Tea Party sees red over flag restrictions

Tea Party Demonstrators outside of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, March 20, 2010.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

April 15, 2010 4:12:22 AM PDT
As preparations are underway for a massive Tea Party protest at the State Capitol Thursday, activists are not happy with new rules they'll be under.

Organizers expect about 6,000 people at the event that coincides with the last day for Americans to file their tax returns. A national rally is planned in Washington, D.C. and in other locations across the country.

But in Raleigh, new protest rules say people can't carry anything attached to metal, wood, or plastic poles longer than a foot. That includes the American flag. That's not sitting well with a group that plans to bring lots of flags.

Organizer Randy Dye, a veteran with two sons in the military, says he plans to bring his flag nonetheless.

"I'll be darned if I can't carry my flag on a pole on the State Capitol grounds. That's just wrong," he said. "I think Governor Perdue does not want this to happen and they're picking on us."

But Perdue told ABC11 she knew nothing about it.

"I can't explain where the rule came from. I saw it in the paper just like you," she said.

In fact, Capitol Police Chief Scott Hunter says he came up with the idea a few months ago after noticing how big rallies at the capitol had been getting.

"Groups are tending to get larger and larger here in the government complex and so it's a safety measure," he explained.

"If there was a history of violence I understand that," said Dye. But every Tea Party I have been to in this nation has never had any kind of violence. In fact, they've been respectable."

There has been some ugliness in recent protests around the country. Tea Party activists were accused of hurling racial epithets and even spitting on congressmen after the vote on health care reform in Washington.

But Laura Long with Triangle Conservatives Unite also said every Tea Party she's been to has been respectful and issue driven.

"The economy and what's going on in our government and corruption, those are the things we care about," she said.

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