The Vermont Tax Day Tea Party protests are over for now, but the spirit behind the April 15 demonstrations in Montpelier and Rutland continues among organizers and others in Vermont and the nation who are concerned about government spending and programs, and who are attempting to make their voices heard above persistent calls to spend more and tax more.
Co-organizer Michael Grace of Waltham became involved in the Tea Party movement after being contacted by Jessica Bernier, the Barre coordinator of the Vermont chapter of the Campaign for Liberty.
At the urging of a nationally broadcast talk show host, Grace had begun meeting with a group of concerned Vermonters and became part of the 912 Group in Vermont. The 912 Project is a nationwide, grass roots, non-partisan initiative that claims to have enrolled 650,000 members since it's inception last month. It's mission is to organize citizens into loosely structured study and action groups willing to meet with others who share similar opinions and to form their own "special interest" groups to pressure government to take their concerns seriously.
"The name of the group is based on the feeling Americans had the day after the terrorist attacks on 9-11," said Grace. "There was a more unified, national outlook as opposed to being ideologically separated."
When Bernier decided she wanted to "have a tea party" here in Vermont, Grace and the 912ers, as they call themselves, were among the people she contacted to ask if there was interest in helping to organize peaceful protests in Montpelier and Rutland on tax day.
Across the country, hundreds of similar protests were organized in much the same way, some drawing thousands of participants. According to Grace, approximately 500 people participated in Montpelier and between 200 and 300 in arrived in Rutland to peacefully protest not just income taxes, but the direction government, both state and federal, are heading with regard to over-reaching control and profligate spending.