendees with a card pledging not to raise taxes, which he called upon Rhode Island representatives to sign. Rep. Joseph Trillo, R-Dist. 24, was the first to step forward and sign the tax pledge card.
"I am so happy to see I finally have some backup for the arguments I've been making in this building in the General Assembly for the last nine years," Trillo said, prompting applause from the crowd. Four other state representatives followed his example and signed the pledge card.
Father Giacomo Capoverdi, a priest and former assistant to two Providence mayors, also addressed the crowd, denouncing excessive taxation.
"We are totally against breaking any of the Ten Commandments," he said. "Especially the eighth commandment: Thou shalt not steal."
He added that Americans should not have to "pay exorbitant taxes and have Obama decide where (their) money will go."
The throng of protesters who attended the rally represented a variety of interest groups, but shared a common goal.
"The reason I'm here is because I have a 5-year-old son, and I'm concerned for his future," a woman who identified herself only as Aurla told The Herald. "Everyone that we have at all levels of government should be ousted. I want to see people with morals running for office."
Marion O'Brien, who is retired, said she had never protested anything before. She told The Herald she wanted to see a flat tax rate and an increased reliance on American-made goods. "I don't want to leave ... a legacy of nothing but bills," she said.