About two dozen Tea Party protesters rallied outside the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in downtown Boston today demanding further investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of some Tea Party and conservative groups for scrutiny when applying for non-profit status.
The protest was one of many coordinated Tea Party demonstrations at federal buildings across the country that occurred as IRS officials appeared before a congressional hearing into the budding scandal.
The protest was organized by the state chapter of the Tea Party Patriots, with word spreading primarily through Facebook posts, e-mail chains, and word of mouth.
“Wouldn’t you be out here, too, if a group you were a member of was being investigated by the IRS?” asked Sarah Blood of Brookline, who described herself as a Tea Party member.
Blood and her husband carried signs reading “Intrude, harRass, represS” and decried the federal agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups as a frightening, Nixonian overreach.
“That something like this is going on in America today? — it’s scary. This is just frightening,” Blood said.
The protesters remained relatively quiet during the hourlong demonstration, neither chanting nor shouting. They carried American and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags – a staple of the Tea Party movement.
Their signs called for an audit of the IRS, slammed the Obama administration for allegedly turning a blind eye, and asserted that the media was complicit in a coverup of the scandal.
“I’m out here because I’m outraged by the government intrusion,” said Roger Blood, who stressed that, unlike his wife, he is not a member of the Tea Party and considers himself a libertarian. “No matter your political persuasion, it’s really scary that any group would be targeted by a federal agency for what they think or what they believe.”
Blood and other protesters said the IRS scandal was particularly important because it targeted the First Amendment rights of a minority political party, thereby threatening the core of the nation’s Constitutional rights.
“If they’re willing to do this to one group, they’ll be willing to do this to any group,” said Carlos Hernandez, state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. “We can’t sit quietly and allow our rights to be stripped from us.”Wesley Lowery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.