April 15, 2009 is said to have been the day that had the largest number of tea party demonstrations reportedly in more than 750 cities. Estimates of protesters and locations varied. The Christian Science Monitor reported on the difficulties of calculating a cumulative turnout and said some estimates state that over half a million Americans participated in the protests, noting, “experts say the counting itself often becomes politicized as authorities, organizers, and attendees often come up with dramatically different counts.”Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, estimated that at least 268,000 attended in over 200 cities.Statistician Nate Silver, manager of FiveThirtyEight.com, has said that a cumulative crowd size estimate from credible sources was of 311,460 attendees in 346 cities, which accounted for all capitols and major cities little noticeable or no reliable media coverage in other protests could have contributed to a lower number of attendees and locations. The largest event, in Atlanta, Georgia, drew between an estimated 7,000 to 15,000 protestors.Some of the gatherings drew only dozens.
On April 15, 2009, a Tea Party protest outside the White House was moved after a box of tea bags was hurled over the White House fence. Police sealed off the area and evacuated some people. The Secret Service brought out a bomb-detecting robot, which determined the package was not a threat. Approximately one thousand people had demonstrated, several waved placards saying “Stop Big Government” and “Taxation is Piracy”.
On September 12, 2009, Tea Party protests were held in various cities around the nation. In Washington, D.C., Tea Party protests gathered to march from Freedom Plaza to the United States Capitol. Estimates of the number of attendees varied, from “tens of thousands”to “in excess of 75,000”.A rally organizer asserted that one local ABC News station had reported attendance of over one million, but he retracted the statement after ABC News denied making any such report.
Using the counts of those in attendance, the march may have been the largest conservative protest ever held in Washington, D.C., as well as the largest demonstration against President Obama’s administration to date.
On February 4, 2010, the first Tea Party national convention was held in Nashville, attended by 600 people. The convention received broad media coverage as former GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin was the featured speaker. Some tea partiers condemned the event, questioning the main sponsor, Tea Party Nation, a for-profit group, as well as the several hundred dollar ticket price. The former Alaska governor was criticized for receiving as much as $100,000 to address the convention.
The New York Times reported on August 8, 2009, that organizations opposed to the President Obama’s health care legislation were urging opponents to be disruptive. It noted that the Tea Party Patriots web site circulated a memo instructing them to “Pack the hall. Yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early. Get him off his prepared script and agenda. Stand up and shout and sit right back down.” The memo continued, “The Rep representative should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.
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