Columbus resident Garry Duke, left, displays a sign during a Taxed Enough Already rally Wednesday afternoon at the Lowndes County Courthouse. More than 400 protesters attended the rally. Photo by: Kelly Tippett
April 16, 2009
As millions across the country rushed Wednesday afternoon to file their taxes before the deadline, hundreds of area residents filed around the front steps of the Lowndes County courthouse in an attempt to "make their voices heard."
More than 400 people, many carrying signs displaying phrases like "Attn: Washington, you have run out of our money" and "Change is all you will have in your pockets," crowded around the courthouse''s front entrance in an attempt to take a stand against what they believed were government wrongdoings.
"We meet here today not as Republican, Democrat or independent. We''re not rich or poor, and we''re definitely not socialists," said local attorney Randolph Lipscomb, drawing applause from the crowd. "We are Democratic capitalists.
"Capitalism is not an orderly process. It''s messy, and it''s the rough and tumble of the market that keeps it going," Lipscomb added, as he criticized the federal government bailing out large, failing companies. "But it''s a self-purging system. Economic upheaval is something we can live through if the government does not perpetuate the problem."
Wednesday''s event was part of a nationwide protest organized by the Taxed Enough Already party. Millions of Americans Wednesday attended TEA rallies in thousands of cities and towns across the nation as they protested the national debt, government spending and the U.S. tax structure.
Though some of the nation''s rallies drew criticism for being organized and funded by conservative groups, Columbus'' rally was organized by local business owner Scott Berry and was entirely funded by donations from protest attendees, Berry said.
Several who attended Columbus'' rally shared strong words about practices being exercised by the U.S. government.
"Big government is what''s wrong with America right now," said Columbus resident Ronnie Herrington. "We are teetering on the brink of tyranny right now, and I don''t think we will be able to get our freedom back again if we lose it.
"I am a small-business owner and have been for 43 years now. I don''t think it''s right that the government is bailing out all of these big companies," Herrington added. "Small businesses employ 80 percent of the American workforce and pay the highest taxes. But if my company fails, do you think I will get a bailout?"
Lowndes County resident Robert Spearman, waving a pair of small American flags, forecast a dim economic future for many U.S. citizens.
"Right now, the taxes are way out of control, and they are destined to get really, really bad for a lot of people if we don''t do something to stop them," said Spearman. "Personally, I just don''t think the government should be using our tax money to bail out some of the country''s large, failing entities."
Criticism of government bailouts and high taxes were among the main topics discussed during the rally, as a few speakers addressed the crowd from a podium placed atop the courthouse steps.
"It''s hard to keep track of the checks that are flying out the door up in Washington," Columbus resident Sid Caradine said as he addressed the crowd. "The government has pledged $12 trillion of taxpayer money to prop up failing institutions in the future. And there''s no end in sight.
"The industries that are taken over turn over control to the federal government. That''s socialism, which is one step before communism," Caradine said, as he added the Internal Revenue Service''s tax code is several times longer than the Bible. "We are not left wing, right wing, rich, poor, old, young, white, black or yellow. We are just gathered here today as Americans that have a concern and are concerned by the path the government has taken to remedy this economic problem."
Although Wednesday''s two-hour rally drew hundreds of people to protest government practices, Lipscomb urged those in attendance to become active in spreading the event''s message throughout the community.
"Excessive government spending is a tremendous problem," Lipscomb said. "Even though we''ve reached the end of our program today, I want everyone here to remember that it doesn''t stop today and it doesn''t stop here."
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